Sales is the core function

 Without sales, all the rest of the stuff that goes on in an enterprise is irrelevant. All the lofty strategies, policies, and well intentioned platitudes are dependent on the delivery of sales for their oxygen.

As a senior manager in a large enterprise, I used to annoy, sometimes terminally, marketing personnel by insisting they all spend periods of time, particularly during the annual peak sales periods, out in the field, carrying a bag, talking to the retail personnel of our customers, and interacting with consumers in the retail space.

Most came back energised, engaged and motivated, some did not, and they usually found their career prospects better elsewhere pretty quickly.

Often other functional management also benefitted greatly from seeing how the product they made, counted, delivered, or engineered lived in the sales environment.

50 interactions with intelligent customers and consumers, and those who preferred our competitor products may not be a statistically significant sample, but you will learn more from those interactions than you will from reading expensive research reports behind a desk.


About strategyaudit

StrategyAudit is a boutique strategy and marketing consultancy concentrating on the challenges of the medium sized manufacturing businesses that make up the backbone of our economy. The particular focus is on their strategic and marketing development. as well as the business and operational efficiency improvements necessary for day to day commercial survival. We not only give advice, we go down "into the weeds" to ensure and enable implementation.
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5 Responses to Sales is the core function

  1. strategyaudit says:

    I have taken technical people, accountants, and HR bods into the field, and all gain from it, apart from the few who, noted before, considered their career options amd moven on.
    The most productive trips into the4 field looking for NPD ideas overseas have been with technical people, who usually started being wary of the stores, suppliers, et al I took them to, but ended up as advocates of the practice.

    I also agree that sales should spend time doing others jobs, particularly those impacted by undertakings sales often tend to make in order to close a sale: “of course we can deliver tomorrow”. Puts a different light on those undertakings.

  2. michaelpinto says:

    Caveat: Having only spent a few months in the field I’ll try not to offer too much of a naive opinion.

    Being with your customers, seeing how they experience your product or service, and being immensed in the environment the offer is delivered in provides insight that is invaluable. Additionally, it may build confidence among people whom never thought of sales as an interest or career option and may also open their eyes to the customers perspective. Great article, thank you.

    • strategyaudit says:

      The more employees of an enterprise engage with customers, the better.
      What some times gets missed is the difference between customers and consumers.
      Walk into a supermarket, and the emnployees work for a customer, the people buying goods are your consumers. Both are critical, and require different stategies, but seeing them together, in store, offers a wealth of insight for those sufficiently switched on to see it.

  3. It is to my mind essential, particularly for marketing people who seem to think they “know sales” but usually have little idea.
    Frankly, I am a “nazi” in this regard, as I have seen the benefit over a lo0ng period.

  4. colinsander says:

    absolutely – and so obvious, yet so often forgotten

    I have had experiences in several client businesses of ensuring that everyone understood sales, and got to spend time in the field (also useful for salespeople to understand what life is like for people in the office, the warehouse etc)

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