What the Heck is Wrong with the Sales Profession


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By: Dennis Schiraldi

The Dirty Four (Five) Letter Word of the Business World

Sales can be considered the dirty four (five) letter word in business. No one will wake up on tomorrow morning looking forward to an account executive giving them a call. The reality is that you can major in marketing in college, but no university will offer you a degree in sales. There are sales courses and certificates here’s a list, defined as the top because you have to take 3-courses in sales.

See full list.

Google’s Role in Sales

Let’s be real for a moment. Google’s pretty turned sales upside down. Statistics show that 90% of all buying decisions start with online search. It doesn’t matter if it’s a B2B or B2C situation. Whether it’s a cheeseburger, flat screen tv, software purchase or vacation. Chances are, you performed some due diligence with online search. Furthermore, the majority of people have already investigated the goods, products, and services your business will provide before they ever talk to a sales executive from your organization.

Marketing is Having a Moment

There’s no question that marketing is having a moment right now. In fact, I would tell you that it is having a HUGE moment. It’s why we are able to have a digital marketing conference that sold out in year-1 and will likely double in size. However, a big component if not the most overlooked component in all the marketing conversation is sales. There’s a lot of focus on social media marketing, content driven strategies, engagement, but eventually, someone is going to have to pick up the phone, schedule the demo, discuss value props and ROI for an investment. That’s just a fact.

The World’s Oldest Profession?

While the world’s oldest profession is said to be prostitution. The originator of the phrase “the world’s oldest profession” was Rudyard Kipling. His 1888 story about a prostitute begins, “Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world.” However, if you think about, a sale of some sort likely preceded that quote.

Sales by Definition

Sales by definition – the exchange of a commodity for money: the action of selling something. Sadly that definition lacks the appropriate depth. Because whether you are selling something for money in the traditional sense, everyone and I mean everyone from the janitor to the CEO will be selling co-workers, the public, committees, and teams on their ideas.

If people don’t like to be marketed to, then almost for certain no one likes to be sold something. A big perception to the sales professional is largely their own fault. Sales professionals are viewed as manipulative, cunning and very self-serving. It’s like a person with super powers and you can make a decision to use them for good and bad.

Frankly, sales can be a very fast path to making a lot of money. Stay put, climb the corporate ladder, get promoted and eventually pull down a really good six-figure salary. In today’s business world, sales executives are coming out the gate with a six figure salary which is a big problem (in my opinion ).

The Problem with Sales in 2017

The whole life span of a sales executive is accelerated. Businesses have always wanted to bring in sales person that can hit the ground running, which means in the past bringing your Rolodex or in 2017 your LinkedIn contacts. The problem is that the ramp up period for sales has hit from immediate to almost 3-months. Sadly 6-figure salaries are the norm, especially with most companies, regardless of the industry.

Remember when you actually had to sell something in order to make that type of money. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy for my sales friends and it’s a big step forward to realizing that whether you’ve won a deal or not. Sales leaders bring value to a business regardless if they win a deal immediately or not. They are on the front lines of marketing for the business as well…If we are going to pay our marketing people a good deal of money to own and execute the strategy, we should be able to live with the sales professional helping to spread the good word for a business 1×1.

Remember when you actually had to sell something in order to make that type of money. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy for my sales friends and it’s a big step forward to realizing that whether you’ve won a deal or not. Sales leaders bring value to a business regardless if they win a deal immediately or not. They are on the front lines of marketing for the business as well…If we are going to pay our marketing people a good deal of money to own and execute the strategy, we should be able to live with the sales professional helping to spread the good word for a business 1×1.

6-Figure Salaries Are Now the Norm in Sales and So Are Expectations

However, because a business is willing to pay a sales executive a $100,000 base salary, the expectations for production are aligned with that type of income. Compensation plans revised to be more modest likely would have a better motivating factor for sales people to move the needle. However, products and organizations have become so complicated to navigate. Sophistication with products can take 3 and sometimes 6-months just to learn what’s in your bag, let alone what they can do and the value proposition behind them.

