Small Businesses: ‘Nothing happens until something is sold’

My mom used to hate the idea of salesmen and the “tricks” they used to sell things to people - things they did not necessarily want or need. To be fair, she met a lot of bad salespeople in her day, so she was right to dislike them in some respects.

It is, after all, unethical to sell someone something that they do not need. The converse of that is that it’s equally unethical to not sell someone something that they do need. (Funny, we never talked about that one! Mom still wonders how I can make a living, in part, by training sales professionals!)

Our economy is built on the premise that something is sold or manufactured. Then, at some point, something is purchased.

There is virtually nothing physical that you can point to that did not involve at least one (and likely many more) sales professionals. Pick any product. Let’s start with the chair you’re sitting in. I’m sitting in a desk chair right now, and my chair started as a concept. Depending on the company, they may have done everything in-house, or they may have hired a conceptual design/engineering team to do an initial prototype/design/feasibility study. A sale happened here.

Materials would’ve been purchased to do the mock-up, plus any outsourced services if needed. Another sale or two. This company would’ve, in turn, provided the prototype along with what would be needed to produce the product as well as the manufacturing layout.

Once production was started, raw and manufactured materials would need to be sourced for the frame (sale), the legs/base (sale), the cabling (sale), the handle(s) (sale), the wheels (sale) the hydraulics (sale), hydraulic fluid (sale), the fabric for the seat (sale), the screws/bolts/nuts (sale), any adhesives needed (sale). 

I’m sure I’m missing several items here, but the point is, if you really take the time to break it down, there is a tremendous number of sales that occur prior to the sale that happened when I eventually bought the office chair. 

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve heard it said that if you want to re-start the economy, go buy something. While this is true, if you really want to get things restarted, go sell something as well (if you are in sales), and do it profitably. This is the major challenge out there in the business world. Weak sales professionals (common) often default to tactics that commoditize and lower price to regain or grow their positions. On the other hand, strong sales professionals (rare) will go deep with prospective and actual clients to uncover and align value and price accordingly.  

Which sales professional do you have working in your company right now? Do you have the one who is going to take the easy way out or the one who will fight to understand the gaps, uncover value, and find the compelling reasons to do business and align products accordingly to make the profitable sale? 

Need help figuring this all out? Reach out to us at the Sandler Performance Centers of Northern Indiana. We know a thing or two about this sales game.

Read more articles by Jim Wilcox.

Jim Wilcox is Founder of the Sandler Performance Centers of Northern Indiana in Fort Wayne and South Bend. He is one of Input Fort Wayne's small business bloggers, sharing his experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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