By the eighties, things had progressed a little. Salesmen, now
called "Representatives" and "Sales Executives" had evolved and developed good
projection and presentation skills to explain the features, advantages and
benefits of their products and services.
Clearly the main function of the eighties Sales Executive was to
inform - in fact many were regarded as "walking technical handbooks." Sadly,
Sales Executives' ears did not develop and evolve as well as their tongues.
They did not listen, they simply "waited to speak" whilst taking a breath in
between sentences. If customers "interrupted" they were swiftly dealt with
using a range of questionable, heavy-handed techniques, tricks and gimmicks
inspired by books like "How to develop a killer instinct", "How to get the
customer to say yes" and "55 different ways to overcome objections!"
The planning skill of The Informer was poor. He believed that he
could "play it by ear" and that customers needed to be "told". However,
customers did not share this view; often resisted and, later in the day, badly
mauled Sales Executives would gather at local watering holes to lick their
The eighties created dozens of white-suited management gurus.
Often sponsored by leading politicians, who had recognised the value of being
seen with these new superstars, the gurus filled conference halls and arenas
and "enter-trained" Sales Executives and their managers with their misguided
and aggressive "Close-that-sale!" philosophies.
Their language was often combative. Sales Executives were told
that customer objections were "unjustified" and needed to be "overcome" by
following a number of fool-proof steps. They dismissed the possibility that
objections might actually be genuine customer concerns that needed to be
understood and handled and resolved sensitively.
Customers did not like The Informer's projection approach.
"Selling" became a dirty word conjuring up //images of aggression, manipulation
and deceit. Not surprisingly, customers saw themselves as adversaries and "dug
in" to defend themselves against verbal attacks. The Informer, however, carried
..to an audience of one and a market of none!