An article on Forbes was recently brought to my attention via Twitter. The article was by Tom Mendoza, entitled: “Job #1 Is Sales — For ANY Employee”.
I’ll give the guy credit for good intentions, but man, is it the WRONG MESSAGE.
Look, nobody can really argue that an organization needs income in order to survive. Whether it’s a non-profit operating off of donations, a social media start-up running first on investor money and then eventually selling advertising to it’s users (e.g. Facebook), or a retail business selling at the cash register. And sure, every employee’s actions in some way contribute to sales occurring, but “sales” is NOT the job of every employee… SERVICE is!
When someone makes a statement like “sales is every employee’s job” they are pushing a viewpoint that is both inaccurate AND a bad way to motivate most of your employees.
A More Accurate View
It’s really important not to confuse the PRODUCT or SERVICE your organization produces, with WHAT IS EXCHANGED for that product or service (usually money). It is also important not to confuse the product or service your organization produces, with the ACTION OF EXCHANGING IT for money (which we call “sales”). The action of exchanging it is done by the salesperson. Sales is the job of salespeople and of those who supervise them.
Someone might think I’m nitpicking terms here, but sometimes these seemingly small distinctions of definition and purpose can make a HUGE difference in the ability of a person to be effective at their jobs.
The ACTUAL job of every employee is PROVIDING EXCELLENT PRODUCT AND SERVICE EXPERIENCES FOR ALL OF THEIR CUSTOMERS. Now THAT is something that everyone in the organization directly contributes to. That’s what the ideal organization, in all it’s parts, produces. And if everyone in the organization produces in that direction, then sales are much easier to come by. Customers are happy to provide money IN-EXCHANGE for the value the organization is giving them.
If you’d like to really rub your employees the wrong way, and make them uncomfortable in their jobs, less satisfied and less trusting of management, just keep telling them over and over that sales is the most important thing, and that all of their work needs to be centered around making sure that the company makes sales. The only people who you might be able to address that way would be the salespeople in your organization, but the funny thing is that even they would start responding badly to it after a while. Even a salesmen needs to know that he is producing more than just money. He needs to keep his focus on how he’s HELPING and PROVIDING VALUE TO the people and organizations he is selling to. And if that is his main focus, he’ll be far more effective at his job.
Test it Out
If you’re not sure about what I’m saying here, then I challenge you to find out for yourself. Take any two groups of employees and meet with them separately for a pep talk. With one group, be sure to emphasis how they need to consider every action they do in the organization through the lens of how it affects the company’s SALES. With the other group, insist they measure all their actions and tasks against the yardstick of whether it makes for a better and happier customer experience of their services and products.
Note the initial reactions of each group. Which one responds more readily and happily to your pep talk and seems more motivated by it?
Follow-up with each group again in subsequent meetings and do the same thing. And note any changes in the general productivity levels and job satisfaction with each group.
It won’t take very long to see my point.