Better Selling for a Better World

It has been I while since I was so excited about an academic initiative (if such a thing is possible…). Last Tuesday I participated in an amazing meeting (on Zoom, as things go these days) with academics from the BMBW (Better Marketing for a Better World) initiative. The goal of this AMA (American Marketing Association) is to put forward research ideas on how the since of Marketing can contribute to a better (more socially and environmentally responsible) world. For many Marketing has long been associated with excessive consumption, misguiding consumers an all kind of irresponsible practices. With this initiative we want to highlight that Marketing can also be a tool for doing good, to the society and the planet.

Within the broader BMBW initiative, last Tuesday was the starting point of the BSBW part, as Better Selling for a Better World. If Marketing has had a repetitional problem in the past, what can I say about Sales… even the academics at the conference could not shake off the old ideas of sleazy, cheating salespeople and the “evil” they did to the consumers and through them to the society and the planet. As a former salesperson and as an academic devoted to the study of sales and sales management. I know that those stereotypes are far from the reality, the majority of the salespeople care a lot about their customers, and many worry also about the effect they have on the environment and the people. That’s why I am so excited about this initiative, which has tech potential to finally help shake off the bad image of sales and salespeople in the world.

We are the first stages of defining research topics for this initiative, and these days I have been thinking about the issues at the intersection of two ideas: Sales and Sustainability (S&S).

The first issue that comes to mind, is the sustainability of the sales effort. How companies can make sure that:

  • Salespeople find a balance between the demands of their job and their wellbeing. On this topic, there has been an excellent paper by Habel, Alavi and Linsemayer on the effects of variable compensation on salespeople health (link here).
  • The sales effort is sustainable for the company, that they do not “burn” the resources they use and that the achieve the expected results.

The second one is the impact of sales practices on how sustainable companies are, specially how to “sell” sustainable solutions, and how the sales function can help customers choose or co-create more sustainable options.

So I am looking forward to explore this issues and to bring some insights on them to the sales community, through research and not-too-boring classes.