Do we even need Salespeople?

“Salespeople are the most important people in the business. Because without a sale, you don’t have any business”

I read this old saying in a blog post the other day and it didn’t make any more sense than the hundreds of other times I’ve heard it (normally from salespeople). Sales is just one part of the business process that sustains a healthy enterprise. It’s neither more or less important than any other part.

The business can’t sustain itself if it doesn’t have anything to sell, if it doesn’t deliver a product or service. Or look after its customers, and meet their needs. Or if it doesn’t bill them and collect their money (the most common cause of business failure is lack of cash flow – does that make Finance the most important part of the business?).

In fact, many businesses don’t have salespeople at all. Probably the majority, given that in most owner-managed business the owner does the selling along with everything else. In most internet businesses there’s no need for sales because the customer orders online.

Even where salespeople are involved, they are involved much later in the buying process than ever before. The client has often done their research, made their short list and are just calling them in to negotiate price and terms. Marketing and the other customer-facing parts of the business are the ones involved in the crucial early part of the buying process.

Don’t get me wrong, sales are vital to a business. They are an absolutely necessity – but not sufficient for success. You need the whole package, it’s a team game.

And the team doesn’t have to have salespeople in it.