Disclaimer: Let’s face it, there are tons and more tons of written information out there on Sales, Marketing and anything and everything to do with business. I run the risk of getting my content lost in this massive ocean called the Internet, however I thought my version of this story should come out, hence I am not giving up on you, the beautiful person reading this piece of content.
This article doesn’t talk of any Sales related skills or tools pertaining to attracting leads, lead nurturing, conversion or pipeline mumbo jumbo. This article deals at a very high level as to why people are scared, indifferent or hate Sales, to begin with. I am trying to deal with human behaviour here and happen to bring certain business and Sales related aspects into it.
Let’s see how it all began
Imagine when you were a kid, did your father hold you in your arms and said : “you are going to be an amazing salesperson”. Or your teacher said to you : “I am going to make a great salesman out of you” Or did you friends ever said: “Come let’s follow our dreams, and be Sales guys”
We never choose Sales as a career or a profession for the first 17 to 20 years of our life however the irony is that we end up doing it for the next 30 to 40 years of our working careers.
I started my career as a telemarketing executive in an India based call center, selling to unassuming nice people in the United States. As if I was destined to make a career in Sales but deep down I just hated it! Hated it to the point, that I didn’t want to meet anyone in Sales or hear somebody talking about this as a career.
How I started my career selling, moved to hating it and handling operations, and then accidently came back to selling and making a career out of selling is a topic for another post maybe.
Coming to the point
This post is as a result of my documentation of various entrepreneurs, and businessmen I came across the last 7 years. I thought this would be interesting to put my keystrokes to a document in coming with the 3 broad type of people who are either “scared” or “hate” Sales.
These are some of the common emotions that people of all walks display when the word “sales” come to their mind.
The reason for such a point of view is that either they have been “sold” to by a “sleazy salesman” or they are being asked to evaluate a role or a career in sales, when nothing else is available to them. Any which ways, the common emotion is that of “reluctance” and “avoidance”.
People hate interacting with Salespeople because:
- They are pushy
- They want your decision, like yesterday
- They have their own interest at heart
- They want to forget you after the deal is done
- Talk fast
- Self talking and
Then there is the other section of people who hate choosing Sales as a career or don’t want to sell and would rather hire expensive sales guys or outsource the function altogether. The emotions behind such people not doing Sales themselves are:
- Always accountable
- Performance is black or white, nothing in mid
- Hard work
- Interact with random strangers
- Review meetings with board or bosses
- Without Commission, there is hardly any money
- They don’t like what they are selling
- Face rejections over and over again
- Feel, its a low life and
many more reasons probably.
The 3 kinds of people
I have been lucky to have met, interacted and worked with businesses of so many types, sizes and kinds that I was able to deduce a pattern of response or reaction when it comes to handling the most core aspect of any business i.e. Sales. I am referring here to mainly the key people responsible for bringing in the “money to the house” e.g. founders, head of sales, CEO, CSO, Business Development Heads, Fundraisers etc.
These are the guys who come from a “Non sales” background meaning they have never given anything out, in return for money. Case in point, techies and tech based companies’ founders. They know how to create and ideate products or services that someone might buy from them.
People is this category are almost “delusional” to the point that they completely “forgot” that what they are building today needs to be sold tomorrow. They gave their blood, sweat and tears to build “The Product”, the holy product, the product that’s going to shake Jobs in heaven. They have amazing cognitive, analytical and rational thinking skills however when it comes to Sales:
- They aren’t able to define their marketplace or the buyer persona.
- Can’t align their products with the ideal customer
- Don’t have the interpersonal skills to be liked and listened
- Feel uncomfortable in new surroundings and strangers
- Can’t take failures well
- Can’t hustle
- Push people to take a decision
- Easily intimidated by other guys
These are the lucky guys who are the envy of any hard working marketer. They can put a real hustler to shame. I see these guys like magnets who with their charm can attract people to come to them, talk to them and get business enquiries.
If you ask them, they would probably say, “business is good, never have been better”. For these types of businesses, we will have to audit them real seriously and peel the veneer off to find that “they just can’t close”.
The real fun of the Sales process lie in going through the pitch, negotiate and close the deals. These lucky guys with their “word of mouth” and “connections” are great in lead attraction and some reasons why their conversion is in the poor single digits below 7% are as below:
- They have no differentiator other than price
- They are one more cornflakes box in the supermarket shelf
- Personal and professional branding is low
- They are skilled enough to deliver but can’t commit to it
- When leads dry up, they panic
- Don’t believe in relationship led selling
- Social selling, what’s that?
- Can’t point a finger as to where it’s going wrong
Picture this. The guy has funding from VCs, put his own money and his friends’ as well. The office looks good and the staff look happy. I go to meet their core management team and want to check who does what there — all happen to be supply chain and operations guys.
So who does your sales and marketing? “Oh! We plan to hire some digital marketing and business development guys”.
So they are all sorted, right? Wrong.
Sales guys earn their stripes in battle ground situations, when they face adversity of customer rejections, board room pressures and bosses’ antagonisms. They hardly shine and thrive in soft surrounding and easy circumstances.
In this instance, and in at least 3 other instances I noticed that within 6 months an average of 3 Business Development and Sales managers quit such “lost puppies” founders and promoters. The reason — there wasn’t anyone to demand performance from them. There was no body to guide or measure them.
The personality traits displayed by such puppies when it comes to Sales are:
- We are doing just fine
- Guess the next quarter will look great
- If only I get that deal
- How do you do that?
- They can’t ask the sales guy to close
- My sales team believes
- I think we need more leads
- I think we need more funding
My objective isn’t to criticize or ridicule any of the personality types however I believe for any small business to succeed, the key people at the helm of affairs should know how to sell and be always selling. Even if you have a team, you still sell because it’s your business.
Our education system, friends, family and parents don’t encourage “showing and telling”, persuasion, influencing so to expect a startup founder or a business owner to be in control of the Sales process could be asking a little too much.
However just like any other skill, Sales can be learnt, imitated, measured and perfected, if only we put the rigor, discipline and imagination to it.
If I have to break down Sales or selling, it boils down to only 3 things that we need to do: Promote, Influence and Serve.
Have you met one of the above types or if you are the honest and self aware types, are you one of these types?
The starting point of any change is to hold a mirror against yourself and fix what’s broken.