The modern salesperson is not what you have been told. They aren’t digital. The modern salesperson isn’t a “social seller” either. Digital is a tool kit and, therefore, it is no indication of what makes one a modern salesperson. The modern salesperson is something much more than someone who knows how to use a set of tools—even the tools that are necessary to the trade.
The mistake here is in believing that the tools are what make the salesperson modern. That’s the mindset of a dabbler, someone who falls in love with some sport or hobby and buys all the professional gear believing that is what is necessary to produce the result. Your new LeBron Nikes are not going to make you a better basketball player.
The modern salesperson is a value creator. They have the business acumen, the subject matter expertise, and the situational knowledge to sit across from their dream client as a peer and as a consultative salesperson. They possess information, insights, and ideas that are valuable to their prospective clients—even if that person never buys from them. They create value that is worth paying for, and in doing so, they differentiate themselves from their competitors. This is what makes one modern.
The modern salesperson does not enter into the sales conversation by sharing information about their company, their products, the feature and benefits thereof, or why you should buy from them. They don’t believe that their product or company is supposed to sell itself. Nor does the modern salesperson start with discovery questions that the prospective client has been asked repeatedly for two or more decades. Instead, they start the conversation with ideas about what is going on currently, what it means, and why and how one might change. They have deep chops and can hold their own in a conversation about what their client should do to produce better results.
Salespeople who have evolved faster than their clients (which is a more accurate assessment than the idea that the opposite is true) understand that they are engaged in the process of helping their clients change, and they know how to help them with a process that allows them to make a good decision. This includes knowing how to get the stakeholders to find consensus among their teams and how to help them execute a new solution, one that will move them to a better future state.
These outcomes, and many more along this line, are what is necessary to making one a modern salesperson. A nice LinkedIn profile is not going to cover any of this ground, even if you put the words “trusted advisor” in your profile (something I will beg you not to do). The digital tools don’t make one a modern salesperson any more than a Rolodex, a business journal, and a phone book would have made one a modern salesperson in 1984. The ability to create value for the client in an age of continuous, accelerating, disruptive change is what makes one a modern salesperson. As has always been true, the tools are ancillary.