Because value is more important than price; business schools should teach that sales and not knowledge is truly the new superpower for business people
The best sales teams know that customers respond to value more than anything else, and so business schools can begin looking at MBA programs differently
Do not index
Do not index
Sales and distribution are the most undervalued skill sets
Numerous studies have shown that emotions have a significant impact on purchasing behaviours. In fact, emotions are often the primary drivers of such behaviours.
Identifying the areas of a corporation's operations that yield its revenue, though daunting, doesn't necessarily require a genius. The teams that have marketing and sales ingrained in their DNA (and can quickly learn these skills) are the ones that are most likely to succeed.
While it is true that other contributing skills, such as product and agency, as well as team strength, are important for early stage firms or startups, they are not the most essential factors. Sales, Marketing, and Distribution on the other hand, are crucial for success. The ability to sell whatever product a company offers, and get it into the consumers hands is at the foundation of its glory. With strong sales skills, a company can achieve great success and secure its place in the market. I can’t think of anything else.
It's a real simple choice to make; follow the money money (which is the driver for continued existence - bills gotta be paid huh), build relationships, and expand your business, or argue politics, irrelevant product changes, and market evaluations.
If you've been around for a while, you understand that you can't really do both, and still succeed. Pick your fighter; pick sales.
But why isn't sales training a bigger part of MBA programs?
Probably because sales (and the associated activities) are seen as less intellectually rigorous than fields like finance, economics, people, and marketing – which is ridiculous. Completely bonkers.
If business schools, whatever their ratings, want to produce business leaders, they should produce people who can sell. Anything else outside of this is publicity and image garnishing.
Take, for instance, the case of Airbnb's founder explaining how he's gotten off his high office CEO entitlement and doubled down to work with the Product and Distributions teams (both of which are areas where the business really makes its money), and the results have shown. Outside of the publicity this generated, engagements with the app are at an all-time high.
Okay so you want to make a case – Selling is hard. Making something people want to buy is also hard. Everything in business is hard, but the case for sales is predetermined by what we mean by sales training too. Do we teach theory and practice in a controlled environment only? A portion of the MBA community will attest to never having done any real-world assignments for their programs.
True sales, on the other hand, can't be simulated like you would balance statements and payroll; you'll ultimately have to pick up the phone and sell something to someone to get better.
And this is probably true of all business education (maybe all education, for that matter). Think: Business schools could (even better, must) still require practical training in the fundamentals courses, as other faculties do for other disciplines that are similarly impossible to master without doing them. The true learning is in the doing. I stand by this.
Secondly, and probably common knowledge at this point, is that MBA programs are shaped by demand. The biggest global firms and institutions drive demand in the recruiter space.
In big firm culture, hiring managers and recruiters splash the MBA requirement on tons of roles/functions that don't necessarily require MBAs specifically. And which skills do you think are most needed on these job descriptions? Your guess is right; Data Analytics, Climate and Sustainability, etc. – a ton of oddities where an MBA poses an overly-excessive requirement.
If lots of big companies recruited MBAs for quota-carrying sales roles, MBA programs would adapt.
The question still begs; why aren't they already doing this? Could it be a perception thing? That sales cannot be taught in books and lectures? That sales is a skill that must be learned at the corner of persistence and failures? This perception is totally inaccurate.
The real point here is not for business schools to simply churn out salespeople (even though I'd love that), that’s not what I’m saying. The real case is for these MBA providers to require a grounding in sales for all students, most of whom will never have sales titles. In reality, even those Data Analytics and Climate Action folk are going to be so much better in their roles if they can sell.
Stop selling, start storytelling
The most effective sales approach is not just about selling, but also about telling a compelling story. It's important to be authentic and stay true to your values, even with sales, as you offer something of value to your customers that is in their best interest. Keyword, best interest.
As a business founder or CEO, you are always in a position of selling. Whether it's recruiting new talent, forming partnerships, acquiring new customers, or pitching to investors, everything requires a sales pitch. However, it's important to remember that sales is not just about persuasion and charm. It's a rigorous business practice that involves complex operations, processes and management strategies.
The best salespeople are highly intelligent, very organised, and successful individuals. Salespeople understand how to create value for their customers. Those who master the art of sales, are ultimately bound to achieve tremendous success in any industry. This is proven and tested.
Based on my experience, the ability to sell a complex idea is the best predictor of success, for anyone. Even at the top management level. Why? Because sales at its fundamentals involves understanding the psychology of people, and what drives decision-making processes, both within and outside the organisation.
In today's modern economy, it's important for businesses to structure incentives across teams, not just for sales and shareholders, but also for employees who are beginning to see themselves as "customers" of their employers – Gen Z got us all. Truth is, doing so, creates a more engaged and motivated workforce that is better equipped to serve customers, and even staff themselves alike.
Ultimately, the theory behind sales teaches us that salespeople are the main revenue generators in any organisation. It doesn't matter if management doesn't find it fancy or not, sales will always remain a key driver of success.
Fun fact: Knowledge is not power. Selling your knowledge is.
Weekly Product Find
With every post, I’ll share (a) remarkable product/s I discovered that may be a game-changer in its space:
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