Why Selling Ice to an Eskimo is Just Plain Stupid

See I have a huge issue with the cliches’ of sales professionals. Why in the world would you want to sell ice to an Eskimo? An Eskimo would not need more ice unless they are an igloo contractor. Sell them a spear, warm coat, a new ice auger, hopefully, you get the point. Sell them something they need.

Always Be Opening Instead of Closing

Seems the right of passion for everyone is sales is to repeat the Glenn Gary Glenn Ross, Alec Baldwin’s most profound 5-minutes in cinematic history spoke these words that have reverberated through the sales community for the past 30-years, “A.B.C., always be closing…” The problem with that statement in today’s world is that we need to be always be opening.

Ben Affleck in Boileroom did his best Alec Baldwin, and it’s pretty darn good. Again, slimy, aggressive, salesman, that throws the keys to his Ferrari on the table. Ben’s a stock broker looking to extract money from his clients and coaching brokers at the firm to win at all costs. The quote goes:

“There is no such thing as a no-sale call. A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can’t. Either way, a sale is made; the only question is who is gonna close? You or him?” 

So with expectations being so high for sales executives to ramp up quickly, performance is an entirely different conversation. have 2 bad quarters and you will likely get put on a plan. The plan is you either have a good quarter and hit your number, get to your on-target-earnings or you are out.

While I agree, sales is a performance driven role. However, if you look on LinkedIn the average tenure of a sales professional is 1 – 3 years. And depending on the industry, it becomes a world of re-treads. I like to look at it this way. From a sales perspective, the most difficult sale you will make is breaking into the good ole’ boys club. Once you do you are a made man. Think I’m wrong? Look at the LinkedIn profile of professionals that have worked at Oracle or GE., They generally have also spent a few years at CA, NEC, Salesforce.com, SAP, Siemens, Philips, etc. I get it…It’s a

I get it…It’s a high-tech industry, but like a professional football coach, there’s a belief that timing, management, product, etc. will be different and the individual brings the LinkedIn Rolodex. The fact of the matter is that if sales organizations were built to have patience with ramp up times, reasonably aligned quotas, sales professionals would have more time to develop a relationship and truly understand the dynamics necessary to invest into people and their business.

Sales Methodologies Drive Sales

Instead of moving agendas…Don’t get me wrong. Whether you find yourself in a solutions based selling environment, customer centric, celebrate the Dale Carnegie catalog, spin selling or the ever popular challenger sale.

I get it. You are establishing trust, building rapport, investing into the person and the business, and truly positioning something of need. What is lost in the sales process is that the individual is hired often times because they have relationships, but once they are hired we often look for that sales professional to advance the company.

Passion and Patience – Keys to Successful to Being a Successful Sales Professional

My most successful sales roles are a result of 2-things. #1 – First and foremost my passion for what I am selling. I believe that when the chips are down. Highly competitive people love being in the environment, assume the risk, and love the outcome. However, the majority doesn’t have any care in the world that whether it’s real-estate, cars or high-tech, what the outcome can mean for the other individual, more importantly, a true passion for what they are selling.

#2 – Relationships – When working with a company, sales manager, that essentially is/was looking for me to advance the agenda as quickly as humanly possible strained the relationships to the point I would not actually call on certain ones so I wouldn’t destroy them and I would always have my reputation in line. Given the opportunity, I’d rather establish a relationship today with nothing to sell you and just invest into you. Whatever I can do to bring a business or an individual value, without having any expectation of anything in return. In my own business, when I’ve been able to implement the patience necessary is when I’ve reaped the biggest ROI.

DOYO Live Sponsorships

Sponsors for DOYO Live come in a couple of different flavors. We have our year long sponsors, we are grateful for those relationships. JuggerBot 3D is one of them. I’ve had a 3-year relationship with their start-up. It started on Saturday mornings at the Youngstown Business Incubator 2-years ago. We would get together and go through marketing workshops. Never once was there an exchange of ideas or workshop sessions for money.

