Originally posted as a LinkedIn article
I was filming a video recently with my good friend David Martin, who has many years sales experience, & he defined sales in the video as “finding the solution to customer’s problems”, a lovely thought. Almost cuddly don’t you think? So how then did sales get such a bad press? When did it become so embarrassing to say you’re in sales? Because believe me the word “sales” tends to be whispered nowadays as if it’s rude to mention it in good society.
I would define myself as a sales person even though the product I “sell” is fully funded so has no financial cost attached to it but my job description is Business Development Officer. This is in part due to the historic uneasiness the education sector has with the term sales I’m sure but the same job description is seen in many other sectors too.
Is the problem rooted in the old English class system where there was a separate door for salesmen & tradesmen? When “new money” made through sales was looked upon as inferior? Surely in 2014 we’re past that! But then there’s also the car salesmen mentality of the 70’s where getting the sale mattered more than solving the customer’s problem. (Apologies to the lovely car salesmen I know by the way who would never behave in such a fashion. ) Has this image forever tarnished sales I wonder?
Modern sales has become far more “pulling” than “pushing”, interacting and developing a relationship with your customers is now seen as vital and rightly so. This is the part of sales I love, getting to know my customers, watching their businesses develop, talking through new ideas with them. Sometimes I almost feel like I’m a part of my customer’s businesses, getting a sense of joy and pride when something goes right for them and despairing with them when something goes wrong. In this light perhaps the change of phrase from sales to business development is the right one and reflects the change in sales itself.
So how would you define sales? If you’re a salesperson would you prefer not to describe yourself as such? I’d love to hear your comments