Selling, Sales and Persuasion

I live in a complicated work… when people know that I teach “Sales” (please bear with the quote marks, you’ll see why) often they think that I can teach them how to sell, or that I can teach them how to organize a sales department or that I can help them defining a go-to-market strategy… and I can do all of them, and you see how within the term “sales” (understand the quotes yet?) so this post is a clarification of the different aspects I see in “sales” (last time there are quotes, I promise):

  • Sales as a strategy: this is the Go-to-market strategy part… people would ask me, how can I sell this XXX (fill in here any product or service)? I see this question more as a Marketing, and eventually Go-To-Market question than a sales one, as in the answer I would have to use marketing concepts, such as segments that are targeted, the positioning of the brand… good resources for answers to this questions are: “Transforming your Go-To-Market Strategy” by V. Kasturi Rangan and “What is Marketing” by Thomas Bonoma.
  • Sales as a function / department: people would ask me, how do I set-up a sales department, organize my team, hire people… to sell XXX. This is the kind of questions we answer in the sales courses I teach at ESADE and in other business schools. Once the marketing questions have been answered, and the Go-To-Market strategy is clear, we have the foundations on which to build a sales strategy (as in how to build the sales function) and a sales organization. The best resource, in my humble opinion, to find answers to this question is the very complete “The complete guide to accelerating sales force performance” by Zoltners and Sinha.
  • Sales as persuasion: finally, people also ask me, how do I convince someone to buy XXX from me? To answer this questions I have to use concepts of persuasion and “sales techniques”. I usually dislike “sales technique” books, as I usually find them shallow and not evidence based… I would recommend “To sell is Human” by Dan Pink, and “Influence” by Robert Cialdini.

This was just an “off-the-top-of-my-head” post, more on this soon, as is the topic on which I make a living.