I constantly find it strange that so many companies and people for that matter look upon sales and selling as rather rude and something not to be mentioned in polite company.
Too often do we hear the description of a person as a “used car salesman” which frankly is demeaning to the person and indeed to used car salesmen.
I recall interviewing a potential sales person and the young lady proved to have a pleasant personality and gave a good overall impression. This lasted until she said “I would be good at sales because I have the gift of the gab”. End of interview.
The fact is that, in this country we don’t look upon sales as a profession and one to be treated as such. We use descriptions like Business development Executive so that we don’t have to use the dread word, sales.
In fact it is the sales effort that drives the top line of the business and even if a large proportion of revenue accrues from existing customers or clients, nevertheless, they were originally contacted by someone selling something to them.
In other countries and especially the USA sales is looked upon as an honourable profession and one to be admired. Would that this attitude prevailed here.
So many companies leave the selling of their products or services to people who are operational in the business and just expect them to bring in business without any thought as to how they are doing it or what methods they are using to achieve success.
Networking is a vital part of the marketing effort that is used by many businesses especially in the professions and rightly so if it makes it easier to develop contact’s and even friendships that can mean gaining business.
The question to ask is how professional are these people who are manifestly good in their professional activities but we just don’t knowhow good they are at developing sales from the contacts?
I know of several professional practices using this technique and a constant moan is that people build contacts but nothing happens after that. The whole point of networking in this context is to achieve sales for the business and if the individual is left to their own devices then we just don’t know how they are progressing (or not) the contact they have made.
There needs to a radical change in approach. While I am not averse to the operational individual generating business we go about it is a very haphazard way. We expect them to have all the operational skills for which the business or practice is known and also to have the ability to sell to potential customers.
Quite frankly this is a vein hope in so many cases that I have encountered.
It is time to change the approach to sales and selling. It is just as important, even more so, than the skills for a particular position in the business and any realistic leader will recognise that.
If you want people to sell your products or services to the outside world then it is essential to give them training in the techniques that are available to them. We seem just to assume that people with functional skills will be able to sell them to the markets and that again is too often a vain hope.
It would be nice to think that businesse3sin the UK will take this in board and start to accept the importance of selling in a business. It is not marketing which is a research function that should generate leads. It is a face-to-face meeting between a potential customer and a person who understands that asking questions is far ore valuable than merely listing all they thighs that we can do.
Train your people (including your sales people) by the way) treat then like professionals and then see how they operate. Sales is the most measurable function in a business and you will quickly see where there needs to be training. Do that and you won’t go far wrong.
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