Because It’s Not Just for Salespeople Anymore

“Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” “Everybody sells.” “You are always selling.”

How many times have you heard those old expressions? For decades the business world has paid lip service to the idea that selling is not just something that fulltime salespeople do. What’s new is that some smart companies now are taking the talk seriously.

Lately, forward-thinking companies have become increasingly aware that not only salespeople but everyone who interacts with a customer really does need effective sales skills.

Anytime anyone from your company has contact with customers, they have the opportunity to either sell or un-sell the customer.  There is no neutral when it comes to interacting with customers; the needle moves in one direction or the other with every customer contact. Therefore, whenever we have any kind of customer interaction, we are in a sales role.

Because more and more smart organizations are realizing this—and taking it seriously—sales training courses and sales coaching programs now are being delivered to a wide range of employees whose formal job descriptions have nothing to do with sales.

In other words, sales training isn’t just for salespeople anymore.

I have come to think of the new target audience as the nontraditional sales force. They are being not just encouraged but trained to sell whenever they come into contact with customers. We at The Sales Board are amazed at the range of people to whom we now deliver our sales training courses:  doctors and nurses, accountants and lawyers, technicians and engineers, marketers, customer-service reps, product-development specialists—you name it.

In some small to medium-sized companies, we are now teaching sales skills to the entire workforce. Indeed, when a business is interested in developing a sales culture, there is no better way than to train everyone in the company.  By doing so, you can install a common selling language that everyone uses to talk about potential deals.  Sales strategy infiltrates every department. Common sales processes are understood.  Selling becomes synergistic.

A big obstacle to training nontraditional salespeople: the stereotype.

If you set out to train your own nontraditional sales force, however, you face an obstacle. Standing in the way of effective sales training and sales coaching for a broader range of employees is the stereotype of the “born salesperson,” the extroverted, charismatic charmer with a natural gift of gab.

Any sales training program that treats sales skills as if they were dependent on certain personality traits is doomed to failure with nontraditional groups.  (The truth is, such sales training is ineffective for professional salespeople, too, but that’s another story.) Nontraditionals are not “born salespeople.” What’s more—and I can’t stress this enough—they do not aspire to be. Many of them abhor the very idea of selling.

Never in history has it been more important to challenge the prevailing idea of what constitutes quality in a salesperson.

Here is my definition of selling: the use of one person’s communication skills to gain a commitment from another person.

That means a great salesperson is one who succeeds, consistently, at gaining commitments from other people. Since selling is a communications process, not a natural “gift,” it can be learned by anyone, not just those with a particular personality style.

If you want to deliver sales training programs or sales coaching to the nontraditional sales force, you had better be talking about a process, not a gift of gab.

For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling.  He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations.  Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).