The Lost Opportunity in the Education System
Posted on 4th March 2017 at 17:18
The Most Vital Business Function
In business, nothing happens until someone sells something. You can make the best product in the world, and lots of them, but if someone doesn’t make a sale, the company is doomed.
In order to make the sale, companies need to equip sales people with a broad range of skills and behaviours and the sales person needs to equip itself with the right mindset.
It is true, Sales has got itself a bad reputation over time. In fact, ignoring the extra ‘s’, for many, sales is a four-letter word, and that is such a shame.
We all sell, all the time. It is part of what we are and how we survive. Yet still the word conjures images of boiler rooms of cheap suited Wall Street wolves stripping flesh from the weak and needy. We imagine gangs of roaming rodents depriving poor pensioners of their nest eggs in exchange for needless patio extensions and replacement windows, and while sadly these creatures still exist, they are not sales people, they are just scavengers.
The truth is Sales is a vital function in any business, and the lack of it or poor execution is partly to blame for the failure of so many businesses. For students, an appreciation of sales skills, regardless of what they will do in their careers will help them to thrive and communicate effectively, and to progress in their chosen careers.
Stop Selling and Start Helping
For reasons that would need too much space to go into, at some point in the past, sales became something you did to someone, not something you did with someone, and as a result buyers became suspicious, wary of being manipulated and coerced into a bad purchase.
Globalisation resulted in a more complex and competitive business environment, and the risk and cost of bad purchases increased. Buyers were forced to get smarter. At the same time the information age enabled buyers to be more easily informed. Armed with a greater knowledge of what they were buying, their dependence upon sales people for information reduced and they were able to take control of the conversation.
Recent studies have repeatedly shown that sales are the losers. Despite an industry with many thought leaders adding to the conversation with tips, tricks and tools, studies from Forrester show that only 9% of sales people hit their targets every year and buyers find value in only 1 in 8 meetings on average.
The winners in the sales environment now, are the ones who understand that they real key to selling is that we should all stop selling and start helping. They don’t get involved in sharp practices, instead they simply understand on a human level, precisely what their prospect/customer is attempting to achieve, what results they desire and what is critical for them to solve, so that they are equipped to provide compelling solutions that address all of the key issues whilst demonstrating how they outperform their competitors.
This new wave of successful sales professionals and entrepreneurs operate from a higher level of awareness, with the best interests of their customers at heart. They turn the spotlight away from products and services and fix it on their customer real reasons for wanting to buy so that they can enhance dialogue, create an environment of open, honest communication get to the heart of the matter, then provide great solutions that meet and exceed expectation. For all the right reasons, they win, more often than not and they do so with elegance and compassion.
And the great news is you don’t have to be an extrovert, or a superstar sales ninja who looks slick and talks fast. You simply have to see sales in the right context, and turn up in an authentic and helpful way. Sales is for all of us. We do it all the time, we just don’t realise it.
Students and Businesses Are Missing Out
Over the last 30 years, I have been on courses too numerous to mention, covering, Negotiation, Presentation Skills, Self Awareness, Effective Communication and The Art of Conversation, Time Management, Questioning Skills, Consulting, Coaching, Collaborating, Self Management and so much more.
Show me a student that would not benefit from learning about a discipline that requires such a broad range of skills and behaviours. Right now, as you read this article, there are students all over the world attempting to sell. They may not realise it, but they are selling themselves, their ideas, their beliefs, their community and their passions.
If they knew even the basics, they and their environment would inevitably improve. Their conversations would improve as would their ability to get into massive rapport with the people they meet. They would become more self-aware, they would interview better, and add more value to their organisations. They would have the confidence to start their own businesses earlier, develop empathy, listen more, learn more and they would generally make the world a better place.
In effect, teaching Sales skills to students is teaching students how to communicate productively, collaborate and self-develop. Taught properly, it also provides insight into the true nature of competition.
So why isn’t Sales taught in schools? A friend who has just finished a MBA, told me “………the course touched on sales, but not in any serious way”.
Are we not missing a great opportunity? The delegates on the MBA course, like school students will spend a great deal of their life selling, whether they like it or not, so why not teach them how to do it properly? Why not give industry young people who already understand how to position an argument, how to ask powerful questions, how to collaborate and how to structure and close a deal?
I understand that there may be a funding gap in schools, and that teachers will not have the skills to teach sales, but where there is a will…. You do not need a Ph.D in Sales yet, although that would be nice. What is required is the first step, a basic level qualification taught and delivered by experienced sales professionals who have embraced the new way of selling, where sales is about helping the parts so that the whole can benefit.
Schools could easily form partnerships with local businesses who can demonstrate an evolved sense of what it is to sell and help prepare students for what is arguably be the most portable and fundamental business skill.
In my ‘Master The Sales Conversation Masterclass, I can’t help noticing how ill equipped SME business owners are to sell their products. Could this be a major contributing factor as to why over 80% of new business fail within 5 years of starting up?
Of course, we are missing an opportunity. It’s time to introduce Sales into the curriculum. Not only because students need to sell things, not only because students need to sell themselves, but because when we teach someone how to sell properly, we teach them how to help the world and we teach them how to become more.
What could go wrong?
As a Speaker, Sales Trainer and Accredited Master Coach (CSA), Glen Williamson is passionate about helping SME business owners and sales professionals of all levels reach new height of sales performance delivery.
Taking his 30 years of experience in sales and business development, Glen founded GWC Sales Training in 2011 to deliver consultancy and training for clients across a wide range of sectors including logistics, financial services and oil and gas.
Meeting the needs of our increasingly complex and competitive business environment, Glen’s “Master The Sales Conversation Masterclass”, and Complete Target Account Selling Program create interactive opportunities to embed new ideas and techniques for consistent, predictable sales success.
Glen believes that sales is a collaborative process, part of who we are and how we survive, and at its core, should be a desire to ‘help’, not ‘sell’.
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