As most of us learn in time, French philosopher Voltaire was right when he wrote that, “Common sense is not so common.” Likewise, common sense sales leadership and sales management skills are actually uncommon aptitudes in the small- to medium-sized business environment. Let’s take a deeper look at why sensible and successful sales leadership can be a rare – but achievable – commodity for smaller businesses:
Common Sense is not the Same as Common Knowledge
Many people confuse common sense with common knowledge. Truth is, across the vast spectrum of human intelligence, there is probably very little of either. What may seem intuitively known and accepted to one person might not be so known and accepted to another. Within fields of endeavor – like sales –common knowledge can indeed emerge as a kind of collective professional intelligence.
For example, within the sales profession it is accepted that finding the best sales talent has nothing to do with industry knowledge; and that lagging indicators are typically less valuable than leading indicators because the information they reveal could be “too little, too late” for corrective action.
But even if certain knowledge is universally held to be true in the domain of sales leadership, this knowledge is still not at all common to others in a business organization. Thus, while it is often expected that the small business owner be well-versed in many aspects of the operation, it is unrealistic to expect the owner to be a true expert in all facets – and in particular, the art and science of sales.
Lessons Learned Become Wisdom Earned
Whereas sales professionals sometimes think what they know is common knowledge because they spend so much time with other sales professionals, it can be easy to forget that their expertise is truly unique among business professionals. As our Advisors at Sales Xceleration know, it takes 20+ years to acquire the kind of learning and experience that drive true sales leadership expertise. Typically, this caliber of sales leadership talent has been honed in corporate environments and has been unavailable to smaller businesses due to budget and salary concerns. Likewise, the experienced and knowledgeable sales executive has most likely not considered working in a smaller business environment, thinking that only corporate entities and large-scale markets were truly in need of their services.
An Uncommon Competitive Advantage
Despite this similar thinking of most sales executives and the owners of small- to medium-sized businesses, the truth is that there can be a natural fit for corporate sales leaders in the smaller business environment. As our licensed Advisors have discovered, there is a vast and largely untapped marketplace where small business owners crave the skills and experience of sales leadership professionals who can truly make a difference not only to their bottom line, but sometimes to their very survival.
While most smaller businesses cannot support having a full-time sales executive on staff, they could benefit from the part-time engagement of a sales leader who has turned lessons learned into wisdom earned over a long career in sales management. In most cases, that’s what our Advisors do – they serve smaller businesses as Outsourced VPs of Sales working part-time or in limited-duration engagements to provide the kind of sales management and strategic sales direction that can not only help keep businesses afloat and profitable, but growing significantly. And for business owners who have discovered the availability – and value – of these professional outsourced resources, they typically discover something else, too: having a seasoned sales executive at their disposal can be a distinct competitive advantage over other businesses who continue to operate using less-skilled, less experienced, and less well-led salespeople.
The Bottom Line:
Common sense is not the same thing as common knowledge. And frankly, neither is common at all. While truly knowledgeable and experienced sales leadership professionals might think they possess common sense sales leadership skills, this undervalues the truth: strategic sales leadership knowledge and executive sales management talent are actually rare commodities developed over decades. While these skills are most often honed in large-scale corporate environments, the smaller business marketplace can benefit from seasoned sales executives who want to serve – with purpose – small- to medium-sized businesses that need a competitive sales advantage.
Source: John Lee, Sales Xceleration JohnLee@SalesXceleration.com 503-998-9968