The Cure for Cancer Won’t Sell Itself – by Kelly Riggs

There is a big debate raging in the business world. The question is, are salespeople really necessary any more? With the advent of the Internet and the overwhelming availability of information to a buyer, why would businesses continue to waste money on salespeople? In this day and age, the rationale goes, buyers are more savvy, better informed, and, with few exceptions, more capable of knowing exactly what they want and why they want it.

Salespeople? Passé.

Because – clearly – there are no differences in products. Or services. Or the value that any particular company provides to a potential buyer.

And – without question – situations and circumstances don’t vary. New applications don’t appear. Innovation doesn’t happen. Things don’t change.

And everyone knows that customer needs don’t vary. The application of a product or service is exactly the same for one customer as it is for every other.

Despite the heavy sarcasm, let’s reconsider: Aren’t intelligent people, armed with all the information available, capable of figuring out the variations in products and services and arriving at a good decision without a salesperson?

Perhaps. But, let me suggest something altogether different. Many times, the wealth of information produces exactly the wrong result. Customers don’t know more, and understand more completely; instead, they get more confused. Not in every case, but I’ve seen it enough to know that it is pretty common.

Despite their best intentions, customers can’t learn and understand an entire industry just by spending a few hours on the Internet. Usually they develop more questions than they started with, and need someone to help them find clarity. Yes, it helps customers to prepare for the interaction with salespeople, and it enables them to sort through a lot of the smoke and mirrors salespeople feel compelled to produce in a sales call. But, it does not necessarily prepare the customer to make the best decision.

Companies vary. Situations differ. Needs change. Variables emerge.

But what about the company that offers something completely unique – the “better mousetrap,” so to speak. Why do you need a salesperson to sell something that literally sells itself?

Not long ago, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Tom Ziglar, the son of legendary sales trainer, Zig Ziglar. It was quite an honor for me to meet Tom, talk with him about his dad, and discuss the profession of selling.

Somewhere around my third cup of coffee, Tom made a statement that I thought was rather profound. We were discussing the value of salespeople, and he offered up this pearl of wisdom: “You know, the cure for cancer won’t sell itself.”

Really? The cure for cancer?

Yep, it’s true. I once had a sales manager tell me it would be hard to sell $10 dollar bills for $9.50. Just too good to be true.

Most people are naturally skeptical, often fearful – of making a mistake, making the wrong choice, wasting their money, or being criticized by others. As Zig always claimed, people don’t make decisions logically; their decisions are informed by a handful of powerful emotions – fear, insecurity, ego, and so forth.

In the vast majority of purchases, someone – usually a salesperson – has to convince the customer that the claims are true. That the research is valid. That the result is worth the price. That the change is worth the hassle. That the company can be trusted.

The availability of information is not a bad thing; it is, indeed, great for buyers! But salespeople have always been, and will continue to be, a necessary part of the buying equation. Unfortunately, customers still have to deal with the inevitable – poorly prepared and insufficiently trained salespeople who talk too much and listen too little.

This, however, is one area that I am quite convinced customers have more than enough information to make a thoughtful and discerning decision.


Kelly Riggs is the founder and president of Vmax Performance Group, a business performance improvement company located in Broken Arrow, OK. Widely recognized as a powerful speaker and dynamic trainer in the fields of leadership, sales development, and strategic planning, Kelly is an author, speaker, and business performance coach for executives and companies throughout the United States.

A national award-winning sales representative and sales manager, Kelly has spent the last sixteen years teaching and training organizational leaders in sales and executive management. He is a Registered Corporate Coach with the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC), and currently serves as a leadership and business development trainer for the Associated General Contractors and the Construction Leadership Council (Oklahoma). He has also appeared before a subcommittee of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives to present “Factors That Impact Employee Engagement and Performance.”

Kelly has written extensively for numerous industry publications, and his first book, “1-on-1 Management™: What Every Great Manager Knows That You Don’t,” was released in 2008. The Kindle version of his second book, recently released, “Quit Whinging and Start Selling: A Step-by-Step Guide to a Hall of Fame Career in Sales” is available at; the paperback version is available here.


Get your free Preview of Selling Fearlessly’s Chapter 1 here.

Check out the 62 reviews for Selling Fearlessly at