The problem with sales jobs…are you riding a nag?

The problem with sales jobs is that they aren’t all real.

What do I mean by that?

As Gary Bencivenga says in his brilliant article, if the horse is an old nag, no matter how good you are as a sales or marketing person, you will have a rough time and ultimately fail.

On the other hand, if the horse is a winner, then you as the jockey, will get lots of credit and be very successful.

I have experienced this painfully and more than once. You begin selling a product, you know how to sell and love it. You put lots of energy, smarts and leverage into the effort. And still the results are meager.

You are pretty confident the issue is not you, because you’ve done this successfully many times in the past. After a few months, you begin to lose enthusiasm and your efforts decline.

It’s very hard to continue to do something that is obviously not working, at least for me.

The problem is not your professional knowledge and skill. The problem is that you are doing something that is not doable.

If there is no real demand for a product, it’s not going to sell, no matter what you do.

The job of sales is not to create demand, that does not exist, that’s impossible (unless you have a billion dollar budget and a decade or so). Instead the job of sales is to maximize sales and company revenue. To speed the process of customer and revenue acquisition.

A sales job selling a no or low demand product is arguably not a real job. You just can’t win, and that’s no fun.

So, to be successful in sales, you need to be able to find and sell high demand products. You need to avoid demand-less “rocks”.

So how do you find high demand products to sell?

The short answer is to ask prospects and customers BEFORE you take the job.

Don’t pay any attention to what the company tells you. They don’t know.

Easier said than done. So how do you do it?

Pick up the phone and call decision makers and ask them if the product you are considering selling has any real demand. Ask if the problem the product solves is important to them – important enough for them to spend real money on it this year.

You are a sales professional, this should be easy for you.

If you fail to do this work, you will miss your quota and be drummed out in a year or less. Sorry, that’s the truth of the matter. Worse, you’ll hate every minute. Even worse than that, you’ll be made feel that the failing is yours personally, when it’s not.

Don’t waste your time with fake sales jobs.

Read the Bencivenga article, he does a much better job of explaining the concept.


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