Which business function do we value most? HR perhaps? Or finance? Production or IT?
For me it is sales. The sales department is the most important. No sales, no business.
But why is “sales” a dirty word in the UK (although not nearly so much in the US)?
May I suggest that one reason is the belief that selling is about tricking people. It’s a common belief amongst sales and non-sales people alike. It has led to some pretty sharp practices too.
When we are uncomfortable about selling, we tend to resort to the common human habit of hiding things and separating ourselves mentally, or physically even, from that which we dislike.
It’s another variant of fall guy syndrome. In this version we are asking someone else to do something we are uncomfortable doing ourselves. We even down-grade or undervalue their work and pay it less (e.g. call centres). We try and ring fence problems of the business to be within the sales department.
Of course when the sales director is replaced the problems refuse to go away. That’s because most often they are our problems and of our making.
We need to tackle head-on, the ethical problems we face in selling and make sure we do it right. As a whole company. And there lies the dilemma. For example in many organisations the “sales process” involves a team of people, some of whom are never included in the sales briefings.
Who is the most important person in the sales process? My money is on the receptionist!