I had lunch recently with someone who said something I really liked. We were talking about the noble profession of sales, how difficult it can be and how many businesses struggle or fail because they don't invest the proper time and energy into sales and marketing and/or they don’t respect (or understand) the profession of sales. His comment was about the fact that while he may not have the specific expertise that his clients have, why do ‘they’ so often feel like they know how to sell/do business development!?!?
That’s a great question and something I wrote about in one of my first blogs over 4 years ago: “How hard can it be?”
It is still baffling to me how often really smart people feel that if your organization has a great product or solution, that's essentially all you need and growth will simply occur.
My lunch date also shared a story of a scientist who came up with a new ‘invention’. He was asked how do you expect to grow revenues for this invention and his response was they would write a couple of papers......
In another example, I recently had a conversation with an association that represents engineering professionals in their province. We were discussing leadership training and the conversation turned to sales. To paraphrase her comment: Engineers are smart people that don’t have a clue how to sell. (Not picking on engineers!)
In prepping for this blog I found a LinkedIn article that I liked, especially point 5.
The author quotes Henry Ford "Nothing happens until someone sells something”.
The more I thought about the quote the more I appreciated how profound it is. You can have the greatest product or solution but without a strong sales and marketing plan, and someone to execute it, not much is likely to happen in terms of growth. You can assemble the best team of professionals and create a great solution for customers but…..somewhere along the line there has to be an effort to find a potential customer, an initial conversation with the right person, a relationship and trust built, an in-depth understanding of the challenge/opportunity and then a solution presented that fits that need and helps the customer.
If all of this was easy and anyone could do it.....
There is an undeniable synergy between the art AND science of selling. If sales was easy there wouldn’t be so many books, articles, training systems, etc. out there designed to help people get even better at selling.
Sales takes hard work, constant improvement, training, failure and learning, a genuine desire to help, time and energy, more hard work and more training, more failure and learning.
Also I wouldn’t have gray hair if sales was easy. Although I think it makes me look smarter.
So to be clear, I don’t know how to be a:
· Software Developer
· Exotic Male Dancer (apparently I am ‘too old’)
· IT Expert
· NHL goalie (I wish tho)
· Supply Chain Expert
· Operations Expert
· Network Designer
(I think you get the picture)
And if you are really good at any of these, chances are pretty good you could use some help growing your business.
Further, it’s precisely my lack of expertise in all these professions above that allow me, and other sales/business development experts, to help your organization grow. It is the coming together of experts with different areas of specialty and collaborating that create the ingredients for success and revenue growth.
My 30+ years of experience in sales and my renewed commitment to professional development has reinforced for me that if you try to sell off the side of your desk, or if you don’t invest the appropriate time and energy in your sales team (hiring, training, mentoring) and sales processes, you are very likely to be disappointed in your growth results.
So if you and/or your company are looking to do any of the following: improve revenue, increase margins, shorten sales cycles, earn more business, reduce sales turn over and help more clients, think about having a conversation with a sales consultant. I know a guy.