Sales Is Very Much Alive



Sales is dead? Really, who writes this crap? Apparently that is the amazing insight by none other than Jon Steinberg who brought us viral listicles and gave the world yet another thing to waste time on. That is what goes for “innovation” I suppose.

What was the stunning nugget of gold that he unleashed upon the world? He decided to eliminate the word “sales” from the organization and call everyone “brand partners”. His evidence for supporting this groundbreaking decision? Palantir, the Silicon Valley darling, does not have sales people, but Forward Deployed Engineers. Hate to break it to Jon, but Palantir actually has sales people, you can find plenty of them on LinkedIn.

So of course, I had to respond to this nonsense before too many people got the idea that this was actually good advice. Here is what I wrote:

Jon, I think you are very confused. What your “brand whatevers” are doing is called sales. Now it may be the type of sales that is very complex and involves long term engagement, but do not make any mistake that what these folks are doing is sales. They are generating revenue, they are measured in part by the revenue they are generating, they are finding ways to increase that revenue over time with existing clients or bringing on new revenue generating clients. And make no mistake, your clients definitely view your “partner pushers” as sales people, despite the titles you have bestowed upon your team.

We need to stop coming up with cutesy titles to reinvent what are very simple concepts. There is nothing inherently wrong with the term sales or the field of sales. What is wrong is people writing about sales who have no idea what sales really is about. Maybe it is the fact that you find the field of sales embarrassing because of this perception that “sales people” are mere widget pushers incapable of caring about the long-term needs of customers or creating complex solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The sales people I have had the pleasure to know over the years are consummate professionals that have gone above and beyond to serve the needs of the client. They are incredibly wily and perceptive and tenacious, because that is what it takes to convince a client of the value of one’s solutions, to defeat the competition or the option to do nothing, and to usher a deal to closure. They also are proud to be called sales people and reject nonsense titles. They love what they do, love the thrill of closing deals, love the involvement with working with many diverse clients.

Perhaps Jon you do not really understand or appreciate sales. Let me help you disabuse you of your perceptions about sales and invite you and your “brand folks” to the NYC Enterprise Sales Meetup. There you can learn for yourselves how we are elevating the art and science of sales and taking a modern approach to bringing value to clients.

It is strange to continue to hear otherwise smart people call sales dead or proclaim the death of sales people. It has become some unfortunate Silicon Valley startup mantra. In fact, in a world that has gotten even more complex and noisy, it is the knowledgeable and persistent sales person that makes sure these innovative tech startups even get in the front door with customers.

If you are under the impression that “sales” is something to be embarrassed of, I invite you to join us for the next NYC Enterprise Sales Meetup. See for yourself the driven, smart, entrepreneurial, and passionate people that proudly call sales their calling and their profession. These are the people that make things happen, because without them, business does not happen and new solutions do not get out there into the hands of customers. As I like to say, if sales is dead, then so is innovation.

Reprinted by permission.

Image credit: CC by Tom Hodgkinson

About the author: Mark Birch

Mark is an early stage technology investor and entrepreneur based in NYC. Through Birch Ventures, he works with a portfolio of early stage B2B SaaS technology startups providing both capital and guidance in the areas of marketing, sales, strategic planning and funding.

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