One of the primary roles of any CEO is to be a salesperson for the company … perhaps to be THE primary salesperson for the company. You want your team to believe in your company probably even more than you want any individual potential client to believe, because if your people are “sold” on the virtues of your company, products and services then selling clients will be much easier.
As a CEO who came from a sales background I should have a “leg up” on that aspect of the job … but no matter how good a salesperson you might be, or might have been, you can never become complacent. I believe that it is critical to always be upgrading your skills, practicing your trade and “sharpening the saw” as Steven Covey suggested in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
One of the things I do is to subscribe to the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) and along with that membership comes a regular newsletter with great articles and leading edge thinking. I have referenced this organization many times in previous blogs … in January 2008 I gave some reasons for joining CPSA and referenced an article about 6 trends sales people should be aware of. In march this year I blogged about the CPSA magazine and an article about 12 Golden Principles of Selling. In July 2007 I referenced an article about some common sales mistakes, again an informative article from CPSA.
If you are in sales … and certainly I believe EVERY senior executive should consider themselves to be a salesperson representing their company … the CPSA is a great resource.
One of the other things I do is to bring in sales expertise to work with our company. We have had several people over the years who have brought fresh ideas and new approaches to the team. I fully participate in this training (a) to ensure that what is taught is consistent with our company culture also, (b) to ensure that I know what my team knows and (c) for me to learn new “stuff” … because if you are in a leadership role and stop learning new things, then you should consider giving up your role.
In addition to the CPSA resource and our own internal sales training programs I also read many business books, typically through the Executive Book Summaries resource … which I have spoken about often. Books such as Exceptional Selling by Jeff Thull, Bag the Elephant by Steve Kaplan and Customer Centric Selling by John Holland and Michael Bosworth all help me to keep looking at how I can be a better sales person.
Selling is the life blood of any company. If you don’t sell your product or service then in all likelihood you are a “not for profit”, a government agency … OR out of business. The sales profession has a chequered history, not always covering itself in glory, but a professional sales team can make every difference.
If you sell then continue to invest in yourself … join professional sales organizations, get training, get certified in sales (CPSA have a Certified Sales professional designation), read and continue to learn. Do whatever you can to be a professional!