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!
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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