I feel compelled to edify the profession of selling. Too often, I see people avoid sales and selling like it went out of fashion in the 90’s. Nobody wants to be labeled as a “Sales Person”, preferring fancier and more ambiguous titles. So let me clarify:
What is a sales person?
A sales person is a paid advocate for a product or service. A sales person facilitates a transaction that results in the successful delivery or fulfillment of value for a determined or negotiated price.
The vast majority of money that’s transferred from one party or company to another involves a sales person at some or all levels of the process. Most sales people operate under different titles, for example, common synonyms for sales people are: agents, brokers, dealers, account executives, account managers, relationship coordinators, distributors, business developers, etc.
In fact, salespeople go to great lengths to disguise their titles and functions because of a prevailing and incorrect view of who sales people are.
Who are sales people?
Sales people are an elite professional group that must be proactive. Most professional jobs require only that a person is reactive; they receive a project, case, or job and then they must complete it according to the guidelines and timelines set forth by their employer.
Sales people must go into the world and make things happen; they must educate, cultivate interest and nurture relationships. Sales people need to be positive, charismatic, knowledgeable, trustworthy, disciplined and tenacious. If you think about the two most valued skills in business, you may think of hustle and grit, a sales person must have both qualities in abundance. If a salesperson is unable to make things happen, they are fired or let go. Most important, a sales person’s income derives from a percentage of the business they create; as such, they are self-sustaining. For an employer, a good sales person is free and produces a measurable ROI for the business.
Why do Sales people disguise their role with a different title?
Sales people disguise their role with a title that does not have the word “sales” in it because of a perception problem. When people think about sales people, they think about an experience when someone tried to sell them something. When we are pressured to buy something, we form a negative association with the experience and we attribute those negative feelings to all sales people. If instead, we associate sales people with all economic activity, we would have a different perception of sales people and the profession of selling.
How should we see sales people?
Sales people are on the front lines of economic activity. The cumulative total of the daily efforts of all sales people are responsible for the success or failure of every business in the world. Every employer relies on the revenue and cash flow generated by their sales people; these funds are used to hire and pay for all their employees, office space, company cars, vacation time, health insurance, etc. Without salespeople proactively converting interest into cash flow, every business in the world would fail.
But what about the businesses that don’t have any salespeople?
If a small enterprise doesn’t have any designated salespeople, look to the owner, the boss or the CEO. The first role of these jobs is to sell their product or service. Even a CEO of big tech company must spend most their time selling their business; if not to customers, then to investors, strategic partners, vendors, etc.
Who can be a sales person?
Anyone. You don’t even need to wait for an employer to hire you. There are plenty of companies that have lucrative referral programs. You can sign up and start delivering customers for a referral fee immediately.
The most successful lawyers, accountants and doctors are also the best sales people for their firm or office. If you want to make partner at a professional firm, you must bring in new business. “Bringing in new business” is another way of saying “sales”. You may be an excellent lawyer, but if you do not generate any new business your contribution will plateau. Doctors can’t survive financially without patients; every business needs an influx of new customers. Sales is the art of customer acquisition.
What do sales people do?
This blog is dedicated to anyone and everyone that performs any sales activity, whether they admit it or not. Here is a list of their primary activities:
- Prospecting: Finding people that may be interested
- Qualifying: Making sure they are interested and capable of buying
- Trust / Rapport: Establishing a relationship based on trust
- Discovery: Asking questions to uncover needs and desires
- Presenting: Showing that your product or service solves their problem / relieves pain
- Objections: answering any outstanding concerns, highlighting benefits
- Closing: Reaching an agreement and receiving a commitment
- Referrals: Asking for additional people that may be interested
For more information, Michael Tracy is a sales consultant and speaker. He specializes in helping business owners create a scalable sales process and hire sales people that pay for themselves.