Blog – The problem with salespeople is…no one likes them!

It’s no secret salespeople are not the most popular of people, I was in sales for many years before I even admitted to my own family that I was a salesperson. In reality, it comes from our view of sales stereotypes, just like those portrayed in the comedy-drama White Gold (selling double glazing) that cements the view that salespeople want to make the sale at all costs and are driven only by commission, and of course, have no morals. Therefore, at the prospect of being sold to we all glaze over, switch off and work out how we are going to get out of the conversation.

It’s time to face the truth; we are all in sales, that fully dawned on me when I read Dan Pink’s book ‘To sell is human’ – ok I didn’t read it, it was audio! We ‘sell’ all the time; it might not be deliberate, but we do. And yet, salespeople are the coalface of any business, it’s the front line and nobody likes us?!?

Without some sales or business development in some shape or form, we are nowhere. If you can get your head around sales as a profession, you will find it underdeveloped, unloved and a little unruly in places. Too little sales skills development and coaching goes on and this leads to a fair amount of ‘winging it’ on the basis that, if you throw enough at the wall, something will stick!

My own career is testament to this patchy development. Mostly your sales manager will do their level best to train you ‘as they were trained’ or advising on ‘what has worked for them’. This might be effective in some cases: I certainly learned a lot. You may go on the odd course and must pitch in front of your colleagues or, worse still, a camera! But is it enough? Does is give every salesperson the best chance to succeed?

I return to those stereotypes – many organisations hire a certain type of person to sell. I know from my own sales teams that it takes many different types of people to sell, and variety in personality and skillset helps. It’s important to challenge those stereotypes and be open-minded about who can sell. You can leverage the team to sell – collectively. Sales enablement is a company effort to hit those goals and targets. This also means those who make a point of saying they are not ‘in’ sales, they often do this o avoid being associated with said stereotypes. When in fact they all have an impact in the customer/ client experience and therefore are in fact ‘in’ sales. We need them to be…

It’s harder and harder to sell and differentiate in any industry now, so do we need to sell harder? Just hit the phones more. Let us change the conversation – because that is what sales ultimately is: a conversation – we are all in sales and let’s spend a bit of time focusing on giving the customer and client what will bring them value.

Great sales managers and leaders’ coach and support the sales effort, without assuming that all of us are motivated by commission. When things get tough its often sales that carry the weight of the organisation’s recovery on their shoulders. This is going to happen now as we move into revival and, more excitingly, reinvention of our businesses and economies.

Look at your sales and account management teams:

· Are they in sales denial?

· What are the barriers to their goals?

· Have you given them the best tools, training, and support to do their job?

· Are you and your managers coaching and supporting them (rather than lambasting the lazy so and so for not making enough calls)?

We are not all prepared to sell our grandmother just for the sale…it is the time to change our view of #sales.