After over a million titles (books, articles, podcasts, videos, training programs and everything in between combined) on sales and business development, it’s an established fast that everyone’s into sales.
And yes, that includes you and me! How we utilise our opportunities to represent our work or our company is an entirely different argument. Most freelancers, bootstrappers and/or entrepreneurs may not be savvy salespeople at the beginning but they eventually get good at it by exposing themselves to opportunities. Their experiences form a feedback mechanism that enables them to get better to die starving. And most choose the former.
Interestingly, all that exposure also helps them discover their true persona when it comes to selling. Some become master storytellers, some excellent negotiators and then some superb closers. Let me tell you, those are some of the cores skills required to grow any business in any economy. And that’s priceless!
On the flip side, we have the non-sales people who have an excellent opportunity to represent their company but they aren’t as effective. Why? Almost always, they’ve got “other” things and sales/business development isn’t really a part of their day-to-day responsibilities. And let me tell you, that’s a major issue because they get to meet a lot of people on a daily basis. Of course, not everyone is a prospect but there’s a massive opportunity for relationship building and getting exposed to a network of contacts that goes beyond the people. That’s a treasure trove of business, if leveraged correctly.
Unfortunately, most people in this group are also convinced that “it’s not their job.” While I agree to that partially — it’s not their job to tell a story, negotiate or close a deal — I believe building favorable relationships, communicating the organization’s vision and finding out how best they can help are aspects everyone in any organisation should be well versed with. Not for those once-in-a-month meetings but to be practiced everyday.
In fact, I can guarantee increased profitability for any company where representing the company is a daily practice. Yes, this means investing at least an hour or two everyday to actively prospect, to have conversations, get introduced or introduce key people in other organisations, form and take part in group conversations, leveraging opportunities to speak and educate/train people on your service offerings to say the least. One can’t help but attract a lot more opportunities over a course of time.
Remember, we’re not talking about hardcore “boiler-room” type selling. Professional sales isn’t about ‘smiling and dialing’ but building valuable relationships but for that you’ve got to show up everyday and wear your company’s mission and vision on your sleeves. Even if you’re not in sales.