The “S” Word

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Do you believe that being a sales professional goes beyond the title on your card?  I have, as recently as Friday of this past week, been involved in conversations about the “right” title for a sales professional in different organizations.  There is a belief out there that a title makes a big difference when trying to “engage potential clients in an evaluation (not sales) process, where you present a solution (sell them something), to enable a favorable decision (close a sale).”

The common thought out there is, if you use the word “sale” or “sell” in any part of your conversation or communication, you may be perceived as the dreaded “used car salesmen.” So we go to great lengths to separate ourselves from that image by calling ourselves “Business Development Managers,” or “Solutions Director,” or “Growth Strategist.”  We somehow think by changing the title, doors will magically open to prospects who never would have met with a “salesperson.”

I am not opposed whatsoever to having creative titles.  However, before you or I walk in the door of a prospective client, do you think they say, “I have a meeting with my Business Solutions Partner today”?  No, they say, “That sales guy from X Company is coming in today.”  Even if your title does get you “in the door,” it won’t keep you there.  What will keep you there is the decision to be the consummate professional, and to disprove every stereotype our not-so-professional peers, past and present, have created for us.

Here are a few key tips, on how to separate yourself, regardless of title:

  1. Understand your Product/Service — Know its strengths and weaknesses, and never exaggerate the strengths or ignore its weaknesses.
  2. Tell the Truth — I know, I shouldn’t have to say it, but the omission of information is as much a lie, as the one you say out loud.  Never tell a little white lie to get the deal, and then rely on your service team to “figure it out” once the client goes live. You will lose the client, lose the commission, and lose the respect of both the client and your service team.
  3. Recognize When You Should Walk Away — You have the power to walk away from business when it is not a fit.  Your boss will support you on this, because he/she wants you focused on the right product/service for the right clients.  The client to whom you say “No thank you,” just might appreciate that you didn’t waste their time, and work with you later when the time is right, or better yet, refer you to someone.
  4. Deliver What You Promise – From being on time to when the proposal is delivered, how much it costs, how it performs, as well as customer service levels.
  5. Build a Full Pipeline – – By working hard at the right activity, with the right prospects, you will have a deep pipeline that will give you the courage to execute on all of the above.

Sales professionals are some of the most courageous people in any organization.  They don’t get a full paycheck like everyone else at the company, and they put their personal and professional reputation on the line every day on behalf of the company — publicly.  By implementing the 5 practices above, you won’t have to worry about what title you have on your business card. You will be seen as a professional who is in the business of building productive relationships that provide shared value for your company and your clients.

Jack Kelly
Jack Kelly
Jack founded the Corlea Group in early 2009 with his first client coming on board in January of that year. Jack loves to coach. He coaches his clients and he helps coach his kid’s teams – it’s his passion and has been for over 25 years as a professional, father and volunteer. Why? Because he likes to help a team succeed.
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