Why Sales Skills Are Needed to Survive in Business
How often do you admit that you’re in sales?
The fact is that no one wants to be sold, therefore, it is not all that popular to be in “sales.”
Popular or not, selling skills are critical to growing a business, increasing profitability, and ultimately thriving! However, it is apparently so shunned as a discipline that it isn’t even taught where we get much of our initial business training – at universities. Some schools offer a class or two in sales, but the real true selling skills are expected to be inherent or discovered on your own. It is no wonder job positions that require sales have incredibly high turnover. It is also no wonder many small businesses fail. If the sales don’t come quick enough failure is inevitable.
Extensive education, practicing of the craft, and research would help improve sales skills.
If you are enrolling into college and would like to get some useful skills for your entry into the work world -a focused education in sales is a no-brainer.
Students can receive a PhD in all sorts of obscure disciplines (like a PhD in Area Studies?), but a skill that every business owner and professional needs to some degree in order to survive and thrive in business is not found anywhere. Why is there no doctorate degree in sales?
Harvard Business Review ran an article sharing some statistics about sales education (“Teaching Sales,” by Suzanne Fogel, David Hoffmeister, Richard Rocco, and Daniel P. Strunk). The article noted that most MBA programs offer no sales-related courses at all, and those that do offer only a single course in sales management. The article also shared that there are progressive schools, like DePaul University, that opened a Center for Sales Leadership (where the article’s authors work) housed in the Business School under the Department of Marketing. The program is thankfully becoming more popular with 700 students enrolling each quarter into the Center’s sales education courses.
But, sales will long be the ugly discipline until business leaders support it and universities recognize the need. Sales is not about convincing others to do things they want, but sharing benefits of products and services with those who have a need and inspiring them to take action.
For those of us long out of college, when was the last time you took a sales course, read a book on sales, or seriously focused on the acquisition of new clients using improved methods? Maybe it’s time we lead the way and request education from our acclaimed educational institutions!
I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me
I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.
Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.
His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. He’d earned his rep by steadily building deep, brand name client relationships, practices and business, not by going off by himself as a solo.
Or as he put it “I have a brand and it haunts me.”
We both had a good belly laugh because he was already rolling in new projects, thrilled with his choice to freelance.
And yet, isn’t that the truth?
Good, bad, indifferent—our brands DO haunt us.
They whisper messages to those in our circle “trust him, he’s the bomb”, “hire her for anything creative as long as your deadline isn’t critical”, “steer clear—he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver”.
And thanks to social media, those messages—good and bad—can accelerate faster than you can imagine. One client, one reader, one buyer can be the pivot point that takes your consulting business to new territory.
So how do you deal with it?
Yep—you go for more of what comes naturally. In Jonas’ case, he stuck with what he’s known for—his work, his relationships, his track record for integrity—and won over any lingering skepticism about his move.
We weather the bumps in the road by staying true to who we are at our core.
So when a potential client says “Sorry, you’re just too expensive for me”, you don’t run out and change your prices. Instead, you listen carefully and realize they aren’t the right fit for your particular brand of expertise and service.
When a social media troll chooses you to lash out at, you ignore them and stay with your true audience—your sweet-spot clients and buyers.
And when your most challenging client tells you it’s time to change your business model to serve them better, you listen closely (there may be some learning here) and—if it doesn’t suit your strengths—you kiss them good-bye.
If your brand isn’t haunting you, is it really much of a brand?
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