Blog from the witnix consulting practice

Why sales doesn’t have to be uncomfortable

· by Jill Dixon · Read in about 6 min · (1134 Words)

| witnix | sales | development |

How does the word “sales” make you feel? Dirty, sleazy, pensive, on edge, uneasy? Does it make your heart race just a little bit faster and make you shift about in your chair a bit? You’re not alone. It’s typical for humans to react to being “sold to”. We all fear the unknown, and anybody who positions themselves to tell us that the unknown is actually going to be good for us, well that just makes us trust them even less.

It’s in our nature. It’s totally natural to fear, and to not trust the unknown.

Team witnix have been involved as card carrying members of the purchase and sales brigade for over quarter of a century. We’ve seen our fair share of the unknown, especially dealing with advanced often untested technology and processes. We’ve been on both sides of the fence when it comes to sales. We’ve also had our own moments of extreme discomfort and indigestion with the sales process. It’s only natural, we’re also human. In spite of the staggering complexity of the projects we have taken on in the past, team witnix actually love the art of the deal. We enjoy the discovery, the matching of technology to the use case, the close, all of it. We love the entire sales process and we want to share why it doesn’t have to suck with everyone.

So, given all that, why is it that everyone always loves to hate the sales process but even more so, hate the entire sales profession?

To us, it’s simple. As “Granny” used to tell us, it only takes a single bad apple to spoil a whole barrel. We’ve all physically felt that sinking feeling of disgust after interacting with that one salesperson who was only ever in the room to make their monthly commission check. We’ve experienced that smooth-talking, fast-moving, nothing-to-see-here “deal maker” who we were 100% sure was simply out to trick us as quickly as possible into their sale.

We don’t like that feeling. Unfortunately, these badges of dishonor aren’t only reserved for sales, we feel this way about many other professions - consultants, attorneys, politicians, etc. Alas, out of them all, sales in particular gets a particularly bad rap and is so often seen as simply a “run and gun”, “dialing for dollars”, “throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall and seeing what sticks”, “slamming square pegs into round holes” profession.

In these vain attempts to “make the numbers,” all of this nonsense does the exact opposite of building critical long term sustainable business relationships. Bad actors in sales will quickly drive a permanent wedge between you and your clients, creating a terrible “us vs them” mentality that is unhealthy, and ultimately terminal for any business.

One bad experience, and we simply write off an entire profession.

There must be a better way.

The sales process simply can’t be focused only on the bottom line and the close, it has to be focused on the journey. How can we possibly turn this all around and help to redefine what “good sales” would actually mean and look like?

First, let’s ask ourselves some very hard questions and the reasons why we need to ask them:

What if “sales” wasn’t a dirty word in your organization?

Because it can’t be.

What if “sales” really means “relationship?”

Because it actually does.

What if “sales” means “integrity?”

Because it always has to or you fail.

What if “sales” means “finding the common ground for mutual benefit?”

Because, that is a key ingredient in the recipe for success.

Do all these questions and comments sound all a bit utopian? Nope. These questions and statements happen every single day inside high quality organizations who need to accurately and successfully build and promote their technology. These questions form one of the core pillars of how team witnix originally decided to join forces to help our customers. We each sat on opposite sides of the “sales aisle” for a number of years and also had numerous things go off the rails and, sometimes quite literally, go up in smoke!

However, because of the relationships we had built between each other and more importantly between our teams, coupled with understanding that each of us needed to be successful, we ended up actually being successful together. We quickly realized that we desperately needed each other.

We simply couldn’t do it alone.

Many entrepreneurs, big businesses, nonprofits and even schools have come to us with this exact same challenge: “How do we get our teams to really drive our business and mission forward without using the ‘sales’ word…. because nobody really wants to be in ‘sales’ do they?’”

Our answer is always the same “Oh, that’s good to know - because we almost made a 20+ year career out of that.” And then we all laugh. Why? Because the people who initially asked us for consulting help sort of remember that we were in “sales” but they also so quickly forgot. They forgot that the informatics, business and technology practices here at witnix were also constantly “selling”. We bought and sold, and presented advanced technology to provide centralized services to decentralized organizations who initially didn’t know they needed them to reduce their costs, achieve scale and grow. We had concurrent multiple million dollar sales pipelines on the go all the time. So why is it that everyone has simply forgotten all of that?

Here’s our secret. Our secret was never to actually sell anything. The facts were told as they were… good or bad…, we informed, we consulted, sometimes we hustled a little bit to get things done. We presented pretty pictures, facts, charts and graphs showing how what we had to offer was the best thing since sliced bread and that our customers needed some of that magic in their world. That was the pitch. However, what we actually did was deliver on our promises, and most importantly over all that time we built the most important thing, relationships.

Relationships that for decades endured many a project going south, (because projects do fail) many a product behaving badly (because they have, and always will), and many a teammate causing verbal or physical damage (because, as we began this conversation earlier - we’re all human, we’re fallible). Sometimes we fail, but it’s how we recover and accelerate past the failure that really defines us. The relationship is how you grow.

So that’s our pitch for today. It’s through strong, solid and lasting relationships that we have found ways to make everyone involved successful. Sales can no longer be a “smash and grab.” Sales requires persistence, tenacity and care. With high quality, deep and meaningful relationships, we all win.

Sales is a relationship, and it is the relationship that really makes sales happen.