By: John Harrison
Role: Sales Manager
The Early Days:
As I started my career as a Sales Engineer, I was always sheepish about telling people that I was in sales. When I met people, I would say that I worked with Lasers, or that I was in manufacturing. I changed my business card from Sales Engineer to Business Development Manager. When developing a Mission statement at one company, we were careful to avoid the word “sales”, instead replacing it with consultants, solutions partners, and other clever acronyms.
Selling is an integral part of capitalism. Salesmen are the vehicle that takes great ideas and products, and utilizes them to solve a problem. But at some point in everyone’s lifetime, we’ve run into situations where our magic chamois didn’t absorb the 10 gallons of water it said it would. Perhaps our Mega-SUV that was supposed to get 30 mpg. got 28mpg instead. However, if you as the salesmen did a great job in identifying the problem, and you provided the best solution the customer may have other reasons behind their dissatisfaction.
As I look back shortly after receiving my college degree, I recall talk with other engineers about their plans for the future. Professions such as Nuclear engineer for a public utility, Aerospace Engineer for Boeing, or Automotive Engineer for the big three were the most coveted positions. Talk of being a sales engineer was always an afterthought, and was reserved for those who couldn’t land a “real” engineering job.
In fact, it was my senior project which was a design competition to build a model airplane when I discovered I wanted to become a salesman. Each plane had parameters, and we competed against other schools to see who could fly with the heaviest cargo. I skipped my graduation ceremony (sorry Mom and Dad) to travel to Wright Patterson Airbase to compete against 150 other teams. After 2 days of presentations, and 500+ flights, I was mentally fried. I asked one of the other teams if they wanted to grab a bite to eat and a beer. They countered by inviting us to their hotel room to analyze the video they had recorded of the presentations and flights; all of them.
So I Ask You:
So, why is it that we can’t be proud of our profession? Why is Selling a four letter word? As sales professionals, we need to remain vigilant in operating with the utmost integrity, and provide our customers with a service worthy of our compensation. Every time we don’t, we besmirch the good name of every sales professional.
Any thoughts? Leave them below.