The death of salesmanship

The fast-disappearing art of good personal salesmanship is becoming a victim of the digital age we live in. In the past a good salesperson asked questions of the buyer and listened to his or her needs to aid in a decision that was best for the buyer.

For many years this worked in helping people with both minor and major purchases, and it proved to be very successful, with satisfied purchases made by the buying public. With internet sales beginning to blossom in 2006 through computers and later smart phones, little conversation takes place, and the buyer is left to educate himself or herself to determine what is likely best for the intended use.

Detailed product knowledge is somewhat lost, along with the emotional questions not being addressed with the digital product presentations, where very little is offered as to the pros and cons of the product.

Internet sales are growing at impressive paces, and we are starting to see the closing of brand-name stores that have been in our neighborhoods for many years due to a decline in onsite sales.

In many cases general information from the internet is gained on a product or service, and you find a local store to visit to touch and feel what is being marketed. Unfortunately many times finding a salesperson to help you is difficult, and finding one with true product knowledge is even more of a challenge.

When I question management as to what has happened to salesmanship, they indicate that training new salespeople no longer is cost-effective due to the high turnover with younger employees. I have made a point to speak to older, experienced salespeople, and they miss the connection with the buyer that used to be in place in helping them make an informed decision.

To reduce marketing expenses, the amount of onsite salespeople has been reduced in some cases by local management. They claim the public is moving too fast and in a hurry to purchase most items and not giving much thought over and above the marked price. This is just not happening with lower-cost items; rapid buying is affecting cars, homes and other expensive long-use items.

For many Americans, online shopping is an indispensable part of life. In fact, some 40 percent of those surveyed said they could not live without it. Seniors are the least digital-dependent among us; Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers were more than twice as likely to say they couldn’t live without online shopping (43 to 20 percent). Some 42 percent of online shoppers have made a purchase they later regretted.

In the past, want ads for salespeople represented a large portion of a newspaper, whereas today they occupy minor space in papers. I believe many retailers believe buyers have made up their minds prior to walking into the store, and only the actual purchase is left to be made. Thus sales training and product knowledge are no longer of major importance.

The facts are that only some 40 percent are prepared to make the purchase and leave with no interaction with a sales person.

We were created to communicate with each other directly, not with such heavy emphasis on the digital world. We will pay a high price for this lack of face-to-face communication to be educated on the true benefits of our intended purchases as they fit our individual needs.

Dean McFarland is a resident of Greenfield. Comments can be send to