A lot of businesses think that they can grow their business without “sales people”. In all fairness, by some people’s definition, they don’t need sales people, because they find sales people “slimy” or superfluous. However, what I’ve come to discover through the years is that all businesses need sales people, it’s just that many are not willing to call them sales people.
It is particularly vivid in consumer products where there is a person for every retail store in the world who has a responsibility called “buyer”. Everyone that buyer talks to that is not inside their organization is likely titled “seller”. Where sellers and buyers meet is called a marketplace which is what creates commerce. That said, here are the roles a seller in the wholesale business must play, whether the people in the roles are called sales people or not.
Identify and make contact with buyers. Yes, this seems obvious, but, when you stand at a trade show for 3 days and you see nothing but buyers, it’s easy to forget that the marketing vehicle called the trade show actually worked aggregating buyers with some of them coming to your booth and needing to speak to a “sales person”.
Presenting products in a frame in which the buyer needs to hear it. You’d be shocked at how many unsuccessful sales people are only good presenters. Presentation is important, but, only if it actually creates a spark in the buyer to want to move forward, which always boils down to “what’s in it for me” and telling that story in a way that is meaningful to the buyer.
Progress the relationship. From the superficial initial contact to creating a working relationship between two companies is not like shopping at Amazon and clicking a product. It takes a lot of back and forth so the two companies can become engaged.
Closing. We’ve certainly seen some of the less impressive tactics used to sell a car. At its best, the process is be about gaining mutual commitments, proving follow through and mutually impressing each other with discipline and diligence.
Ongoing Relationship Management. Every relationship needs to be nurtured and tended over time. Problems arise. Opportunities come forward. Challenges appear. All of this needs to be addressed in a timely manner to foster the long term health of the business together.
Whether you play these roles yourself, as a solo-preneur, put these roles on different people at different times, hire inside or outside people to do it, all of these efforts MUST be addressed to continually bring new opportunity to your business. Not every person in sales is good at all 5 roles. Most are not (most solo-preneurs are not either) which is why teams and support are there to enhance the parts that need it. Any business that overlooks any of these roles. is simply breaking the definition of the marketplace – where sellers and buyers meet. Being good at selling is knowing which role you’re playing at any given time. Skip or ignore any of the roles at your own peril.