The American Theory of Selling states that the salesperson closes the sale.

The American doctrine of selling or salesmanship says that “the salesperson” not ‘the customer” closes the sale.

This strategy of selling has caused many problems in the marketplace. It is a flawed strategy as it is unscientific because there is no evidence to support it.

This strategy has proven very costly to shareholders because it is difficult to recruit, to teach, to manage and to retain salespeople using this strategy. In America 80% of salespeople get only 20% of sales using this method. Most salespeople fail and leave the profession. This is very costly to shareholders and gives the sales profession a very poor reputation.

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The American method is also costly to shareholders because it is difficult to gain and retain satisfied and loyal customers using this pre-socialmedia method. Why? Because customers do not like this strategy and they tell their friends by word-of-mouth and so brands and reputations become damaged at great expense to the shareholders.

For example, recently the CEO of a major Australian bank had to apolagise to the Parliament of Australia for how badly its sales culture has been mistreating Australian customers. Mr Ian Narev, CEO of the CBA apologised by saying,

I have said before how sorry I am for the pain that we have caused them. I say so again today. Our goal is to uncover any cases where the customer has not had the right experience and to put it right. We understand we need to be fair and seen to be fair. We have done wrong by some customers in that business (Comminsure) and our other businesses.

At AUD$12million annual compensation for his efforts Mr Narev is the highest paid bank boss in Australia.

American salesmanship is about winners and losers. It’s a zero sum game. Although many Australian businesses have imported American sales training “close-the-sale” methods into their culture there is plenty of evidence to show that Australian customers prefer win/win to win/lose strategies.

In Australia, customers widely reject the ploys and tricks and games that salespeople play using the American method of “closing the sale”.

What it is further off-putting is that books on the American method have a strong evangelistic subtext (convert the sinner/close the sale) written by preachers such as Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale and others and the method is often taught at revival-style rah-rah meetings. Most notorious are those accused of being pyramid-like schemes such as Amway and Herbalife.

Australian customers have made their preferences clear. In dozens of Gallup Polls and many other polls conducted annually (since 1980) customers have rated American-style sales practitioners at the bottom of all the various professions in terms of professional and ethical practices.

I have called this American Theory of Selling “OLDSELL” and have written at length both about the theory and practise of selling in several books (see NewSell (1984), ISBN 0932648568) and WOMBAT SELLING: how to sell by word of mouth (2006) ISBN 1740664280).

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Image of Professions 2017 – (note bottom four lowest ratings)

Image of Professions 2017

Even plays and movies have been made about the OLDSELL culture. Tin Men, Glengarry Glen Ross, Death of a Salesman etc.

How can you tell if a sales culture is dominated by OLDSELL?

One straightforward way you can discern the kind of sales culture that exists in a business is by recording the question habitually asked by the sales manager of the salesperson.

If, whenever a salesperson returns from a customer visit, the sales manager always asks, “Did you get the deal?” or “Did you close the sale?” etc then the focus of the salesperson is cued on the deal rather than on the customer … aka OLDSELL!

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References:

Close That Sale!: The 24 Best Sales Closing Techniques Ever Discovered

The Secrets of Closing the Sale

Close the Deal

Trump: The Art of the Deal

 

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