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Sales – oxygen for business
Importance of sales
Breathing is vital for all human beings, it is the way we fuel our cells with oxygen and power our thinking and moving. But what powers companies to achieve new, higher levels from year to year?
The answer is sales, it is oxygen for business. It prevents companies from suffocating and losing their vitality. Unfortunately, succeeding in sales is not as natural for companies as breathing is for us.
From R&D to sales
I started my career in product development with a strict focus on the product and its features. I was sure that a good product would be the key to the success of company. However, this was only a small slice of the truth.
Later, I got a chance to see closer how sales works. Realising how rewarding it was with a satisfied customer, there was no going back. Sales was problem solving in the front row! In sales, you also have a great viewpoint on the internal operations of the company, to its customers and external stakeholders.
Sales power companies to achieve higher levels as learned in Professional Sales Management MBA program in TUAS
After my practical learning-by-doing period in sales, I was asked to focus on our company’s export sales. This was the first time I started to think of sales as a strategic function and how the processes should be organized to reach the highest efficiency possible. At this point, it was also clear to me that I need to gain more formal knowledge from sales.
Once again, the answer was closer than I thought. The MBA programme in “Professional Sales Management” at TUAS seemed to be the perfect match for my professional development needs.
Journey to sales excellence
On the third of September, I stepped into a large auditorium in Turku with hundreds of other students. All seeking to increase their knowledge on different areas of life and business. This was the beginning of an interesting journey.
During the first autumn, I participated in three different courses:
In “Recent trends in B2B buying behaviour”, carried out by Sirpa Hänti, we were introduced to how to identify trends in the business environment and how to utilize these in sales planning. In the rapidly changing world this topic is getting more and more important.
We also had a formal look on how the customer sees sales. This approach was introduced well in the book “Understanding the Professional Buyer “(Cheverton and Van der Valde, 2011). Still too often sales people focus on own interest of succeeding, while true value is in understanding customer needs.
On the “Presentation and negotiation in sales” course, Timo Holopainen introduced to us the secrets of successful negotiation practices and how to pass your message to the audience with a good presentation. Here we were taken out of the comfort zone by video recording our presentations and reviewing them. Recording your speech or presentation can be quite painful but I can highly recommend it. This opens the way to identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Based on these findings, we made an action plan to study these independently even further during the following months.
On the “Advanced B2B sales” course held by Sini Jokiniemi, we focused on several scientific articles related to sales management and strategy.
How to implement strategy in sales was considered comprehensively in the article: “Putting Sales at the Center of Strategy” (Cespedes, F. 2014). An interesting point here was the conclusion that in 90% of cases, the strategy implementation to sales fails. I can highly recommend this for all managers and sales people. There is plenty of room for improvement.
Part of the learning on this course was also to learn how to read scientific articles and how to find the right information efficiently. You need to focus on the big picture instead of minor details. Sounds obvious but is not so easy when trying to find the thread in a scientific article.
We also had the possibility to learn value-based selling (VBS) from visiting guest lecturer Johannes Reiterer from Wiener Neustadt University of Applied Sciences, Austria. Johannes opened up the VBS process and managed to give new perspectives, even the topic is quite old and commonly well known. The customer needs a solution with identified value, not the product. The reference book,” Infinite Value” by Mark Davies, will definitely be found in my bookshelf in the future.
After the past four months at TUAS, I am confident that this will be an interesting journey towards MBA in sales. The possibility to apply these new practices to my daily work brings significant value for my company and increases my knowledge and skills in sales to a new level.
Cespedes, F. (2014) Putting Sales at the Center of Strategy. Harvard Business Review, 92 (10).
Cheverton, P. – Velde van der, J. P. (2011) Understanding the Professional Buyer. What every sales professional should know about how the modern buyer thinks and behaves. Kogan Page, Replika Press Pvt Ltd, India.
Davies, M. (2017) Infinite Value, Bloomsbury Business