Why are we so afraid of calling Sales ‘Sales’ ?

Anneke’s Note: This post is by my colleague John Philpin, who asks really thought-provoking questions. Enjoy!

Have you ever thought about how caught up we get in titles and departments and naming things? For example, someone once described their role to me as follows …

“Actually I am in Sales. Specifically Inside Sales. Well really – when I say Inside Sales – I am a Senior Outbound Telesales Executive, with responsibility for the digital acquisition of Western Region Customers.”

Say What ?

I was reminded of this today when I heard a discussion around the need to rename inside sales. Apparently ‘we need to rename inside sales to remove the stigma and old thinking around that term.’ Terms raised included Virtual Sales, Digital Sales and  Social Sales.

How about just calling calling it ‘Sales’ ?

Here’s my take.

The differences between venerable institutions such as ‘sales’ and ‘marketing’ are hardly understood – much less “Virtual Sales, Digital Sales, Social Sales”.  The world is all about the customer – not how we organize.
How we do that (the orgs, the teams, the people, the hierarchy is meaningless to anybody outside a company – they don’t care – and nor should they.)

I firmly believe that
- introducing more new terms is self defeating
- forever subdividing internal orgs with meaningless terms is self defeating
- continuing made up separation of organizations is self defeating
- continuing to use terms that border on the ‘pejorative’ is self defeating
- focussing on the organization – not the customer – is self defeating

What do you believe ?

John Philpin is Chief Social Business Strategist with Reality Works Group: he makes Social Business work for customers, partners and your organization. He is also an entrepreneur (founder of 3 companies) and has held CEO and other C-level positions (in Sales, Business Development, Marketing and Customer Management – though he shuns those names!) in both start-ups and large companies including Citibank and Oracle. You can follow John’s thought-provoking thinking at: http://beyondbridges.net/  on Twitter @fractals or the old-fashioned way (on e-mail or phone): jphilpin@realityworksgroup.com, (808)344-2914.

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Thursday, December 20th, 2012 marketing, Sales, Sales 2.0, Uncategorized
  • John Philpin

    Needless to say – I think John makes a very valid point – and I agree with him completely :-()

    But in all seriousness – I would be very interested to hear from others.

  • http://www.beyondbridges.net/ John Philpin

    Needless to say – I am completely in agreement with John – and couldn’t have said tt better myself !!

    On a serious note – would love to hear what YOU think – let us know.

  • http://www.facebook.com/teri.gidwitz Teri Gidwitz

    Some organize to make it less direct to obfuscate what their goals are, perhaps mistakenly thinking that there prospects won’t call them back or return an email, let alone set aside time for a meeting. Rightly or wrongly, some people fear that “sales” is a dirty word…. so they find a euphemism that softens it.

  • http://twitter.com/TheDataDiva Wendy Cobrda

    Having been labeled “sales” as well as “consultant” — I prefer to think of myself as an advocate for the client rather than use either term. Sales does have a bad rap due to the number of industries that set unreasonable quotas and push people to close on deals to “make the numbers.” I always hated the top down process. We need to make X to pay the bills, therefore you need to find Y clients that each pay Z amount. Uggh!

    When I started my own boutique business, I chose the title of “emissary.” I was fortunate enough to have enough clients to keep myself fed and educated — and so it was easier to pass on opportunities that weren’t the right fit for my skills.

  • writerlisamason

    I don’t have a problem with the term sales and I do tend to side with John here. Yet at the same time, I am flexible so I go with what works for the client and/or customer. I think if you need to break it down so that you know what type of sales you are working with, that makes sense but calling it something else just to remove the stigma that is associated with “sales” as a term almost seems deceitful.

    For example, I work in marketing and there are different types of marketing that I can provide such as content marketing, social media marketing, press releases, advertorials or text-based ads. Marketing is still the catch-all term and when we start calling it other things, people get confused about what it is you even do.

    Ultimately, I think it can be summed up when John says, “The world is all about the customer – not how we organize.”

  • writerlisamason

    “I prefer to think of myself as an advocate for the client rather” <- Love this Wendy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thisisspain Steve Hall

    This is a pet hate of mine — advisor, consultant, specialist, business development support, manager, liaison, executive ….etc etc

    Not me …. I am a salesman. Period!

    I SELL things ,…… and have done successfully for 35 years. (Yes, I could be sarcastic and say that my customers BUY from me rather than I SELL to them but…)

    I am proud to be called a salesman.

  • clutterbells

    Fantastic John. Those kinds of titles are for confused people. How can they do their job if they don’t understand their job title. If they can’t understand it, how on earth can customers relate to them. I spent the second half of my professional career basically doing sales. My field was in professional services and although I was doing a technical role too, my basic philosophy was to engage and seek to understand what my customers wanted. Often they did not know, so there had to be a strong relationship when I was advising them on good strategies for their business.

  • http://www.stitchesndishes.com/ StitchesnDishes

    Ahhh I do miss the days when “Inside Sales” was just that, and I always knew who to call. I’ve worked with many organizations of varying sizes, and they all seem to have in common this singular goal to re-title positions or get rid of titles all together. While it may seem a great idea – lose the title and any stigma that goes along with it – no titles puts everyone in an organization on an even playing field. That’s not so bad, until you formally identify responsibilities. I’m working with a client right now who told me, “we don’t have titles around here… they’re too constraining. Everyone pitches in where needed.” OK, Mister CTO, then when I write the 80 policies and procedures you need to conform to a standard like ISO 9001, and everyone in the company needs to be trained on every one of the documents, maybe you’ll rethink that strategy of “everybody just pitches in.” Not that this situation relates completely to what you’re talking about, but it’s rooted in the same problem. My client realizes now – after everyone started receiving training notifications for the dozens of documents I’ve written – that maybe they don’t apply to everyone, and maybe it does make sense to give someone a title and a job description.

  • JeffMayernik

    I’m with Steve Hall on this one – “My name is Jeff and I am a salesman.” The first step is admitting that you have a problem, right? lol… My previous employer was constantly monkeying around with titles and seldom included the verboten word ‘Sales’; we were regional managers, territory managers….. all sorts of nonsense like that. I asked repeatedly to get cards that didn’t list any title at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/azmushko Alex Zmushka

    It is rather amuzing how in our today’s world of business many substitute the ground terms which drive any business. The essence of those terms will never change until we exchange goods and services to customers’ money. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/azmushko Alex Zmushka

    It is rather amusing how in our today’s world of business many substitute the ground terms which drive any business. The essence of those terms will never change until we exchange goods and services to customers’ money. :)