In Act 2, Scene 2, of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says:
“What is in a name? That which we call a rose…By any other name, would smell as sweet”
Which brings me to the discussion I hear too often, “What if we called sales people something other than a sales person?”
We see it every day with the proliferation of terms we use for sales people: Relationship managers, Trusted advisors, Account managers, Territory managers, Business developers, Retention managers, SDR, BDR, Business development consultant, Solutions advisors, Customer service reps (Yes, there are those that do provide service and others that sell)…. The list of creative titles for people who sell and produce revenue is endless. The foolishness extends to our executive titles, including the latest most fashionable title for Sales Executives, Chief Revenue Officer (CRO).
Most of the time, these titles are selected to avoid the “stench” of being a sales person. These titles are used because of the negative perception so many have (including those who sell) to the word “sales person.”
The argument being, if we use a different set of words for these people, they would immediately become more accepted. That customers would be more receptive to a call from a Trusted advisor than they would be from the same person with a Sales title.
Now here’s the rub…… (I thought, since I started the post with a quote from Shakespeare, I’d continue in that literary tone……)
Regardless what we call people who sell, if they display the bad behaviors typically associated with sales people, they will still be perceived poorly!
Stated differently, the aversion to sales people has nothing to do with what we are called, but everything to do with how we engage and work with customers and prospects.
We change how sales people—that is sales professionals—are perceived, not by changing titles, but by changing the way we engage and create value for our customers.
We become intolerant of charlatans, manipulators, those who care more about their success/commissions.
We are proud that we have the opportunity to change lives, helping our customers and the organizations they work for achieve, grow, and succeed. We know it is through this success, that we earn the right to continue to do business with them.
We know the personal example we set makes a difference. Our customers see it, value our contribution to their success, and reward it. Our peers see it and emulate it, our companies recognize it as the most sustainable differentiation we can create.
We know what great sales professionals do, and are proud to be labeled as one of them.
We don’t fix the perception of sales by changing what we call ourselves. We fix the perception of sales by changing what we do and creating value in every interaction with our customers.
Turns out Shakespeare knew a lot about being a sales professional:
“See first that the design is wise and just: that ascertained, pursue it resolutely; do not for one repulse forego the purpose that you resolved to effect.”*
* This quote is attributed to Shakespeare, but I can’t find the specific Act/Scene/Play, let me know if you recall it.