by Tim Roberts
I am paid to weigh in. I have never been invited to a meeting to sugarcoat, gloss over, or withhold insight relating to sales performance. I’ve no interest in being accused of sales malpractice and on more occasions than I can count, I’ve found myself saying, "I don’t know, Mr. Owner, perhaps you’re the problem." That direct, but incomplete, assessment is often the correct one.
Business owners are the very fiber of our country. I am proud of every single one of them, whether they’ve succeeded or failed. The guts they demonstrate every waking day rocks my world. If I could, I’d insist the president give them all a purple heart. Owning a company and bearing the load of all that comes attached is simply not for everyone.
The same can be said for sales. It’s a tough assignment wrapped in unrelenting pressure. And while both roles share overlapping attributes such as risk taking, thick skin, and self-responsibility, owners confuse who they like with who they need. Good owners typically do not make good salespeople and vice-versa. Of course that’s not a rule because we all know selling owners who rule the roost. Still, it shouldn’t surprise you that many business owners don’t even like salespeople.
So here’s the rub: Launching a good idea and selling a good idea are two different challenges. Business owners often don’t align themselves with strong selling beliefs and strategies because they have an outdated viewpoint of what current selling behaviors are. I find it ironic that owners know salespeople are the foot soldiers that bring in the money, but often don’t like to be sold themselves and pay gatekeepers well to hold the pesky invaders at bay. They mask their discomfort with sales by emphasizing customer service. Owners believe they’ll win in the long run if they commit to being nice and provide unparalleled customer service. They forget that without sales there is no opportunity for service.
Owners unconsciously hire salespeople just like themselves. And "just like them" may mean incredible product knowledge, persistence, honor and integrity, but that’s not the full recipe. While I’d hire those traits all day long, guts and vitality combined with planned, consistent daily behavior and an insistence on accountability will let the sales cream rise to the top. Ego-drive, empathy, and style are key ingredients, too.
If you’re the owner, you’re probably the driver and the inspiration that brings home the bacon. But do a gut check. Are your self-limiting beliefs about salespeople the Achilles heel of your selling efforts? Have you taken full responsibility for the results of what you believe so passionately in? Does your sales culture fully understand and appreciate the triad of selling: Behavior, Attitude and Technique? Or, just perhaps, are you the problem?
For more on this and other timely sales topics, contact Tim Roberts at Sandler Training, Trustpointe, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-845-0041.