"Selling is a life skill not just a business skill" - Interview by John Smibert
In this discussion Sue Barrett states all employees have a role to play in sales..
"I think for far too long businesses have sent the sales team out, and said, "You're responsible for customers."
"In the complex digital world we now live in, customers can get access to anyone, by default or design, across the business.
Everyone has to know how they help and support our customer engagement strategy"..
See the full discussion below where Sue explains how "the smart companies are making this is a company-wide initiative".
Sue is an authoritative thought leader and an accomplished author on the selling profession. She's also founder and CEO of Barrett and SalesEssentials.com.
John: Hello, I've got Sue Barrett with me again - welcome back, Sue!
Sue: Thanks, John!
John: Hey Sue, I've heard you talking about selling as being everybody's business, not just the salesperson's. Tell me what you mean by that.
Sue: Well, I think for far too long businesses have just pointed the finger at, and sent the sales team out, and said, "You're responsible for customers." In the digital world and in this sort of complex world we now live in, customers can get access to anyone, by default or design, across the business. But besides that, everyone has to know how they help and support our customer engagement strategy.
John: I can sympathize with that. As you know, I do a lot of personal branding in organisations, and I help them look at the personal brand of every person. When you look at some of these personal brands digitally, LinkedIn and so on, they don't reinforce, one, the company approach, the company strategy and brand, but two, they don't even reinforce the fact that they have value to deliver to a customer, and therefore they're not really thinking they're part of an organisation. Whether they're in sales, in consulting and service, they have a face (physical or digitally) to the customer and the customer will be seeing them.
Sue: Absolutely. There's a really great story that I don't know if you saw it in Sydney, but in Melbourne... It was about a chap who was not getting much cut through with Centrelink. He was a student and he had his payments cut off, and no one was helping him at all, and he was finding it incredibly frustrating, like hours and hours of just wasted time and effort, and he knew he had been cut off inappropriately, so something must have happened.
So, credit to him, he went and looked on the Internet, and he actually found the heads of departments who were running Centrelink, and he actually made what we would call prospecting phone calls to these people, to let them know about his situation, and went straight to the source. He was able to actually get results because he decided that he would just go and speak to the heads of these departments who were responsible ultimately for how the customer-facing people in this organisation were behaving and conducting themselves.
So, you know, you can wash your hands of it, "I don't have to deal with the customer." But yes, you do, and we can find you - anyone could be found. If you want to look at it that way, you've got to be ready. But beyond that, we shouldn't have to be forced to be customer-centric.
John: In this day and age that whole process of the buyer moving from, "Hey, I think I've got a problem here," right through to ultimately making a decision, there's lots of touch points in different organisations, and if you're looking at our organisation, you'll see information coming, he or she will see information coming from a whole host of sources within our organisation. We need to make sure that they're consistent, that everybody knows their role, and we're managing that process as they're going through.
Sue: The other point though we need to think about as well is that selling is a life skill not just a business skill, and it's about how we actually understand another person; if that's internally or externally, it's a really good skill that we need to have. Quite a few of the organisations that we work with are in fact now making sure that the whole sales strategy, sales messaging, value proposition, and then some of the communication skills necessary to be effective are in fact actually communicated, and, if you like, orchestrated across the entire organisation.
John: You find a lot of people, I'm sure you find this, that aren't in sales think, "Well, I don't want to sell, selling is like a dirty word." But the reality is selling is about helping, selling is about giving and creating value for other people. It's not about taking.
John: And as soon as non-salespeople I talk to understand that, it makes a world of difference for them.
Sue: Well, how we've been combating that as well is that we actually have this free online module that we've been giving out to people in organisations, and it's about the history, philosophy and ethics of selling. What it does is it scrubs everyone's brain, if you like, about what good selling actually is versus what they might perceive selling to be. And it's been amazing, because when people actually-they don't have to actually be a salesperson, but if they can appreciate and understand what good selling actually looks like, and the effort that good salespeople go to to do the right thing by customers and their organisation, there's is newfound respect, I find, for salespeople.
John: And they also know how to support the salespeople, the sales team, and you'll start getting an organisation looking like one team to the face of the customer, and that's very powerful.
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis[/caption]
Sue: Absolutely. So, more work to be done, John, a lot more work to be done, but the smart companies are realizing that if they make sure this is a company-wide initiative... Just like safety in many organisations is mandated and we have to have safety, I believe we should have sales as the other one in terms of how we actually mandate customer-centricity and helping each other help our customers.
John: We all have a sales role we need to understand; no matter what your role is in the organisation, you are part of the overall sales team.
Sue: Yes, yes.
John: A very good message, and hopefully is valued. Hey, salespeople and sales leaders out there, communicate this out to the rest of your team, and by all means use this video! Thank you very much, Sue!
Sue: My pleasure!
Past interviews with Sue Barrett:
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