I think that sales people are really valuable, not only for their employers (as the bringers of cash), but also for their customers. My belief is compounded by the fact that the sales profession generally ranks high in the salary league (at least in complex B2B sales, and if you are somewhat successful of course) – remember, I am a strong believer in “your paycheck strongly correlates to the real value you create for humanity”.
But I don’t think people appreciate this value enough. So in this post, I will explain how this value is created.
Sales People Accelerate Change
Sales people’s job is really to understand the customer’s needs, and propose solutions based on those needs that the customers weren’t aware existed. By doing this, sales people actually act like the “oil in the machinery”, or accelerators of change and improvement. For customers, it can be difficult to make time to look for improvements. Day to day activities might have higher priority and it can be difficult to look for long-term improvements, unless this is a specific part of your job. Even if it is, it takes a lot of time to sift through a lot of information and it can be difficult to understand the differences between various products and what value each provide. Sales people, being experts in their area and having experience with other customers using their products, can articulate these differences more accurately and help potential customers understand how their product can make their lives easier.
References is a big part of the “filtering mechanism” that companies use to find areas of improvement. But sales people also help them “filter” the products that fit them from the products that don’t. Since sales people have experience with multiple customers who’s problems have been solved by their products, they can more effectively spot when their products can add real value.
Researching this before contacting companies is a big part of a sales person’s job. So when a company is contacted by a sales person, they have already saved a lot of time by not needing to research good product fits for their problems. The sales person has done it for them and the company just needs to decide if they want to move forward with the proposal or not.
Indeed, this is the reason that sales people still do exist. Because many transactions wouldn’t happen if the sales person hadn’t put in the time to research new potential customers, and summarized their proposal into a short and easy to make decision upon value proposition for their target to base a quick “go or no go” decision on.
Account Managers Are Their Customers’ Change Agents
As an account manager, your job is to understand your customers in-depth and seeing where value can be added by selling a variety of services and products that your company has. Then, presenting these possible improvements to the customers in a way that is easy for the customer to understand.
As such, the sales person is actually the customer’s own “expert in a product area” who can recommend the best solutions for the company. Again, this makes the sales person a change agent for the company and a valuable resource. A company that has a good account manager looking after them don’t need to put in as much of their own resources into researching how improvements can be made. Their various account managers do this job for them. This job creates real value, and the sales person’s compensation corresponds to this value add.
Sales People Drive Administration And Negotiations
Getting a a bit more down to earth, each change project is associated with a certain amount of administration and negotiation that needs to happen in order for the change to start. This is yet another area where sales people add real value. They are the engine driving, or entirely taking care of, this work.
Explained simply, this involves negotiations, contract drafting, pricing, project planning and securing the necessary resources for starting off the implementation project.
Sales People Are Their Employers’ Eyes and Ears
For the employer, the sales person is an important tool for understanding the world. The sales people act not only as the company’s mouth, but also as its eyes and ears.
A sales person can be a strong influencer of company strategy, either directly by talking to different management levels, or indirectly through the reports that the sales person generates.
Especially if a company has well defined sales related reporting systems and processes, the sales force contribute to information that helps the company understand its customer base and its competitors. The sales force thus provides valuable information both to marketing and product management.