The Great Stagnation = Selling Opportunity

By March 21, 2011E-Rep

It’s tough out there.  Yeah, the economy seems to be recovering a bit, but it’s still pretty ugly.  Seems like a lot of the folks I interact with feel like this is the “new normal” and that the economy will continue to stumble along for years and years.

There are also a growing number of economists who agree.  In their circles, they talk about “The Great Stagnation.”  While innovation is still with us, they say, it’s innovation applied in a radically different sort of way.  They say we’ve already picked the low-hanging fruit in terms of applying technology, and now need to work a lot smarter to squeeze any more productivity and profit out of it.

They’re very insistent about using the word “smarter.”  The phrase “work harder” doesn’t seem to get mentioned at all.  They assume everybody is already doing that, I guess.  In fact, their key premise is that, unlike innovations of the past, the value of today’s innovations can only be realized by people toward the upper end of the cognitive skills and intelligence scales.  (There’s sure as hell nothing politically correct about this particular cadre of economists!)

Think about it…  Virtually anybody can boil the water to kill bacteria; or use chemical fertilizers to increase crop yield; or get on an airplane to get to city X; or use the telephone, or drive a car; or turn on a TV…  In terms of energy, virtually everybody (excepting the populations of developing nations) continuously derives value from electricity all day, every day.  Continuing with the free-of-political-correctness theme, any knucklehead can effectively and productively use and derive substantial value from these older technologies.

The internet is our current big, new innovation.  And boy is it BIG!  However… Walk around your office.  Count the people who have detailed, intimate knowledge about how to use the internet in all its glory to drive business efficiency and effectiveness.  You’ll find that most of the truly legitimate business-people are pretty much techno-dolts, and the geeky internet whizes are business morons.  Compare the % who have mastered both to the % that drove their car to work. Yikes! Case closed!  We really have already picked the low-hanging fruit!

Extremely few of the really good business people (& sales people) are also truly internet/web-site/blog/social-media/podcast/etc. savvy.

So what on earth does all this imply for we sales professionals and managers?  A robust answer to that question doesn’t exist just yet, but two things are abundantly clear:

  1. There are massive implications connected to the question.
  2. While relationships, and “people buy from people they like” will remain extremely important, less than exceptional use of web technologies to sell will be a large and rapidly growing competitive disadvantage.

Conversely, those already aggressively developing and deploying an e-Rep presence will realize a large and rapidly growing competitive advantage.

Certainly a lot more research and cogitating on all this is required.  Ignore the issue at your own peril, however.  Read The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History,Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better, by Tyler Cowen.  Listen to and read this interview.

Think About It…

…and then tell me what you think we should do.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Mark Howe says:

    I believe in this current economic situation it is extremely important to create conversation and interaction with prospects and current customer. Somebody will always be able to do it cheaper or faster. You can use the value of relationships and understanding to connect directly to their business. Collaborating will give you a competitive edge.

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