What the Rest of Your Company Can Learn from Sales
Sales has become almost a repugnant word. It’s as if somewhere along the way we became averse to calling ourselves salespeople. Instead, we tiptoe around the word, made apparent by the fact that the titles “account executive” or “business development representative” are now commonly used. Yet there’s no denying that sales is necessary; it’s an art, and those who are good at it are powerhouse change makers (here’s looking at you, Marc Benioff).
Before joining the sales team at Salesforce, I worked in IT, engineering, customer support, marketing, and operations. These worlds are separated not only by functional purpose, but also by culture, motivations, work activities and tasks, incentives, and success criteria. Despite the differences, there are similarities and truths that carry over no matter which room of the house you occupy.
So let’s peek over the invisible dividing wall and take note on how successful salespeople operate:
They listen with intent and purpose. I often joke I moved into sales because I love talking — which I very much do. Undeniably, the ability to carry a conversation is important, but the first lesson our EVP of Commercial Sales, Tony Rodoni, taught me was that to be successful in sales, I needed to learn how to listen, and listen well. When it comes to thoughtful listening, impactful sales reps are listening to understand, not to respond.
They influence, not tell.
No one likes to be told what to do and for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. This is especially true sales. The more you push in one direction, the more the other side will push back. So, while great salespeople influence decisions, they never tell customers or prospects what to do. Influence, of course, comes from intentional listening, empathizing, and focusing on the problems that need to be fixed.
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