Published 16-02-2021
| Article appears in February 2021 Issue

Sales is an inside activity… it has been for years!

Sales used to be an outside activity

Most executives think of sales as an outside activity.

Justin Roff-Marsh claims that it isn’t and that it hasn’t been for at least 15 years.

Furthermore, he argues that if you design your sales function based upon the assumption that sales is an outside activity, you will seriously handicap the growth of your organisation.

Sales used to be an outside activity

Sales certainly used to be an outside activity. The image of Ray Kroc hawking Multi-Mixer machines from the trunk of his car in the 2016 move The Founder springs to mind.

Things are different today, however. Few salespeople drop in on prospective customers unannounced. And most executives prefer to make purchasing decisions with as little face-to-face contact with salespeople as possible.

Consequently, salespeople today spend most of their working hours inside. Either in a company office or in a home office. What’s more, if you examine the specific activities that genuinely need to be performed face-to-face in pursuit of a deal, those activities are increasingly not performed by salespeople. Technical tasks (detailed requirement discovery and demonstrations) tend to be performed by engineers, and formal presentations in major-account sales environments tend to be performed by senior executives.

It's time to face that selling has moved inside

Roff-Marsh’s advice is to recognise that sales is an inside activity and to design your sales function in accordance with that. He counsels that salespeople should work inside exclusively and that all salespeople should be based in the organisation’s head office, making management easier.

Critical field activities should be pushed to engineers or technical specialists, or to senior executives, as appropriate. He also maintains that salespeople should focus exclusively on the pursuit of new business. Leaving the management of inbound transactions to the customer service team.

Justin Roff-Marsh is the author of the book The Machine: A Radical Approach to the Design of the Sales Function. You can get the first 4 chapters of this book absolutely free here.


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