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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Every Manager Should Learn From Sales

I thought to share this nice article:

Business is all about customers and selling. That’s why every manager and executive should be a salesperson once in his career. The skills and lessons are indispensible and difficult to learn any other way.

I don’t care if you manage engineers, marketing, operations, or customer service; you’re still a salesperson. You sell every day. You don’t just sell products and services; you sell your projects, budget, ideas, and capabilities. And your customers aren’t just the paying kind; they include everybody you interface with.

I spent years in sales, even took a step back from a management career to learn the skills. It was the best career move I ever made. I learned some critical lessons along the way; here are five:

What Every Manager Should Learn From Sales

* Shut up and listen. Nothing you’ve ever read or learned is nearly as important as what the person across from you is about to say … if you just shut up and listen. When you talk first, you lock yourself into a position or path. But if you listen, you gain far more information.
* Problems create opportunities. Your biggest and best opportunities to make a difference will always be when things go wrong. How you respond in time of crisis, when somebody needs you, is a window into your true capability. And that spells opportunity if you rise to the occasion.
* It’s all about relationships. There are no companies or businesses, just people. Business is all about individuals and their interrelationships. When things go wrong, that’s the glue that holds everything together. There’s no such thing as a self-sustaining business.
* Your customer always does come first. Call it business Karma, but whatever you have going on, whatever you expect to accomplish on any given day, when somebody, anybody comes to you with a problem, help them first. Remember: you have way more customers than you think.
* Understand motives. When you think about what you’re going to say or do, you miss an opportunity to make a difference. If, on the other hand, you ask, “how can I help you,” or ask yourself “what’s in it for her,” you’ll be in a far better position to help … and recognize opportunities.

Last Word
The beauty of selling is that you learn under fire, which naturally accelerates the learning process. There truly is no better way to learn how business really works.