Is Your Company a Sales Organization?

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If you will allow me to indulge, I want to take a step away from the uber-tight focus on risk management for a minute. I was on a tele-conference today. During the conversation I shared that my dream is for my company to evolve into a “sales organization” that does engineering services rather than an “engineering organization” that does sales.

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On the other end of the call, Paul asked me what I meant. I’ve been thinking about the topic ever since and I’d like to share my thoughts with you. The distinction isn’t limited to only engineering services companies. It applies to every type of business out there.

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So what is the difference between a “sales organization” that does engineering and an “engineering organization” that does sales? The biggest difference is attitude. Think about it for a minute. We have 150 software engineers that work on projects for our customers. Most of them have some type of customer interaction every day. Currently, that interaction is engineer to engineer, because we are an engineering company.

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But what if our software engineers considered themselves technical sales people? Now we would have 150 sales people interacting with the customers every day. The interaction would be between sales and engineering, because we would be a sales organization that does engineering.

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“But how would that interaction be different?”, you might ask. Good question – thanks for asking! The difference would be in the conversations. An engineer is going to ask engineering questions, leading to a very technical, detailed and specific exchange of information. The conversation will be objective, logical and unemotional. Engineers have implied limits on the expression of “warm and fuzzy” so there will be no enthusiasm (other than geeky excitement over a novel technical approach), no empathy or caring conveyed. The relationship will be one dimensional. (Disclaimer: I’m a degreed engineer who’s come over to the dark side of management.)

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A sales person doing the same call (same agenda, objective, etc.) is also going to ask engineering questions, but they will ask more. They will ask about customer satisfaction, upcoming potential projects, personal impressions of our company and of our competitors. The conversation will be more qualitative, subjective and emotional. There will be no implied limits preventing our employee from expressing enthusiasm, empathy or caring. The relationship will be multi-dimensional and (more importantly) personal.

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Do you own a manufacturing business? Do your production people ever interact with customers? Do you own a retail business? Is there anybody in your company who doesn’t interact with customers at least a few times? What about restaurants? Get my point? Every employee of every business will probably interact with customers at some point. How do you want that interaction to play out? What type of attitude do you want your employee to exhibit?

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Customers buy products and services because of emotions and relationships. Sure there is some logic and quantitative analysis involved, but the primary driver is emotion. So given that fact, what you would rather be running: a sales organization that is comfortable in the realm of subjectivity, emotion and relationship building; or an engineering organization that is limited to the objective and quantifiable?

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My dream is to work for a sales organization that does engineering (or retail, or manufacturing, or professional services). I want every person in the organization to believe in our product and speak with passion about it. I want every person to feel like a salesperson.

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Do you work for a sales organization that produces product/services or do you work for a product/services company that does sales?

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6 thoughts on “Is Your Company a Sales Organization?

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