Sales is too important to be left to sales

4 minute read


Guest Post: Paul Dilger, Director Product Marketing at The TAS Group

I want to build on one of Donal’s previous posts and start by adapting a famous saying attributed to David Packard of HP fame. He said that ‘marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.’ And since it’s true that nothing happens until somebody sells something, it follows that sales is too important, far too important, to be left to the sales department.

Many people are in non-sales roles for good reasons. They don’t like the cut and thrust of sales, the ring-the-bell, high-5, go-get-’em culture. They don’t like the high stakes of such a job, and while they would take the high returns, the accompanying high risk is not for them, nor for their life situation.

Also, they don’t have the sales perspective, they don’t see what their company produces from the sales angle. They design, make and deliver it from their perspective. It’s how they get their job done. Finally, and perhaps most damagingly, they don’t have a customer perspective.

Is there any difference between the sales perspective and the customer perspective? There shouldn’t be, otherwise you’re not aligned to your customers and you don’t create anything that has high value to them and high value to you. I’ve spent time selling, and I’ve spent time in marketing. I’ve marketed sales offerings and I’ve sold marketing offerings, so I’d like to think I’m pretty responsive and understanding when sales comes looking for my help. But I’ve also seen many people in non-sales roles who don’t consider the realm of sales and customers as anything to do with them, and will avoid being pinned down to any kind of interaction with their internal or external customers. ‘I’m in development/manufacturing/production (delete as appropriate), I don’t need these distractions, just leave me alone and let me do my job.’

In my first ever job after college I joined the graduate program of an insurance company. There were trainee managers, trainee sales people, trainee actuaries and trainee IT people. We were separated into functional teams and presented back on why our function was indispensible to the company. We then understood why each area was essential to the running of the company, and we respected the roles everyone performed. I never forgot that lesson.

The most successful organizations are those who recognize that if everyone is aligned, and everyone puts themselves in the customers’ shoes, then the whole is always better than the sum of the parts. You get all your arrows going in the same direction. If your non-customer-facing departments are hiding away from customers, you’ve got problems. If you help non-sales people feel like they’re a part of sales, they will want to help, since people like to help others in their own community. The sooner you acknowledge this and takes steps to address it, the more successful you’ll be.

You might like to try the following:

  • Ask each employee what’s the one thing that really gets him or her excited about your customers. You’re looking for passion in the answer
  • Make sure your on-boarding/orientation process includes a section on what all the departments in your company do, so they understand how it all fits together, but more importantly so they get the other departments’ perspective
  • Get your sales teams to present regularly your product, service or solution to your non-sales people. ‘This is how I sell what you build’ is a perspective that non-sales people almost never have. They need it, to better inform what they’re building
  • Get your non-sales people to present to sales ‘how we build what you sell’. Sales almost never have this perspective. You shouldn’t make it technical, you should make them get a perspective on what has to happen when they or the customer asks for something new
  • Consider giving your entire company access to your CRM system, so they can get closer to your customers
  • Consider giving them anytime access to your forecast and pipeline analysis (if you can have on-demand reporting), so they understand the importance to the company, and to them, of what’s coming down the pipe, and can prioritize accordingly
  • Do these 6 things regularly, otherwise you won’t change anything

Everyone sold themselves to get in your company. Everyone knows that in business, pressure is good, but stress is bad. Spread the pressure of sales throughout the company. It’s too important to leave all the stress to sales.


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