For 100 or more years, salespeople have been viewed in a certain, rather shady, light. They are pushy. They can be belligerent. They are demanding. They tend to balk at corporate structure and policy. They are “prim donnas.” They constantly have to be “reeled in.”
Yet without salespeople, most companies will certainly not succeed. Sales is where an enterprise’s income is made. The question then becomes, are they a “necessary evil”? Or are they actually a fantastic resource that has not been fully tapped for its income potential?
In organizing sales, many companies emphasize a “top down” approach. They utilize computer software that allows management to better control sales, to constantly view their activities, to alert them of potential problems or issues. As part of this process, they require considerable reporting on the part of salespeople. Since salespeople are usually on commission or commission plus salary, much of the time they put in unpaid overtime just to get these reports done and free up time during the normal workday to do with they do best: sell.
When salespeople become resistive to management, these are often the reasons why. They feel they are being “micromanaged.” They feel they are being weighed down with cumbersome paperwork. From their viewpoint they are trying to reach out and take as much control of potential sales as possible, and the methods by which they are managed serve to inhibit that reach.
Here we have a classic example of viewpoints in opposition. Management is attempting to control their bottom line as much as possible. Salespeople are trying to buck that control and free themselves up to sell better and more.
Sales managers and executives may or may not have the correct view of sales—in the end, that’s a matter for philosophical debate. What does become clear, however, is that they are not utilizing the full potential of salespeople.
It is true that salespeople possess a different set of qualities than the “average person.” But many of those qualities add up to the fact that they are creating their own lives, taking charge of their own income potential, and are capable of seeing opportunity where others would not. If you carefully examine these kinds of traits, you’ll make a startling discovery: these are the traits of entrepreneurs, the kinds of people that possess the fortitude to strike out and make a brand new start, the type that routinely makes “something out of nothing.”
If you take a brand new viewpoint—of salespeople as “entrepreneurs within the enterprise”—you begin to see the untapped potential.
A salesperson is your prime contact point to your customers and prospects. They know how well your product is working for customers, what your customers think about the product, and what improvements customers consider should be made to it. They know how customers are being serviced, and how that service is being perceived. They likely have right at the tips of their tongues suggestions that would immediately improve quality of product, quality of service, and perhaps even the overall corporate image.
Yet all too often all of this valuable information goes completely to waste, becoming fodder for after-work chatter over drinks amongst each other. Because there is no established line for it, most or all of this invaluable data never reaches management.
What if the true power and potential of salespeople could be unleashed? How much more success, could a company attain with these uniquely qualified individuals as part and parcel of the product and business creation cycle?
It is the dawn of a new era for the role of sales in the enterprise.
The ideas in this article are taken from the book Salespeople Embracing It All by Nikolaus Kimla. Get the first chapter of his book FREE for a limited time only.