If I were a science-fiction writer, I’d write two stories about salespeople.
In the first story, there would be no salespeople. The world would be primitive, difficult and dreary because innovation and commerce would advance at a snail’s pace.
In the second story, every salesperson in the world would look like Rodney Dangerfield … because they don’t get no respect.
Two groups that consistently undervalue salespeople are salespeople and buyers:
- A lot of salespeople run away from their profession, using job titles and job descriptions that make you think they do something other than sell.
- A lot of buyers treat salespeople like second-class citizens, if they treat them at all.
This is unfortunate and wrong. In my experience, salespeople who embrace their profession succeed economically and in terms of job satisfaction. Buyers (and organizations) that cultivate relationships with salespeople outperform competitors that isolate and insulate themselves from the sales pitch.
Sales is a noble profession:
- Salespeople introduce organizations to new products, new services, new technologies and new techniques. Much more important still, they help organizations understand how these new things will produce more revenue, more profit, more customers, happier customers and happier employees. Salespeople help companies catch up, get ahead and stay ahead.
- Salespeople need a wide range of skills. They must be expert communicators, in speech and in writing. They must be great listeners. They must be highly organized and detail-oriented, and yet able to see the big picture with utmost clarity. They need to understand people, from grunts in the trenches to C-level executives. They must have the mental fortitude of a battle commander under siege, since they hear “no” 90% of the time.
Do some salespeople take shortcuts? Yes. Are some salespeople incompetent? Yes. But the same could be said of lawyers, landscapers, politicians, policemen, teachers and toolmakers. The difference is, everybody recognizes the need for these other professions. Good organizations recognize the value of their sales teams, but otherwise they are unsung heroes.
Salespeople are extremely valuable to marketers, too. They help us clarify, prioritize and articulate value propositions and product/service benefits. They help us understand the client’s position in the market and what motivates the client’s customers to buy or buy elsewhere. Without input from sales, marketing campaigns go over like lead balloons.
Don’t sell salespeople short. You need them, whoever you are.