Is education really necessary to be a sales leader?
The oldest and most valuable profession in the history of the world is a profession in sales, yet the concept of the “salesman” is often met with disdain and cynicism. Why is that, do you think? My thought is that it stems from this “anyone can be a salesman” mentality which makes people feel as though proper training isn’t a priority. When one thinks this way, one ends up . . .
“Without sales, folks, nothing happens. The world literally stands still. A sales leader has got to be the most knowledgeable member of the company for it to function properly."
. . . with such negative outcomes which result in pushing this stereotype even further. The truth of the matter is that there are a great deal of things that would do well to be learned in the classroom environment long before entering into a sales career, and certainly before introducing yourself to a prospect and placing your company’s reputation on the line with every word you say.
As a business professional and career sales leader, I always keep my ears and eyes open for gossip, hearsay, and flies on the wall. In doing this, these are the things I have found. People genually seem to believe that the need for professional education in the field of sales is not an important aspect to have in the career. I would submit that to be inaccurate.
As salespeople, we are the face of our company, and our industry. We are the standard by which all is judged. Without us on the line to deal with customer concerns, inform and listen to the goals and issues of our prospects, and place our company and our own reputations on the line to present and deliver the solutions promised, the world would have no need for such other professions as accountants, managers, installation departments, manufacturing facilities, operations departments, and yes even executive committees. Without sales, folks, nothing happens. The world literally stands still. A sales leader has got to be the most knowledgeable member of the company for it to function properly.
A company is basically a large puzzle, and as such, formal education into the workings of how each piece fits together in that puzzle becomes essential to the success or failure of that sales leader. Ethics is a prime example of this. If more salespeople would take the time to learn and understand the importance of ethics in our field, there would be more money to go around (in all fields). More importantly, gaining a true understanding of one's field is essential for any leader in the marketplace today, sales or otherwise.
Being provided with more than a mere cursory understanding of the sales process and how it impacts other divisions is essential to functioning well as a leader in every company in the western world. Sure, this type of understanding and knowledge can be learned through gaining the experience on the job, but that takes longer, usually upsets customers, costs the company revenue, and leads to sloppy leadership. I believe that learning from our mistakes is important for any leader. After-all, that is all school is for; learning from the mistakes of others who have come before us to find out what failed and what worked, and that such practices need to be augmented with time. I can tell you for sure that things are much different today than they were just 10 years ago, but most courses I have observed are still preaching 10 or even 15 year old methodology. Why is that? Why do people in sales feel lie they can just wing it? We wouldn’t want our Dr’s doing things that way. Why should our sales careers. Why should our sales careers be any less important to study and learn to do effectively.
Learn before-hand, and the knowledge will serve everyone well. If we can just get the schools to learn that one point, then my job as the mentor is easy, your job as a future leader within the company is easier and quicker to adapt to, and you will gain quicker results and rewards. Most importantly of all is that your clients will feel better about you knowing that they are dealing with a professional sales leader who has taken the time to learn your craft and build a solid foundation of knowledge and experience on which you are attempting to base your business relationship with them and their company which will last for years to come. Everybody wins. That is why, as an educator, I preach so heavily the importance of study and reading, and learning from the exploits of those who have come before us.