The chasm between WHY and HOW
What we learn in school is needed in order to have the directions of the route we go. A map of the human and professional slope that we have to climb. A useful workout before the ascent. Only that the milestones to be reached is not the route itself, and the training not rise. That is, either we apply too little of what we have learned or the curriculum does not cover the entire spectrum of challenges in everyday life and at work. In a nutshell, we have educated ourselves with the question‘WHY?’ and we are required at workplace to answer the question ‘HOW?’.
The leaders who don’t know to sell
An example of the differences between what leaders are taught and what they need to do is the sales process. It seldom happens that those who end up in leadership positions learn how to drive a sales process. This topic does not even exist, most of the times, in the academic curriculum of the (business) schools leaders graduated.
Based on the above, we can say that the educational ‚WHY’ of the sales doesn’t even exist. Or, if it does, it doesn’t take the form of a taught academic discipline. It is rather informally known that companies have to sell to make a profit, but a clear learning a model, a direct installation of sales skills don’t exist. So, we come across the yesterday students conversed as leaders today within organizations, who have little notions about the sales process.
Sometimes the leaders of companies stem from the sales department and then things are better from this point of view because they have been trained “in the field”. There are cases however, quite a lot of them, when leaders do not have a sales background. Let’s skip the very used rhetoric in sales training that “we all sell”. By sales I mean the sales of a product / service by an employee who has information and knowledge that becomes operational in a process which aims to build trust and influence customer’s decision to purchase that product / service.
The relationship between sales and change
The case of organization leaders who have neither sales background, nor formal education in this area is very common. Now, it must be said that the simple sales course attendance in school is not an endorsement that one will be a successful salesman. Only that leaders who attend this topic have a better understanding and awareness of its importance in the process of changing the company. The role of a salesman is to be a change agent for the company and a consultant to the customer.
Increasing market share and sales volume, devising the price policy are the elements of a sales strategy with decisive role in the development and transformation of business. The process of change is possible when the product of dissatisfaction with the present situation, the vision of what is possible and the concrete steps to realize the vision are greater than resistance. Thus, sales process is one of these concrete steps towards achieving the vision and business transformation. The way the leader practice sales skills and capitalize on the decision position depends very much the success of the company.
The sales process at top management level
When it comes to the sales at the top management level between two companies, the process has some specifics as following:
- Direct contact with the highest decision maker – General Manager, CEO, Entrepreneur
- Sales volumes / purchase / service contracts are greater
- Receivables / invoice amounts are greater
- Shorter time of the selling process
- The role of the personal relationship is critical at the top management level
- The economic nature of the collaboration is complemented by a strategic nature as well
So, if in a concrete and effective manner leaders should know something very well, this something is to sell. To create contexts for building business relationships to facilitate their access to decision makers in companies of interest. Through direct contacts, participation in industry conferences, associations, chambers of commerce can build business relationships that will bring financial benefits to the company while building and business ecosystems.
The leaders and the networking
Here comes in another topic that is closely related to the sales namely networking. One additional aspect that also leaders do not learn in school, but networking is a door opener for sales. Creating a network of contacts relevant to the activity performed may bring in a pipeline of potential customers.
The connection with the people the leader meets and, in turn, the contacts of their network helps the sales process. Effective communication, along with the shared values and interests build personal relationship that can convert into more business. In this sense we can talk about social capital as an expression of the resources anyone can access through the network of contacts one has.
Unrelated to the accounting and legal definition, social capital flows eventually into the sales account. The size of sales figures is influenced by the size, quality and diversity of the network of contacts.
Leaders with a strong social capital are better informed, they are more creative, more effective, and respond better to challenges. With social networking of high quality and diversity, leaders save time because they know where to quickly access the information they need and easily create an environment of cooperation and collaboration.