The Profession of Sales

I'm love being a salesguy!. I love what we do in our consulting practice working with companies in the rapidly changing environments of Sales and Marketing, plus the fact that I can explore those practices even more intently by teaching both subjects at the Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts provides a perfect flywheel of experiences with highly  positive results.  Personally, I can take out of the classroom and labs new ideas and bring them into our customers while many of our customers take advantage of three-month deep dives in perfecting their planning with my student teams of juniors, seniors and grad students. 

Having said all of that on a wonderfully bright Friday morning, it continues to surprise me how many companies do not think of the function and the profession of Sales at the same level of other functions in their companies.  I recently stated working with a large financial services company by interviewing the various senior managers, and when I asked " tell me about your sales organization, and its challenges", the responses related to their salespeople at all levels were cloaked in words of:

  • development officers
  • commercial officers 
  • relationship managers

Sales PitchAfter 10 or so lengthy interviews, I finally asked why the company vocabulary wasn't simply about sales, salespeople, and sales processes to which the answers were "we don't want to be regarded as salespeople", and we don't like "sales pitches", the result of which they equated salespeople as being JoeyBagaDonuts. 

You know that guy, and like me at the beginning of my sales career 30 years ago, I was that guy.  I picked up boxes of donuts at Dunkin and made what I thought were sales calls driving around to various hospitals, leaving donuts for the nurses.  The advantage was that I did get to learn everything about my competitors' medtech equipment and when new equipment was coming up for bid.  The disadvantage, of course, is that I did not know how to quickly get to the people in the corner offices who were making the decisions.  This is the reason today in our work with our customers that we focus on creating processes that the first approach to a new prospect after qualifying the potential is only to the C level people..

Today, I look at the complex world of selling and where I want salespeople to be focused along the steps in the ladder as being at the top rung and being seen...and "trusted strategic advisors".  Holding that image of a ladder in your head for a second, think of the climb to the top moving up from the bottom as:

  • Car Salesperson.  Sorry, I just had to say it in an industry that still exudes distrust
  • Vendor
  • Approved Supplier
  • Primary Supplier
  • Strategic Advisor 

The Strategic Advisor is the person who gets called in to meet with the senior management and often sits at the table in repeated meetings discussing future solutions for new products and services.  This is the absolute example of what it takes to become a professional salesperson, and more and more of what I see today, especially in younger salespeople with 5 to 10 years of experience, is the ability, the intellect, the style and the use of technology in being able to integrate themselves and their companies into that environment.  I see it in hundreds of may own alums who are now middle and senior managers in the profession of sales.  I see it in numerous specific industry leading companies where they use simple and meaningful words such as "salespeople", "account executives" , "account managers" and "chief revenue officers".

All about the pride of being in "The Profession of Sales"!


Tufts H Bar C 2024At Tufts, the semester is winding down, and I've seen five of the 12 three-hour company presentations that are being made to their company executives-typically the CEO and head of sales.  After three months of intense and complex work, the student teams of five or six juniors, seniors and grad students delivers their final results with the understanding that 40% of their grade is determined by the company managers and not by me and my TAs.   

The companies have ranged from IT security, to private equity, to dog accessories to high tech procurement to western wear to medtech capital equipment and six other distinct markets since I want the diversity in learning experiences in the classroom.  Some are established, revenue producing startups while others are multi-million dollar enterprises including one 100 year old successful company in H Bar C brought to us by one of my alums and his father.  In fact four of the 12 companies this semester are represented by my alums. 

If your interested in working with us in a Marketing plan for the fall semester, let me know, and I will send you instructions.  Decisions and the syllabus go out to the students on June 15th with requirements to do some work over the summer.  

Writing the Winning Sales Plan in 2024 

For a few ideas on Sales and improving the productivity of your own team, you can click here for this brand new  "Writing the Winning Sales Plan in 2024", for a few ideas on structure, sales models, process funnels and a number of productivity tools and how to recruit and hire the best.  

BTW, I always have tens of the best associate-level juniors and seniors available for a Sales or Marketing internship this summer or a full-time job in June.  Give me a call to discuss at 617-504-4222 or  
Derby Entrepreneurship Center@Tufts.

Tags: Sales Best Practices, Sales Management Best Practices, Sales Hiring Perfectly, Derby Entrepreneurship Center at Tufts, 2024 Sales Planning, 2024 Marketing Planning