By Robert Turner, Operations Manager at Wolfestone

Whilst this is a question that has been thrown around board rooms for years, for me, the answer remains absolute and fundamentally integral to the success of any business, YES!

This doesn’t simply mean all staff need to be the next Joe Girard overnight but it does mean that everyone should understand the importance of sales and also the importance of building relationships using their own sales ability.

Sales focused businesses will be constantly growing, evolving, coming up with new, smarter, more efficient and cost effective ways to work, providing the end client with a better service and final product.   If the sales focused business was a car, the sales focused employee would be the engine, powering the company along.  If the employees within these businesses are not sales orientated and focused on delivering these improvements, another company will be and the customers will follow.

Putting emphasis on sales doesn’t mean all your employees need to start making outbound calls, or hard selling to your customers.  The way people do business has changed.  Sales focus needs to be on meeting and exceeding customer needs, understanding customers and adding value that means they wouldn’t consider using anyone else.  By having everyone committed to customer focus, you can position your business as unique.

If a business itself is not sales focused, the business it is likely to shrink in size, lose customers or become stagnant and get left behind by the competition.

For Wolfestone, being sales focused is a driving force and has served to help us continue to grow over the last six years within the extremely competitive translation services industry where clients are demanding more for less.  By investing heavily in technology, staff and training to make sure that we are able to be at the leading end of the market and add value for our clients.  This wouldn’t have been possible if we did not have the sales focused team we have spotting the gaps and potential improvements.

In short, a sales orientated employee is a valuable asset to any business that considers itself commercially focused and wants to be or remain successful in these current tough and competitive economic climates.

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  • Arek Estall

    Great article Rob. Has anyone come across any examples of businesses implementing a sales focus across all departments?

  • Silke Lührmann

    Sales is only one part of running a business, albeit an important one. Once a company has successfully sold a product or service to a customer or client, it needs to be able to deliver – and that requires very different skills and processes. In fact, the strength of Wolfestone Translation – as of any other successful operation – lies in the diversity of our workforce and in the way our different skillsets and mindsets complement and compensate each other.  

    As a translator, my focus is arguably still on customer service, but above all it’s on quality and accuracy. I derive my job satisfaction from finding the right words and putting them together in a way that is both effective and elegant. Money does not interest or motivate me beyond the fact that I need a certain amount of it to live my life the way I want it, a life where I can afford the luxury of not attaching a price tag to everything I do for myself and others.  I like having an in-house position (instead of freelancing) precisely because it means that I can concentrate on my core skills and leave the sales(wo)manship to other people who are far better at it than I am, but who wouldn’t be able to tell a subjunctive from a  Subway sandwich if their monthly bonus depended on it.  There’s a place for sales-oriented staff in any company – it’s in the Sales department. 

  • Emma Hughes

    I think I would have to agree with Silke to a certain extent, I’m not sure that its our sales focus that keeps us continually looking to improve our services for our clients and growing year after year, rather our customer satisfaction focus. Not everyone needs to have a sales focus but they certainly do need to have a customer focus.
    Is that the same as a sales focus?

  • Kate M

    Emma, I agree. In simplistic terms, if employees are customer focussed then the sales should look after themselves. This is the very essence of retail where my background lies, where the customer experience is the cornerstone of the business model, and I believe it applies to any business model.

  • Personally I believe that it is the job of the organisations leaders to share the vision, to then communicate this effectively, to then empower its people to deliver the vision, whilst supporting them to be the best that they can be.

    It is through people that profits are realised.

    So should the organisation be sales focused – yes, but to me that sounds harsh and bullying. I would like to see people as the focus.

    Knowing Wolfstone, I get where you are coming from and that’s why you are successful.

  • Rob Turner

    I am glad to see that this article has sparked some debate!!

    My point was that sales does not just mean “selling a product or service” to a customer.

    Sales focus incorporates the relationships between departments, clients, suppliers and everything that goes along with that.

    I agree with Silke and Emma’s point that for an organisation to be successful then the customer focus is key and will quote my own article here; “Sales focus needs to be on meeting and exceeding customer needs, understanding customers and adding value that means they wouldn’t consider using anyone else. By having everyone committed to customer focus, you can position your business as unique.”

    Kate, in relation to your post and the Retail industry, you are right in saying that the customer is the focus and also the cornerstone of the business model….however isn’t a customer only a customer when they buy something….and this involves a sale?

    Hence, being sales focused is an asset to any and every business, true?

    Thanks for all your comments anyway and I look forward to hearing more… 🙂

  • David Jones

    Excellent article and I agree with the central premise that every job is effectvely a sales job. These debates are often fuelled by different views of what “sales” is or should be. I believe professional consultative sales boils down to one thing; helping people to buy something they want. If your company is striving to do this, then every conversation and every written word exchanged internally and externally either moves you closer to that goal or farther away from it. (If your company isn’t striving to do this then they don’t deserve to have good people working for them). So every call is a sales call, every email is a sales email, every interaction is an opportunity to persuade someone of the merits of what you’re doing. Some of the best salespeople I’ve worked with wouldn’t describe themselves as salespeople at all. They are people who believe in what they’re doing, believe in helping clients to make a purchase that will genuinely add value for them and as an extension of that believe it’s perfectly natural to have a conversation that moves a client closer to that “win-win” outcome. And if you’re not moving them closer to it, you’re moving them farther away. That’s bad news for you and, if your product is worth having, it’s bad news for them too. I believe strongly that everyone should aspire to moving people closer, making that positive impact, whatever their job title.

  • Kate M

    Hi Rob, I agree that customer focus is the key, and that meeting and exceeding expectations is as key to delivering the bottom line as it is to building a brand. It depends how you define your customers and how they define their needs and what a sale is to you, is it simply one transaction or is it a reciprocal agreement? I agree with what David says about every email and every interaction being important i.e. the experience for the customer. Then you won’t simply have a sales transaction whether it be for a product or a service, but a relationship that leads to more than one sale and a long term revenue stream. http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/7-ways-to-make-customers-love-you.html

  • kproductivity

    Better than a ‘sales focused’ organisation I would propose a ‘value added focused’ organisation. Employees should not be oriented towards selling (at any price), but bearing in mind if what they do is adding up to the whole client experience. We do not have to forget that this will not only be good for the company in terms of profit, but it will raise its social responsibility standards which, in turn, will provoke better profits in the long-term.