In fact what I took out of those Saturday mornings was the fact that I had a belief in a need for a marketing conference. Almost 3-years later after DOYO Live in 2016, Dan Fernback, CEO of JB3D called me up to discuss how we could work together. They are now a year-long sponsor of DOYO. We are integrating them (sponsors) into our content strategy on a consistent basis and helping them with their lead generation and marketing efforts.

In reality I don’t look at that as a 3-year sales cycle, frankly I never once did the marketing workshop on a Saturday morning for free with the intent I would one day get paid. I was just trying to bring value to a group of young entrepreneurs business.

DOYO Live also has more of a traditional sponsorship package. These are setup to bring as much value as we possibly can to our partners. My belief is and always has been, don’t just put someone’s business logo on a sign. Integrate them into the content marketing strategy. Put them in a blog, email, or bi-directional endorsement on social media. That’s huge! DOYO Live is delivering over 125,000 online impressions each month. In December we had a banner month hitting over 200,000 people.

More importantly, we are not just wide with the total amount of eyeballs we get on content, we have depth. People engage with us on social, read our emails, contribute content to our blog and so on. Learn more about our sponsorship packages, download today!

3-Ways Marketing Can Help Sales

The other challenging part for a number of businesses is how sales and marketing work together.

I’ve been in a unique position to have been in both sales and marketing roles in my career. This perspective has helped me to have a great relationship with sales while in marketing roles and vice versa. There are a number of companies that have a fracture between their sales and marketing departments. It is literally the big pink elephant in the room that everyone resists to acknowledge is present. Below are three ways for marketing to win sales over, none of them have anything to do with providing warm qualified leads, and everything to do with improving and growing the relationship between sales and marketing:

 

 

#1 – Treat sales as a customer

Fellow marketing professionals will more than likely disagree with my following statement but it’s true. Marketing should look to support sales in any capacity necessary in order to help win more deals…as opposed to many marketers feeling sales supports marketing. If you treat your sales force like they are your customer you will see a big improvement in meeting the needs of sales and winning more deals.

#2 – Walk in their shoes

Marketing people that sit in the ivory tower are missing a big beautiful world. How can you possibly market your goods if you are not out with the feet in the streets! The best way to do this is to be out regularly with sales, in front of customers, hearing the feedback directly from the end user, listening to the objections, living through the rejection and celebrating the success. Sales will respect you 1000% more by simply making yourself available on their turf. This includes at all company functions hanging with your sales teams at dinner, happy hour, and social functions. Be sure to pick up a few checks along the way.

#3 – We vs. You

Marketing tends to leverage sales, in addition to marketing, to help drive behavior for events, such as webinars, trade shows or simply in marketing. You will need buy-in from sales to ensure the success of a program. It starts by pulling everyone along, this is much better accomplished when everyone is in the same boat, rowing the same direction. Never, ever, ever, address your sales force with “you.” Instead “we” have an upcoming trade show and “we” have a goal of hitting a certain lead count and here’s what “we” are going to do. Doesn’t matter if it’s an email, conference call…and for me, it is always “we.”

When all else fails, invite your sales organization out for a team dinner, breakfast, bowling or make sure you are willing to pick up a tab at happy hour. That’s a great way to show you are investing into the team, building rapport and treat them well!!!

 

ABOUT DOYO Live

DOYO Live is a digital marketing and interactive design conference in Youngstown, Ohio. DOYO is quickly becoming one of the premier marketing conferences in Ohio. Our mission is very simple: We provide ongoing education and professional development marketing, business, sales and design professionals. We accomplish this through our online properties such as this blog, webinars, The DOYO Live Marketing Show on Facebook, social media and in-person workshops, consulting and our annual marketing conference in Youngstown, Ohio.

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