A common misconception in “professional” consulting is that ONLY licensed industry professionals can manage enterprise sales. This misconception supports the erroneous notion that it makes sense to train licensed professionals in the “art” of sales. Fact is that most sales personnel are born “that way” and sales is anything but an “art”. Eons have been wasted trying to transform CPAs, Attorneys, Pharmacists, Doctors, etc into sales people. Yes, a CPA may be a great sales person, but one thing doesn’t have anything, necessarily, to do with the other.
Top consulting firms are often known for their sales development programs for professional staff. But how effective are these programs? One could argue that the effort only makes sense where the “raw material,” meaning a staff member, demonstrates an innate sales ability that warrants the effort. Therefore, the real work for these top consulting firms is to identify talented professionals who have that “sales edge” within their recruitment efforts.
The difficulty of transforming licensed professionals into sales personnel is exacerbated by the natural tendency of some licensed professionals to eschew sales as something demeaning and, potentially, manipulative of others. The thought here is that professional ethics require an approach to interacting with one’s peers and colleagues that does not include selling them anything, or, if a sale must be made, that colleagues be insulated from the reality that they have been purposefully used to make the sale. Once an individual becomes a believer in these professional ethics, it will be next to impossible to get meaningful results from his/her selling efforts.
Better to find real sales people and include them within the sales team. A perfect role for real sales people within enterprise sales is management of the customer relationship. The actual project work can be lead by a licensed industry professional, but someone with real sales acumen must manage the customer through the interaction. Consulting firms that understand this requirement and staff their project teams accordingly are more likely to succeed. In fact, (regardless of specific project objectives and methods) the task of persuading an enterprise customer to purchase one’s products or services and managing the enterprise customer (and the project team) through successful completion of the project is consistent and uniform once the peculiar realities of complex, enterprises sales have been digested and addressed by the sales plan. Training time will be better spent inculcating a sensitivity for complex, enterprise sales realities within the customer relationship managers of the project team.
© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2011 All Rights Reserved