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May 7, 2018 // Dan Harsh

“Sales” What is it?

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What is the true definition of sales? If you were to ask multiple sales managers, business owners, or even salespeople, you would receive multiple answers. Why doesn’t sales have one clear definition?

I believe we have allowed sales to become too inclusive and too watered down. For many companies, sales has become an umbrella term that covers many tasks and functions. Allowing sales to become too broad or too vague can and does have a negative impact on your organization.

Sales is the heartbeat of an organization. Sales is the very thing that we must never waiver on. As a result, I formed the below definition of sales:

“Sales focuses on finding and closing new business from new customers 100% of the time.”

Before we dissect this definition of sales, let’s consider the types of functions, tasks, and responsibilities that most companies include under the general term of sales:

• Prospecting and selling to new prospective customers
• Selling products or services to existing customers
• Managing and servicing existing customers
• Handling customer service issues from existing customers
• Drafting & creating proposals for existing customers and new potential customers
• Managing a pipeline of quotes and proposals for existing customers and new potential customers
• Working on sales presentations for existing customers and new potential customers
• Conducting face-to-face meetings and/or online webinars with existing customers and new potential customers
• Travel to existing customers and to new potential customers
• Managing inbound leads
• And more…

I am sure you can add even more to the list. I think we all agree that each item listed above is important and needed. No one is debating the validity of the above list. However, the question becomes where we assign the above tasks.

For many companies, sales has become too broad and too inclusive. When sales is not clearly defined, sales is inefficient. When sales is not clearly defined, we allow all who are in sales to determine what is important, where they need to spend their time, and what is and is not a priority. Generally, this results in people spending time where they want or where it is easiest which often doesn’t align itself with the goals or objectives of the organization.

In my experience, when sales is not clearly defined, the very thing that ends up getting sacrificed is prospecting for new business from new customers. The reason for this, ironic as it may sound, is because the thing salespeople like the least is cold calling and prospecting. They would much prefer being in front of an existing customer, delivering a presentation, or working on a proposal. However, the act of prospecting, picking up the phone, or cold calling is not one of their favorite things to do.

If we adopt the sales definition above, below is what the above list would look like:

• Prospecting and selling to new prospective customers
• Drafting & creating proposals for new potential customers
• Managing a pipeline of quotes and proposals for new potential customers
• Working on sales presentations for new potential customers
• Conducting face-to-face meetings and/or online webinars with new potential customers
• Travel to new potential customers
• Managing inbound leads

As you can see, any reference to existing customers has been removed. My definition of sales does not include any reference to existing customers. What then do we do with the functions that have been removed? Most everything that is crossed out would fall under Account Management but definitely not sales.

I believe a successful sales organization must have a dedicated role, function, or group that only focuses on finding and closing new business from new customers. Every group within your organization exist because you first had to find a customer.

Sales is the heartbeat of your organization. Nothing exists without customers. We must give 100% effort and focus on managing and servicing our existing customers. Maintaining our current customer base is extremely important and justifies 100% of our focus. At the very same time, we must give 100% effort and focus on finding and closing new business from new customers. Combining these two tasks into the same person or group is not effective or efficient.

Servicing existing customers and finding new customers is critical to the success or failure of every organization. Each requires dedicated resources and unique skillsets.

Imagine your organization having an effective dedicated group or person who did nothing but find and close new business from new customers 100% of the time. Imagine every day, eight hours per day you had a dedicated focus on finding that next new customer. What would your sales pipeline look like if you had a dedicated focus on building and adding to it each day? What would your sales look like if you were bringing in new customers each month at a higher rate than you are doing currently?

Adopting the above definition of sales will cause you to reevaluate your sales structure. This definition doesn’t mean you have to spend more money. In fact, if set up correctly and effectively, it could cost less than you spend currently and increase revenue and profit at the same time.

Is your organization set up to effectively service your existing customers without sacrificing time away from finding new business from new customers?

How does your organization define sales?

 

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