A lot of people are buzzing about social selling lately and that got me thinking about Willy Loman.
The tragic hero of Arthur Miller’s classic 1949 play, Death of a Salesman, ultimately fails as a salesperson because he is unwilling to give up his emphasis on longstanding personal relationships and adapt to modern sales methods. In Willy’s heyday, the personal connection was everything in terms of generating sales and attracting leads. But, by the time of his tragic fall, his more adaptable colleagues were eating away at all his market share by using more modern techniques.
The moral of Willy’s story, at least as it applies to today’s salespeople, is not that personal relationships don’t matter. The moral of the story is that you need to adapt to a changing sales environment.
Sales teams still depending on outbound sales methods such as cold calling and direct mail are the Willy Lomans of their day, clinging to old-fashioned sales methods even while more and more research points to the reality that buyer behavior has changed.