Sales is about exchange, not currency
Let me start this article by asking you a question: What is ‘sales’? How would you particularly define it? Think of your own experience-based definition. If you wish you can leave a comment later, but for now just take some time and think about it.
Selling is as old as human trade and civilization. Back in time, we had to exchange things and goods in order to fulfil our basic needs. Exchange fish for corn, bread with gold, and eventually everything with currency. The reason behind this is to meet some specific needs as opposed to currency itself. Today, when we think of selling, we focus too much on the end game — money.
I am not saying that defining your sales’ goals by currency is a bad thing. On the contrary you must do that in order to quantify your objective. However, if you focus too much on the currency and not the value of exchange, you create a lot of friction, which is caused by the currency itself as a mediator between the buyer and seller. Hence, the value of exchange becomes less meaningful and pushes both parties towards a win-lose game.
Now, here is how sales should be defined and understood:
“Sales is a business and marketing sub-function that mainly engages with managing processes, products and services, with focus on dealing with buyers before, during, and after the value exchange”
Value exchange can have different meanings for different actors: for the seller(company or salesperson) and for the buyer (client or customer). Don’t just think money or product here, but instead think about adapting different elements in ensuring that both parties gain from the value exchange. Perhaps, this could be best depicted by grouping them as indirect-value and direct-value, as follows:
For the seller, the indirect value can come from the opportunity to build the relationship with a client, increase the brand value, word of mouth, recognition, and ultimately arrive to direct value such as purchase, referral, and repeated purchase.
Meanwhile, for the buyer, indirect-value can arise from different processes such as purchasing experience, advice and insights provided by the salesperson, and overall sales-purchase process. The direct-value mainly comes from the product or service that can be anything relevant to the specific needs of the buyer (education, entertainment, experience, security, safety, problem solving, opportunity seeking, etc).
Often an effective delivery of indirect-value builds up into direct-value and sometimes paves the road towards a final win-win selling. And that is how while defining sales properly, you manage to designate a mutually satisfactory outcome. Therefore, next time you go out to sell something don’t just think selling, cash or money. Instead, “Go out and exchange some awesome value”.