What is sales?

Hello there my name is Martin Henley, this is the WTF series  and in this episode number four I’m answering the question what is sales.

In addressing the question what is sales there are seven things I’d like to be sharing with you. Firstly I’m going to give you a definition of sales;  then I’m going to give you another sales definition; before I give you my sales definition; we’re going to think about why salespeople have such a bad reputation; before we talk about the difference between sales and marketing; how you do sales and how you get leads.

Let’s get this started Ricky.

Did we find a sales definition?

The question is what is sales and we didn’t have to go far this time for a definition, we went to businessdictionary.com who tell us that “sales is the exchange of a commodity for money, the action of selling something.” Of course in the context of your business this means you selling your products or your services. 

The thing about sales is that every business needs sales. If you are going to pay staff, if you’re going to pay rent, if you’re going to pay bills, if you’re going to turn a profit, if you’re going to go on fantastic holidays it is sales that you need.

Whats the best sales definition you ever heard?

We’ve had a great definition of sales but I want to share with you one more sales definition from my friend Mike Clark. Mike Clark is a sales trainer, he’s a LinkedIn marketer, he’s a really good guy and what he tells people is that the word sales is derived from the Norse “Selje” – to serve. The reason I’m sharing this with you, and I have to tell you I’ve never been able to confirm that this is true, so if you are a Norse speaker you can let me know. Anyway, the reason I’m sharing this with you is because I think this is a great idea. We are going to talk about why salespeople have such a bad reputation and I think if more salespeople saw themselves as serving or helping people then they would be much more effective and much more successful salespeople. Thanks Mike Clark, if indeed the word sales is derived from the Norse to serve.

How do you define sales?

Which brings us then to my definition of sales and for me sales is really about three things. It’s about making friends, it’s about motivating people to do something ever so slightly different and it’s about making it easy for people to buy. I feel that if people are having issues in their business or their life and they’re looking for solutions and you are prepared to serve those people, to help them to understand really what the issues are and what the best solutions are the very least you can do is be making friends with those people. In terms of motivating them to do something ever so slightly different they may be about to buy from somebody else you just need to motivate them to buy from. If you are motivating people to overcome their problems I think that’s a hugely positive thing.

The third thing for me is about making it easy for people to buy and its still amazing to me since I’ve been running my business how difficult it is to buy things. You can tell people how much you want to spend, what it is you need and when you want to take delivery and then you may never hear from those people ever again. If you are the kind of salesperson who makes it easy for people to buy stuff again, I think you will be a much more effective and a much more successful salesperson than most of the salespeople out there.

“I was gonna try to sell you some handsome cream but I can see you already bought out the store” Family Guy.

If what I am telling you is true and sales is really just about serving people, and making friends, and motivating them, and making it easy for them to buy then why is it that salespeople have such a bad reputation? It’s certainly true that salespeople have a bad reputation. Where I come from in the UK people really don’t like salespeople and if you ask them to compare them to animals then they will compare them to bores, or Bulls, or snakes, or sharks because they perceive salespeople to be pushy and slimy and aggressive and only interested in their money.

Why do salespeople have such a terrible reputation?

So why is that salespeople have this bad reputation?

I think there are two reasons. The first reason might be that everyone who goes into sales is a complete a***hole. Now I don’t want to believe that because I’ve been working in sales for the best part of 25 years. The second reason is probably more interesting and probably more useful and the reason I think that salespeople are pushy, and slimy, and aggressive is because they are desperate. Because they don’t have enough opportunity to sell because they don’t have the quality and the quantity of leads that they need. The leads that might make them relaxed so they can think about helping people, they can think about making friends, they can think about motivating their prospects and they can just think about making it easy for those people to buy.

So the answer, if that’s the case, for us as marketing people is to focus on making sure that our salespeople have the quality of leads they need so they can serve, make friends, motivate and just make it easy for people to buy.

What is the difference between sales and marketing?

Which brings us then to point number five which is the question what is the difference between sales and marketing?

There are two major differences between sales and marketing: the first is focus and the second is chronology. 

The focus for marketers is to speak to lots and lots of people. Marketers broadcast messages through social media, through email marketing, or through advertising. What we want to do is get a message to lots and lots of people to give them an opportunity to express an interest in what it is that we are providing.

The focus for salespeople, once prospects have expressed an interest, is to speak one-to-one with those people to try and grow that lead into an opportunity that could become a sale.

So the focus for marketers is speaking to lots of people and the focus for salespeople is speaking to one person at a time or maybe small groups of people at a time.

The second big difference is chronology. For me marketing has to happen before sales, because if you don’t do marketing, you won’t have leads and you won’t have work for your salespeople. 

I like to think of it like fishing where marketing is the bait and the salesman is the fishermen. Marketing attracts the fish to the boat and it’s the salesperson’s job to get the fish on the line and then reel them in – that is a great analogy.

This is interesting to me because very often people have said to me in my business “Martin, we’re either going to engage you to generate us some leads or we are going to employ a salesperson.” That isn’t the right logic – the right logic is if you have too many leads in your business you need a salesperson, if you don’t have enough leads in your business then you need marketing. You need someone who can talk to many people to bring them to your boat so your salesperson can get them on the hook and reel them in.

How do you do sales?

So now you must be thinking well “how the fuck do I do sales.” Doing sales is very simple if you’re the right person, if you’re the right personality, then it’s really easy just to make friends with people, motivate them and make it easy for them to buy. A salespersons job is to really understand what it is they’re looking for and supply that thing for them.

There are four aspects to spelling effectively.

The first thing you need is a lead – if you are a salesperson and you don’t have leads, you don’t have work and you need to be looking for another job.

Once you have a lead it’s about opening up that opportunity, it’s about qualifying that opportunity – are you actually going to be able to serve them, and then it’s about closing. We will come back to sales at the very end of this process because sales chronologically comes after all of the marketing and in that instance we will go further through the ideas of opening, qualifying and closing.

How do get sales leads?

Hopefully you are hearing me, and you’re getting really excited, and you’re thinking yes Martin “I’m ready to serve, I’m ready to make friends, I’m ready to motivate people and I’m ready to make it easy for people to buy – but I don’t have the leads.” 

The question now becomes how do you get leads? Leads typically come from canvassing, they come from advertising and of course that is marketing. So, if you’re going to invest your time, your energy and your money in generating leads you are going to need a marketing plan or a marketing strategy. The good news for you is that is the subject of video number five what is marketing strategy?

If you are still with us, well done. You have had one, two, three definitions to answer the question what is sales? You know now why salespeople have such a bad reputation, you know the difference between sales and marketing, you have a sense of how to do sales and you know that you’re going to need a marketing strategy.

Did we answer the question – What is sales?

If you have found this interesting or useful why not take a second to like, share subscribe, maybe comment, maybe there’s a piece of marketing jargon that you would like to see defined in this fashion. If you have found it really useful then why not head across to the Effective Marketing Company blog and subscribe there and you will get this marketing jargon, bullshit busting goodness in your inbox every single day.

We are done here Ricky. 

Martin Henley

Martin Henley

Martin has built a reputation for having a no nonsense approach to sales and marketing and for motivating audiences with his wit, energy, enthusiasm and his own brand of audience participation.

Martin’s original content is based on his very current experience of running effective marketing initiatives for his customers and the feedback from Effective Marketing’s successful and popular marketing workshops.



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