I’ve spent a lot of time with salespeople, and people who aren’t salespeople trying to sell. I’ve also worked with managers who kept telling me, “It’s every employee’s job to sell.” Hogwash!
Now I’ll grant that, conceptually, everyone is trying to sell something and every employee should be able to promote the company, product or service they deal with. But I’d argue that not everyone should consider themselves a salesperson and promotion isn’t selling.
1 – Not everyone is good at selling.
Some people are born with the knack, but more often than not it takes years of practice. It takes time to build up a contact base. Some salespeople have contact lists that are more important than they are. Beware of sales reps who don’t know how to leverage a contact list, or have on that is obviously out of date.
2 – Not everyone wants to be a salesperson.
I’ll be the first to say, it’s not something I enjoy doing. It’s not something that drives me. I can do it but I’d rather not. Forcing someone to sell because it’s everyone’s job just makes it onerous and you won’t get good results. You don’t want disinterested, inept, or bad salespeople promoting your job. Just as in any endeavor, having passion in what you’re doing goes a long way.
3 – You’re not paid to sell.
This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. If I’m not a salesperson, and if you want me to be a salesperson, you better pay me any commissions in addition to the salary I get for doing my real job. Also, it’s not in my job description. Yes, I actually said this to a manager once who was having a “pep rally” team meeting. He never brought it up again to the group. The point is, you hire salespeople to do a job, you didn’t hire non-salespeople to do it for them. After all, why isn’t every salesperson asked to be a project manager, or a programmer? There is a reason why roles exist in a company.
4 – Salespeople have the authority
You have to work on deals and make product for money offers on behalf of the company. In large corporations, approval chains are long and usually involve the legal department. Rogue sales reps (employees that are not salespeople) are to be avoided.
5 – Good salespeople need to understand, build, and maintain relationships over time.
They need to know how to set the proper levels of expectation and limit the promises and deals they make. A good salesperson needs to know his or her own limits. Relationships aren’t just about calling someone and asking them for money. It takes time to build a good sales relationship as with any other form of relationship. You also don’t want the typical used car salesperson stereotype working for you.
Introduction, exploration, trust, commitment are the stages in a sales relationship. You meet someone you may not be interested in doing business with (or you may). The two of you talk, and meet and discuss. You’re essentially performing long term interviews of each other and evaluating possible problems, solutions, and what you offer the person across the table from you. You as the sale rep are providing value even at this stage. Once a certain level of trust is established and there is value between the salesperson and the potential client, a commitment might be made.
Now the marriage begins.