In sales it is often forgotten or not recognized that sales has people’s careers in its hands.
I don’t know if it’s because the economy is putting stress on sales teams and companies or it’s because competition is becoming more fierce, but I’ve been hearing a lot of stories where sales organizations are making commitments they can’t keep and the ramifications are devastating.
I’ve heard stories where the account manager, with the full support of the organization, told a client the software would be ready by a specific date and he could count on it. The client banked this information, told his organization it would be ready, they managed their customers and their business around the account executives commitment. Yup, you guessed it. The software wasn’t ready in time. It started an entire chain reaction that put the clients customer base in jeopardy, almost cost the person in charge of the effort his job, and devastated the business plan.
Sales is a powerful organization. Those of us in it have others livelihood in our hands. We need to treat it that way. I think it’s too easy to forget that people and organizations rely on us, what we say and commit to. Sales has always been known to “stretch” an organizations capabilities. I like this. I think it’s good to push and stretch. Everyone wins when we reach. But, it’s not OK to stretch too far and not be able to deliver on what you commit to. I’m not talking about lying. It’s never OK to lie. There is no place for dishonesty in sales. But, stretching is not only OK, but a good thing.
When a sales person and their organization makes a commitment to a customer it needs to be met. If you say the software will be done, it has to be done. If you say the product will arrive, it needs to arrive. When a customer chooses to go with you and your company, they are making a commitment to you. That client then in turn makes a commitment inside their company, to their customers, to their finance team, to their IT department etc. These stakeholders then make commitments to the street, to the budget, to marketing, to the employees and more. A sales commitment is more than a simple commitment it starts a domino effect.
Sales wields a lot of power. It impacts a companies, top line, bottom line, customers and employees. When sales makes a commitment peoples jobs are on the line. When commitments are made sales needs to remember this. Sales needs to know they can’t be missed. If they are, the dominoes begin to fall and sales will be responsible for pushing first the one.