When I tell people that I work in the sales department I always have to handle different prejudices. From my perspective sales is one of the most challenging and interesting business areas you can work for. So I decided to introduce 4 common cliches & describe what I think is right or wrong.
Cliché 1: A Sales Manager works today like 20 years ago. It's just about selling!
There is a HUGE difference if you sell products to consumers or companies. In my case I work in sales for Business-to-Business within the IT industry & that means that I need consultative selling to inspire companies. Consultative selling is all about the dialogue between the sales person and the customer. The word dialogue comes from the Greek and means “to learn.” In consultative selling, the sales person learns about customer needs before talking about products (one of the big differences in the B-to-B environment). Product knowledge is still important, but the better way is to transform it into a tailored solution when the solution is delivered and positioned based on the customer’s needs and language. With consultative selling, the customer’s needs comes first. Needs are identified through a combination of research and effective exploratory and drilling-down into customer answers. Consultative selling took product selling and replaced it with the strong but flexible power that is custom fit to the customer’s needs.
Cliché 2: The job is hard & you can’t work in Sales over a long period of time
This Cliché is related to the company you work for. From my experience it’s true that you need to handle different things on one time: You need to be ambitious, you need the drive to exceed targets and you should handle pressure by the company and also the clients. It’s sometimes stressful, but if you are a structured person with a passion to work with and for clients; it’s the right choice. And btw the job opportunities in the sales environment are great, very good paid and it’s never boring. I can’t imagine not to work in sales or a sales related position anymore.
Cliché 3: Commissions are to blame for the negative image of sales and should be abolished
I appreciate the discussion about commissions. It’s like something that belongs to sales like the milk in my daily soy latte. I can’t say that the cliché is completely wrong, even when I support the idea of commissions. Last week I had an inspiring interview with a company who don’t pay commissions to their sales associates. Their vision is that (sales) people, who are passionate about their job & have the right work-life balance are motivated by themselves, without earning more by closing deals. I can’t rate how successful this vision works, but maybe this could effect a big change within sales & I’m curious to learn more about.
Cliché 4: There is no product that a sales expert can’t sell
There are people who have the sales talent in their gene & they are amazing sales associates. But there are also a lot of people who are very successful in sales and started only with their knowledge & passion. The truth is even a sales expert can’t sell everything. It’s very important that you see & believe in the benefits of the products and solutions you sell.
I hope you now have a better understanding, what sales means today & that you need a lot of hard- and soft skills to be successful while working with clients. I can't wait to hear your opinions. What do you think?