Monday, September 25, 2006

Newsflash: Salespeople don't like process

For the rest of this year, my consulting shoes have been firmly left at home - and replaced with my winning smile, firm handshake, snazzy cufflinks and smart shirts.

Yes. That's right: I've temporarily crossed over to the sales side.

Now, I'm not actually being a salesperson (I haven't been to Sales School and you don't just "become" one, in any case) and I'm not actually doing sales. Rather, I'm working alongside the services sales team as a technical expert. I guess you could call it "technical sales" for services sales.

The role is fascinating and challenging in equal measure.  It has given me a greater respect for the sales discipline but also provided a real insight into what makes a sales professional successful. Let's just say that following the process is something most of them hate. They know they have to.... and they do follow it.... but I've rarely seen a group of people less comfortable than those in the "getting to know the process" session I attended today.

If it wasn't for their commission cheques, I might even feel a little sorry for them :-p


HP said...

So what does make a sales person successful?
What drives them (is it really money and egos?!) to do their day job.
What do they think of techy people and are they right?

Richard Brown said...

Wow.... if I knew that, I'd probably not still be working for IBM.... I'd be running my own company and enjoying being rich!

The sales people I've worked with so far seem to have a good respect for the technical people: they know they need us in order to be successful. However, I suspect they have no time for techy people with no grasp of the commercials: they need technical detail explaining to them in terms that are relevant.

The main characteristic I've found that they all share - and which differs to me - is that all the ones I've worked with to date prefer face-to-face contact or telephone to email.

They are also not prone to theorising or engaging in intellectual discussions.

I would be surprised if there were very many sales people who are also bloggers.

However, I'm probably guilty of generalising here. Those I've worked with closely so far are completely unique individuals.

As for egos..... I don't see them as particularly egotistic. I think success gives one confidence so successful sales people are likely to appear arrogant, I guess but they've all been polite and respectful.

However, they are focussed: they're not at work to socialise or play with cool technology: any meeting you have with them is for a reason.

I suspect a lot of this is due to the nature of their work: business is good and there are more opportunities than they know what to do with. This means their inboxes are always full.

Those of use who are more often project-based have more opportunity to plan our time and make space for relaxing. Their job is more relentless.

The biggest lesson I've learned so far, however, is that there's nothing magic to it: I feel sure that should I choose to, I could be successful in sales.

Henry said...

"Were it not for their commission cheques..." would be better.

Richard Brown said...

"Were it not for their commission cheques..." would be better.

Arghhh!!! I'll be getting "less" and "fewer" mixed up before long :-(