Do You Sell or Do You influence?

The Evolution of the Art of Selling/Influencing

Selling has gone through a natural evolution, and is still evolving to this day.  There is a better way.  Sales has become somewhat of an art form, and the sooner more sales-folks realize that there is a better way, the better.    In fact, we no longer sell… rather we shouldn’t.  This is the information age.  We should influence.

Think about the last time you bought a car versus the first time you bought a car.  The first time you went from lot to lot, talking to the sales people, test-driving a dozen cars, and narrowing down your search based mostly on the information your sales-guy gave you.  That’s how we were able to gain knowledge and information at that time.  That’s why cold-calling and foot canvassing worked.

Now think about the last time you bought a car.  What was the first action you took?  I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you googled it.  You probably looked at reviews, blue book value, etc. all on-line.  The research was at your fingertips because that’s where information is today – it’s at all of our fingertips.

So if you want to be in the game, you have to evolve with the game.  Evolve or dissolve.  What do you think anyone today does before they meet you, whether it’s business or personal or other?  They google you, they google your company, they search you out and they will find you.  Or will they?  And what will they find?  Are you a thought leader?  Are you differentiating yourself?  Do you need reputation management?  These are all relevant questions.  What will I find when I google you before our next meeting?  Do you take care of your digital footprint and are you impactful?  Will I want to do business with you?  Or will your digital footprint convince me that I don’t?  How are you influencing my decision?

Here is a rough estimation of the evolution timeline:

  • In the beginning of human history, people bartered.
  • Around 5000 B.C. metal objects were introduced as money…
  • 1700’s – 1800’s The Industrial Revolution changed sales yet again. Sales people were coined with the term “snake oil salesman” as they often made exaggerated claims in an effort to increase profits – or maybe it was just because they couldn’t google things back then!
  • 1886, Pyramid Selling came into play. Identify key decision makers and use them to introduce to other prospects and your ideal client profile.
  • Early 1900’s it became the responsibility of sales people to start earning the customer’s trust.
  • 1916 the 1st World Salesman Congress gathered in Detroit, MI. Enter trust based selling.
  • 1916, there was also the methodology of scientific selling – salesmen used their knowledge to bludgeon buyers and took control of the call early on and directed the sales interaction.
  • 1920’s Mood Selling stepped in – salesmen used emotion to persuade customers to buy and would even bring their children along to emotionally “blackmail prospects”.
  • 1925, Brand Based Selling controlled the sales interaction. Using publicity for a brand to prove success then used the popularity of the brand as evidence of success.
  • 1930, Psychological Selling was used to learn what makes buyers tick and leveraged pseudo psychological jargon to confuse buyers.
  • 1936 Dale Carnegie published the sales person bible – the “must read” for all sales people – ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People”. To this day, this book continues to have a lasting impact in sales.
  • 1940’s, the methodology was a Tell-Sell process – overwhelming clients with information and leading clients to a commitment.
  • 1950’s, the methodology was to ADAPT. There were no firm guidelines and salesmen were taught to follow their instincts in order to control the sale.
  • 1950’s into the 60’s, foot canvassing was born. Salesmen knocked door to door selling features and benefits.  But this was a good thing as this is how we received our information at that time – sales people brought the information right to our doorsteps – whether they were our personal doorsteps or our businesses.  Again – we couldn’t just google back then.  This was also the time of canned presentations and customers were all treated the same, each salesman armed with a large pool of ways to handle objections – there was an answer for everything.
  • 1968, Needs Satisfaction Selling guided salesmen though a 7-step process to uncover the needs and introduce benefits.
  • Strategic Selling: In the 1970’s the customer became much more involved in the sales process. There was a situation which led to a problem, which led to the implication, which led to the need.  Salespeople used their in-depth knowledge of the product or service and the market.  Telemarketing came into play.
  • 1980’s, Solution Selling or Consultative Selling was the answer. The salesman would align a solution with a customer need, then actually prove why it was better that the competitor. Salespeople used in-depth questioning techniques to understand their prospect’s pain and then consult in an effort to open the eyes of the buyer.
  • 1990’s…. aaaahhhh the rise of partnerships. Do you remember ABC?  Always Be Closing.  This was power-based selling, target account selling… the complex sale or strategic selling.
  • 1997, Mobile Commerce services were first delivered, when the first two mobile-phone enabled Coca Cola vending machines were installed in Helsinki.
  • In the early 2000’s there was a shift in power from the sales person to the customer. Total buyer empowerment… the rise of CRM’s.
  • 2011, Challenger Sales exploded on the scene. Salespeople were ready to debate and challenge the prospect, introduce new ideas, and manipulate prospects.

That brings us to today.  Today it is about influencing, not selling.  It’s about helping the buyer make an informed decision.  We are in the age of the informed client/customer.  Information is literally at everyone’s fingertips.  It is the rise of intelligent sales automation that works with any sales process.  We no longer receive information from cold calls or salesmen that come a knocking.  We simply search on our phones, tablets, computers, smart watches, and all things digital that are plugged into the world wide web.

Don’t forget about the cornerstone … relationships.  You have to earn the trust of your network.  Relationships are intertwined throughout all of the stages of influencing. Be genuine and build your business the right way.

How will you influence? We’d love to hear your feedback in our comments section below.  I will be sure to respond in a timely manner!

Best practices can certain help get you started, but when you are ready to implement an actual social selling process, contact Bobbie at All About Leveragefor more information. It’s all about the process!


  • Be the first to give to your new business relationships
  • Always pay it forward
  • Network with purpose.

About Bobbie

Bobbie specializes in helping executives as well as sales & marketing teams maximize client acquisition through the intersection of face-to-face networking combined with social selling techniques. Her customized programs and processes not only help in building the right network of prospects, clients, referral partners, and centers of influence, but also provide techniques to become thought leaders in their industry and stay top of mind with their targets.

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