The Smartest Person in the Room

If you were to do a little research you would find something fascinating about people and positions within your organization.  You would find that the successful sales executive usually out-earns most positions that are not considered upper management.

Let me explain it in different way.  When I was a sales manager, I expected that my successful professionals should make more than I made, and the best did so handily.  General managers, vice-presidents, even some Sr. Vice Presidents and up are at a disadvantage when it comes to the total compensation package, but there are good reasons for it.

So why do so many people believe that all the brains in an organization are in the engineering departments, finance department, and general management?  Well, because so many people don’t know the rigors of professional selling and the strategies and intelligence needed to do it.

No Logarithms Needed

Think about the sheer brainpower needed to calculate the thrust to get out of earth orbit for a space vehicle with monstrous dimensions.  If you consider the brainpower necessary to design the new generation of space vehicles you would be correct in that it takes a ‘rocket’ scientist.  Now the big question:  Could they sell it?

Have you ever considered that those skills are literally worthless when they are used to try to convince a buyer that he or she should change widget manufacturers and do business with your organization?  You don’t need sophisticated mathematical formulae or extreme logarithms to make that happen, you need the ability to:

  • Create trusting and confident relationships
  • Apply sales techniques to influence buying decisions
  • Anticipate and answer the customer questions
  • Present effectively and with aplomb

Many people have trouble putting a value on these, but a sales manager and General manager know that this individual makes their job easier.  It is obvious that we all have our calling in life, and the role of a sales professional, as I have said before is to “convince someone to do something that they would ordinarily not do.”  Frankly, not everyone can do it.  It is an art, with some technical aspects behind it.

It’s Not For Everybody

Not everyone can play this role as it requires an individual who can:

  • Work with all types of people
  • Analyze and anticipate buyers needs and desires
  • Withstand rejection
  • Counter objections effectively

The best of these individuals are compensated highly for their skills and the uncertainty of the job to the degree that their annual income, which may include salary and bonus or otherwise are enviable.   Sure it is hard work, but so many know it is their ‘ticket out’ and have provided for their family in ways that draws jealousy from people in the other functions or departments.

I have seen sales compensation amounts in sales departments well over the $1M mark, and currently know a sales professional in financial services who 5 years ago, when the getting was good cleared over $1.2M.  Now, that is rarified air, and there are many who make more than those high numbers.  I am talking about b2b sales in these examples, and I am not talking about extreme or exotic products.

Machines Will Never Take Over

The occupation of professional sales is not unique, but it does stand out.  It might be one of those occupations that will not be taken over by computers or outsourcing.  The reason is simple, customer intimacy!  The sales professional does a lot of things, but the most importantly from the standpoint of the customer, they create the confidence that the customer needs to make the switch and stay put.

Even when we are talking about a commodity, the sales professional and the value that they bring can make the competitive difference (See Black Sales Journal 2/24-Selling a Commodity – The Difference is You).

The sale professional recognizes customer lifetime value (from the sales standpoint see Black Sales Journal 2/16 – All Customers Are not Created Equal) and seeks to extend the relationship as long as possible.

When the machines can create and nurture relationships we will be in trouble, but I don’t see that happening soon.

The Smartest Guy In the Room

So the smartest guy in the room might not be the engineer, the architect, the computer designer, or the aerospace scientist, it might be the person who operates closest to the person that pays the bills.  We know that as the customer.  We can’t do without them, and they need to be nurtured and fed.

This sales professional role is best done by someone who comes in with the skills that we probably take for granted.  We will call them advanced sales skills.

So the smartest guy in the room may well be the Ultimate Sales Professional (Black Sales Journal – The Ultimate Sales Professional I, II, and III).  Read this and let me know what you think.

We will ‘just ask him not to wear a cape to the sales presentations.  So when the meeting happens, who is the smartest guy in the room?

Your comments are welcome.

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