Sales is a dynamically changing field. Those who are not familiar with it believe that the same thing always needs to be done: just sell the product or service. Anyone who has ever delved into this profession knows that it involves quite complex processes, in which the effective cooperation of the salesperson, the image of the company, leaders, communication – and I could keep listing the affected fields – are all needed to succeed. People constantly try to find the balance between two principles: “we should not overcomplicate things because, at the end of the day, we just need to sell” and “we should not think that salespeople themselves can make miracles happen”. COVID-19 came to the fore during this challenging situation.
The Employer’s Side
What employers unequivocally expect from sales is that revenues should increase, but they should hardly hear about it. Of course, this expectation has more and less intelligent forms. The differences in intelligence significantly influence opinions about sales and how people communicate about it. However, in many cases, this fundamental expectation is articulated well and wrapped up in the finest communication. The size of the company has a major effect on expectations. In a multinational corporate culture, even the leader and the leader’s leader are employees, so they obviously have a calm attitude towards this issue, unless sales results are an important factor of their career-building. The smaller the company, the closer sales is to the owner. The closer it is, the greater the expectations, which is unfortunate because sales activity is no longer “only” about one career, but about their personal money. Several people try to manage it in different ways; they want to handle sales at an appropriate level, but we have seen that very few owners have managed to implement it in practice. They usually do not understand the sales processes, which is not a problem because… why would they be familiar with them? The problem is that although they are not familiar with this field, they have explicit opinions about everything. There are exceptions: those owners who managed sales activities early on in their companies, so they know the hardships and pitfalls of this profession, and they know what salespeople face day by day. These owners usually build good sales teams because they are “idols” themselves in the eyes of the new salespeople. The problem is with the “onlookers” because not even the best salespeople understand why outsiders want to have a say about a profession with which they are not at all familiar. The same attitude applies to the leaders of great organisations as well.
The Employee’s Side
When I was building up my first sales team, people responsible for my development told me that salespeople are a different “archetype”. A good salesperson is made of entirely different stuff than a back-office employee regarding their way of thinking, motivations, and emotions. We need to learn it, get to know it, and not only accept it, but embrace it as well. If we cannot go through this process as leaders or owners, we will not be able to form, unite, and motivate a sales team for impressive results. It must also be mentioned that salespeople are not uniform; not all of them have the same traits. Some of them are more active, while others are more passive. Some of them are good at acquiring new clients, while others excel at keeping clients. However, they must have something in common: they strive for success and assess success based on income. No other fields are like this. There are positive exceptions in the case of managers, but this attitude is not typical. What is more, salespeople must see unlimited opportunities to be able to execute a great performance. Salespeople must love money. They can love it out for vastly different reasons; however, it is a fact that they have to love it. COVID-19 will show a clear picture in this regard as well. Now, a lot of people shake their heads, claiming that their salespeople earn considerable sums, but the above-mentioned traits do not characterise them. They are not salespeople then, but executors. That is back-office wrapped in a sales disguise.
Companies will need real sales to restart in 2021. To this end, they need to know where their current sales operation currently stands.