Salespeople rule okay?

Bern Henriksen, Gordon’s Bay

It’s a rarely acknowledged, but undeniable fact that salespeople pay everybody else’s wages – salespeople are the only people in any organisation that bring money in – everyone else takes it out.

If you have nobody to sell your product or service then you don’t have a business.

Yet salespeople, generally speaking, are seldom honoured, exalted or even appreciated by the very people who rely on them for a job.

They are expected to extol the virtues of their product or company even though they get very little support and encouragement, are often “looked down on by their colleagues” – the ones in “proper” jobs.

They are also expected to perform at high levels of production, and
seldom given the knowledge and training needed to make it in today’s competitive business environment.

Right now there are thousands of Human Resource managers and training managers busy filling out workplace skills plans for submission to the SETAs (Sector education and training authorities).

Chances are that the first things on their lists will be the health and safety, firefighting, first aid, HIV/Aids awareness, and all the things that contribute zero to the efficiency and profitability of the company.

But will the salespeople, the people out in the battlefield defending everybody else’s pay cheque be on the list?

If they are, then they will probably get the budget leftovers.

Programmes on communication skills, customer service, negotiation skills, time management, self-esteem and goal setting – which, by the way, are important for all staff members – will most probably be ignored.

Refresher programmes to motivate and build confidence in salespeople, to let them know they are appreciated, will probably not feature in the work-place skills plan, and, as a result everybody in South Africa loses.

Having worked with and trained salespeople over a period of half a century, I’m constantly amazed and disappointed at how much they get taken for granted – maybe this letter will act as a wake-up call to some of those bosses and managers out there.

I sincerely hope so.