Why the Web will never replace face-to-face
"To Ben Harris, selling is a way of life!" That's how an article in The Counselor started some 20 years ago. It was Charley Pahl's appraisal of a Selling Seminar Harris conducted for the Rocky Mountain Region's 6th Annual Sales Seminar. Pahl titled the article Ben Harris: The Fine Art Of Selling, and there was no more fitting description of the man or his message.
I was privileged to attend a recent Selling Seminar, once again sponsored by the RMR and hosted by Harris. It was a testament to the Fine Art of Selling and Harris' message was much the same as that given 20 years ago. What struck me was how timely the lessons were and the reaction from both seasoned promotional product professionals and new sales associates alike.
In this age of paranoia about the coming of the dot-com revolution and the death knell of distributor salespeople as we know them, Harris' message was clear: Salesmanship is a fine art learned and nourished and held by people.
Twenty years ago we heard many of the same scares we hear today, but then it was the coming of the telecommunications era. We heard that soon phone conferences and faxes would make the sales call obsolete. However, we learned thenand again a few weeks agothat selling is, as Harris puts it "the art of influencing people." And the best influence is provided by people with their knowledge, ideas and experience. The most successful people have developed a way to utilize knowledge to show a prospective buyer what results can logically be anticipated, before actually showing an item.
One great advantage we have as salespeople over a Web sales catalog is the interaction and ability to evolve and direct a sale with the prospect. A Web site can only wait for the customer to ask for the sale. We have the ability to show them the way and be creative in program development to ensure that the product will accomplish something beneficial.