I am not a salesman, I’ve convinced myself.
I don’t enjoy the process and as a result I’m probably not very good at it. From time to time however I do get involved in the sales process which, over the course of the last week, took the form of writing a tender response.
The outcome was a well-crafted team effort, but the document inevitably took longer to compile than anticipated and on submission the realisation set in that the result might be nothing more than ‘thanks but no thanks’. The sales effort always runs the risk of being in vain, but I don’t believe it should be deemed a waste of time if it is unsuccessful.
Whether or not we win the work we were tendering for, I was reminded that the process of writing about our organisation’s capabilities has value in itself. Our team had robust and challenging discussions about our value proposition, what we do well and the space we want to occupy as a niche consulting firm. We also had discussions about learnings from past projects and streamlined some of our methodologies. In a sense, we were living our principle of continuous improvement.
I took a number of take-outs from the experience that I felt are worthy of sharing.
The first one is that we are all ‘sales people’ in some respect. It is an outdated approach to leave the selling up to the salesforce because you ‘don’t do sales’. It is a worthwhile exercise to try to articulate in 60 seconds what your organisation’s value proposition is, or at the very least summarise one of your organisation’s offerings that you are passionate about.
Reflecting upon this, I knew what it was that I despised about the sales process: The fear of rejection – something that no one is immune to. I believe that this fear is diluted if you enjoy what you do, are equipped with the appropriate knowledge to be successful, approach what you do and how you do it with integrity, and don’t take yourself or the fear of failure too seriously. Even if you aren’t a ‘salesperson’.
Lastly I was also reminded that, if you are going to invest any effort into a sales activity, do it well. In fact do it like your job depends on it.
The exercise can be extremely valuable because it can unlock hidden potential or value in your team or organisation, or at the very least remind you to tighten up your rusty elevator pitch. You never know when you might use that content again or whether the process might shape the future direction of your organisation. And of course, you significantly increase your odds of winning the work by doing a damn good job of everything you deliver.
At the very least your reputation for delivering quality work is never compromised.