Monday, 29 November 2010


I have been thinking about the role and reputation of selling recently and the fact that you are much less likely to hear anyone say they want to be in selling than you should be. Apparently the desire to sell is declining even in America where Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” has become a reality.

But not in China where it’s a prized job…now that should tell us something.

It’s baffling because all great businessmen and leaders have to be good salesmen and they are. Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, Charlie Mayfield, Michael Dell, Jack Welch are or were great salesmen. Tony Hayward of BP was not – so he was the wrong man for that job.

The only two things that will get us out of this global mess are going to be great innovation and great salesmanship. And by salesmanship I mean not just the art of pitching or being a huckster, I mean the art of profound understanding of a product or service, the ability to present its benefits beautifully and engagingly, the ability to build long term relationships based on trust and an absolute commitment to customers needs.

The marketers meanwhile are brand building and creating social networks. Hell, I’ve been in marketing all my life and love it but the way some marketers talk about selling you’d think it was a very dirty word involving transactions and…money.

One-to-one selling is going to be the key to the future and you can forget the busted flush of Asian Contact Centres which have done perhaps more than anything else to damage the image of selling.

To be a great salesman you must be very bright, understand the business scene and what senior management have on their minds, be economics savvy, very intuitive, able to think on your feet, be a great presenter, think long term, be very margin focused and understand that real marketing is theatre. Like the incredibly rich Jamie Oliver.

Accountants can cut cost but they can’t increase sales income.

So it’s time to find out if you’re good enough to be a salesman now…and join the true, new heroes of the 21st century.

1 comment:

Ian Wilson said...

I agree - selling is sometimes regarded as a dirty word, but getting some-one sorted out, matched up with the right product or service and seeing the difference it cam make is satisfying, lucrative and fun.