I flicked through one of the upended tropical forests of delusional surface-scraping self-help guides the other day. 321 pages, 12 chapters, with everything you need to know for business success as based on an MBA syllabus. How much prose was devoted to selling do you think?
One and a half pages.
That’s right, just 700 words. And almost a quarter of these recount such a bewildering tale of one start-up’s selling that you’re left with zero insight into precisely what it is about sales that matters.
I can’t help myself. Here’s a flavour.
Though essential, selling on its own is an inefficient method of getting potential customers to the point of buying.
Understanding the ‘ascending ladder of influence’, as marketers call it, puts the salesperson’s role in perspective.
This is a method to rank the ‘warm bodies’ a customer will encounter in the selling process in the order in which it is most likely to influence your customers favourably.
What on earth do us sellers have to do to be taken seriously? Never mind the chance to one day, as a purpose behind my blogging continues, make your mark as Chief Exec?
What’s even more galling is this admission, from the very first page, having just stated that he left his first job in the Army.
I found a job in sales and within a year or so was in a very junior management position
Then you get the flourish of a telling sales knock-back and its scarcely believable conclusion,
It was at this point that I realized that, in common with millions of others in business, I had little knowledge outside my own narrow discipline
Let’s get this straight. Here’s a chap that’s actually been in sales himself. He’s suffered at the hands of inept management. Yet now thinks the way forward is to master each and every ‘discipline’?
Just when you think all is lost, he then chides snobby business school deans for leaving out topics they consider beneath them. And would you credit it, that includes sales!
A prime example is the field of selling, which fits naturally into the marketing domain but, much to the surprise of MBA students, often fails to appear on the syllabus. There are thousands of professors of marketing, distribution and logistics, market research, advertising, industrial marketing, strategic communications and every subsection of marketing, but there are no professors of selling. Yet most employers, and students for that matter, feel that their MBA’s value would be enhanced by a sound grounding in selling and sales management.
A-ha! He’s one of us! Hold on. Why just the subsequent couple o’dozen sentences of selling instruction then?
Yes, I realise that there’s several elements that rank higher in an MBA’s priority than selling, but surely there are few that can provide such insight, exposure and propulsion to their career than Sales? How can it remain that virtually all MBA courses never even mention selling as a separate entity, let alone consider it a profession worthy of changing your game and ultimately power greater fortunes.
No wonder we’re always at the back of the queue when it comes to investment, planning, acceptance and stature within most organisations. We must change all this.