I've finally understood "The Apprentice"

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So you're over Agency work.. over the sales? Over the cold calls? over the rejection? over the financial expectations? the stats? the KPI's? the managers looking over your shoulder? The feeling that no-one wants to talk to you? You've just got to get out of sales! I know the feeling. You think... I know Recruitment, I'll go into Internal Recruitment, or try to move up to HR (I hate that thought, UP to HR.... Seriously? but apparently it happens)

I have news for you... it's all bad.

I used to watch "The Apprentice" and wonder why Donald Trump, Alan Sugar et al (OK the network executives and the producers of these shows) base the hiring of a high level executive based on their sales activities. Surely there is more to an executive than just leading and working in teams and selling stuff?

I have put a fair bit of thought into this over the last little while.

You know what? There isn't.

I am a big fan of the KISS principle. (Keep it Simple Stupid) Taking business to its simplest form, you have something that people see as valuable, they give you something for it (money, rocks, beads, whatever). You try to get as many of these things as possible, they try to part with as little of aforementioned belonging for it, and BANG you are selling and in business.

Everyone is in sales. Everything is sales! And just to put it in perspective, no one actually gets paid unless someone sells something! Sounds cold doesn't it. But it is true, if nothing is sold, how else will money come in. (I know there are exceptions, but in most occurrences, if nothing is sold, then no money is made).

But surely, working in HR isn't sales?

Serious? I know of no other group in any organisation that has to work as hard to sell the vision of a company, some of the time to an unwilling or unreceptive audience. I mean what other group, can meet a group of employees, tell them extra hours may need to be done, but there cannot be any overtime! and still have people smiling as they walk out of the room?

Internal Recruitment surely isn't sales?

Sorry. You are selling... all the time, just in a different way. You are selling your companies reputation, your Employee Value Proposition, your opportunity and yourself to a wider, unknown market. You still need to close, ie get someone to sign. You still get pressure from your managers to hit KPI's, if you are "hunting" for people you still need to make cold calls. More people do want to talk to you though!

OK move into Finance.. surely not selling?

Sorry, these people look at the figures, the accounts, the in's and out's of a business, and ensure (well try to) that the story these numbers tell, is acceptable to the market as a whole, ie selling the story. Manipulating or being creative with the numbers etc.

Reception.. now that's pretty safe for a sales free role isn't it?

Not even close, how many of us make decisions on a company based on what it is like as soon as you walk in? How you are greeted and looked after whilst you wait for your appointment. Places don't call receptionists the Directors of First impressions for nothing. I knew a place where the CEO sat at reception during a round of interview, just to see how the applicants treated the reception staff as opposed to her. I've also had people comment about our reception staff, how they relate to each other, and set the tone for the company, and may I add, we were a place they really wanted to join.

OK, the cleaners, surely they aren't?

Sorry, wrong. Their job is to ensure that the environment is looking as nice as possible. Pre-sales if you will. To ensure that people are comfortable buying from you or your company. I have a mate who has a theory, he won't buy a car from a car lot that is on gravel or unsealed. Why? He's not sure they will be there tomorrow as it doesn't look like it would be. No investment in the long term you see. Same theory is applicable.

I'm afraid through everything we do people make buying decisions based on what we do and how we do it. Just because you aren't out there knocking on doors, making cold calls, writing tenders or closing those big deals doesn't mean you aren't selling.

You need to stop turning up your nose at the idea of sales. You need to embrace it, go with it, find a way to do it better. There may be aspects of the Sales cycle you don't like and don't want to get involved with... that's fine. However, respect the idea that you are in sales. It will be better for both you and your company in the long run. No-one wants to The Donald in the Boardroom if he's only got two words for you.

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