I love sales. I have led sales for startups in my portfolio and have been selling or leading sales teams for over fifteen years. I found that I am at my best when I am in front of customers, working with them to understand their needs and helping them to build their vision or to paint an entirely better vision. In fact, I love sales so much that I started a community called the Enterprise Sales Meetup, bringing closers together to network, share tips, and learn from one another.
Most people do not consider just how important the sales profession is to our world. It is the fundamental engine of the global economy. Without sales and sales people, all the great products and services out there would never get into the hands of customers. As much as we like the catchy adage “build it and they will come”, at least in the B2B world, it is the work of sales people that help to move product, expand the market, and grow the customer base.
It is often hard to appreciate however, the importance of sales or the hard work sales people endure to make that sale happen. We are all too aware of the caricatures of the “sleazy” sales person, the unscrupulous used car sales person, and the aggressive sales manager pushing for a deal. We come away from those sales experiences with a distaste for the people and the profession. Like any industry or profession though, there are always bad actors, and sales unfortunately is often the most visible when it comes to poor experiences.
I view the sales profession however as a proud and honorable one. The best sales people I have ever worked with had a relentless passion to help and improve the condition of the customer. They are consummate business professionals, have a deep understanding of products and markets, and work closely with customers to craft and guide solutions. It does not matter whether one is selling a simple appliance or a million-dollar aircraft engine or a multi-year IT project, the sales people that succeed are honest and put the customer’s needs first.
On top of that, a lot of people, more than you would expect, are doing sales as their career. Did you know that 1 out 9 working adults in the US are in sales? And the reality is that many people not in “sales” are actually doing sales on a daily basis, whether they are startup founders, small business owners, lawyers, consultants, freelancers, etc. To summarize Daniel Pink’s book “To Sell Is Human”, everyone sells, everyone is in the business of moving people.
That is why I personally get upset when people want to remove the word “sales” from their organization. Instead of calling sales people “sales”, they call them “partners” or some other convoluted title that obscures the fundamental truth, which is they are SELLING for a living! These are people that think sales is beneath them, all the while relying upon sales people to bring in revenue. So I had to respond in a post called “Sales Is Very Much Alive” to strongly respond to one well-known NYC executive who wrote an article stating in effect that sales has come to an end.
Coming to an end? Well, I look at the Enterprise Sales Meetup that I launched last summer and see the opposite. There is a real thirst for understanding sales and how to be a better sales person. Sales is HOT! In fact, my meetup just crossed 700 members and continues to grow rapidly with strong attendance at every event. If you believe sales is as awesome as I do, then come support the meetup and the sales profession by attending our next event.
I look forward to seeing you there and continuing to do my part in representing and elevating the very best of our chosen profession. Happy selling!
Image credit: Henrik Sandklef