Non-traditional sellers may not have intentionally ever applied for a sales job. As their story goes, they “fell” into selling due to the demands of their business development goals.
They are an engineer who started their own company and realized they needed to tell potential customers they existed! A gregarious scientist who was inquisitive about what the marketing and sales folks “did.” A startup that evangelized to early adopters who signed on and gave the company “legs” to run on. An executive assistant who knew more about the company than her boss and now is the president of that company. A small manufacturer who wanted to create a sustainable legacy, and business, for his family.
All of these folks found themselves selling. Perhaps reluctantly at first. Yet selling is what they did. Why?
They had to sell. Selling paid the bills and sustained their nascent businesses. Selling was the cornerstone to learning more about their industry vertical and marketplace. Selling was, and probably still is, one of the scariest things they engage in on a daily basis. They still have self-doubts, no matter how successful they have become.
It took nothing short of a leap of personal faith in themselves as Business People of Worth. And that self-doubt is a good thing. It means that these non-traditional sellers are still learning, engaged in customer development and their own professional development as well.
If asked to describe themselves, non-traditional sellers rarely describe themselves as sales people. They eschew that description. Selling still has that sleazy and cheesy, stereotypic connotation to them. They will describe themselves as a mechanical engineer business owner, a scientist who crossed over to the dark side of selling, an IT hack with a big vision.
Non-traditional sellers range from PhD’s to high school graduates. Non-traditional sellers may be individuals who question the validity of taking on an average of $30,000 post-graduation debt when, in fact, they can educate themselves with online courses and start a business and get down to creating a sustainable enterprise for themselves and their families. Non-traditional sellers are your receptionists, assemblers, house painters, summer interns and family members.
Non-traditional sellers are becoming the norm. They are becoming the marketplace of the future for all of you traditional sales folks in traditional sales forces.
Do you know how to sell to them?
Todays’ globally competitive economy is full of small business and startup ecosystems founded, and sustained, by these non-traditional sellers. For those of you working for large companies with legacy systems and humongous sales forces, what I’m describing sounds like it comes from a different galaxy.
Yet this startup-small business ecosystem, consisting of millions of global entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses will, indeed, create a sustainable economy. This world consists of non-traditional sellers: people who own their own businesses and the folks who work for them. Business development becomes an all-hands-on-the-sales-deck initiative.
How are you, as a professional seller, planning on working with and selling to non-traditional sellers? They exist, in great numbers, just outside the peripheral view of your company. They aren’t even on your company’s radar screen…. Yet.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She is resolved to creating revenue-producing collaboration strategies with and for non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups.