Dispelling Sales Roles Myths
Sales teams provide a vital role in the success of any business, they feed the top line. They effectively bridge the link between understanding the customer needs and the products and services a business offers to fulfil these needs. Their core role consists of converting sales leads, growing the business and retaining existing customers. At Red Tiger we often receive job positions which have sales in the title and for some people they are immediately put off by this as they think that sales don’t come natural to them.
For me the first thing that springs to mind when I hear the word “sales” is the stereotypical view of the dreaded car salesperson or estate agent going in for the hard sell. I envisage them having weekly, monthly and annual targets to hit and the pressure to hit these targets as each deadline approaches. On The Apprentice Lord Sugar frequents sales, sales, sales and you see some candidates clearly clamming up as they believe they are so far out of their comfort zone when it comes to securing that vital handshake in front of the camera (plus Claude & Karen).
With the above connotations it is no wonder that sales roles are not seen in the best light but what we often don’t realise is that we are all sales people in some shape or form and sales roles are incredibly varied – it doesn’t mean you are on the front line trying to find the next deal. We all do sales roles in our day to day lives – personally and professionally.
On a personal level this may be selling your house to a prospective buyer or trying to convince a loved one that your choice of holiday destination is better than theirs. Professionally we try to sell ourselves, our skills and experience in interviews, in mid-year and annual appraisals. For major projects you are selling an idea, concept or proposition and justifying costs, time and resources to make that project happen. For locations planners you are helping to formulate (& sell) an investment case, often for a significant amount of capital and definitely more capex than a vehicle on a car forecourt.
Types of sales roles
This is often the one that fills some people with dread. I appreciate you have to have a certain personality and be able to accept multiple setbacks (& rejection) to excel in this role. This role is ideal for those who love the thrill of a chase. Those that thrive in sales development ask the right qualification questions and is able to bring in relevant experts.
On the softer side of sales development is Pre-Sales which is often a support role to that of the actual sales person. You bring the insight, knowledge & technical expertise to proceedings, showcasing your experience on how a product or service can help your client achieve its objectives.
These roles are all about managing the relationship with new and existing clients, you earn their confidence and trust. The initial purchase has been completed by the sales team and therefore you typically manage a portfolio of clients which may over time evolve but on the whole is relatively stable. The best account managers are not arranging sales meetings but carefully orchestrating informal catchups with key people to glean insight into the next business problem, or leveraging the trusted advisor relationship to be introduced into other parts of the business.
This is a great role for building long term relations and helping to shape a customer’s strategy and how best they can use your product and services. It is a constant learning curve for both sides of the party as new data, technology and a changing consumer & competitive landscape present new challenges and opportunities. There will inevitably be some up and cross-selling but as you have built a long-term relationship with a client this is naturally conducive and feels less pressured than if you are trying to secure new business. Typically, you maybe measured on some form of revenue target however there is a much rounded focus on softer measures including retention and satisfaction.
Head / Director of Sales
Leadership position with a team of account managers, this role requires you to contribute to the overall growth and strategy of the business. Requires excellent business acumen as you develop your team. Budgeting, people management, recruiting top talent and business development are all core competencies. This is much more of a strategic role identifying gaps in the market and key growth markets. Feeding back to the technical teams the direction in which the organisation should be taking products and services to enhance the customer proposition ensuring you secure and retain business ahead of the competition.
At Red Tiger Talent we have multiple pre-sales, account manager and leadership positions. If you are already in these positions or simply fancy becoming more rounded please reach out to us – you might be surprised how many boxes you already tick when it comes to “sales” and how diverse these roles actually are.
Author Neil Andrews, Associate, Red Tiger Consulting
Image Credits Picjumbo