If there was one piece of advice I would give to every research & insight candidate who I’ve meet, that I know would add value to their career, it’s this… LEARN TO SELL. Embrace it, run towards it, don’t be afraid of it.
It’s not the 1970’s. We’re not talking cold calling or phone bashing. No one does that anymore (at least I hope not). Sales is now less transactional and more of a customer centric journey. Successful salespeople no longer sell, they connect, they collaborate, they communicate, they CARE.
However, there is still a negative connotation when people talk about sales. It’s a dirty word. Candidates often say to us “I don’t do sales”, “Sales isn’t my thing”, “I am great at building relationships, but I don’t sell”.
I must tell you, you are selling all the time! When you debrief with a client, when you present your insights, you are selling your research. When you are building relationships, you are selling yourself. When you ask your boss for promotion, or when you apply for another job, you are selling yourself. First date… sales again, persuading your child to go to bed… selling, convincing a partner/friend to go on a holiday destination… guess what…you sold it!!!
In your professional life, selling is about being knowledgeable, understanding the sector, the tools available and the ways in which insight can enhance a brand. Selling shows that you are commercially aware, and that you understand where there might be an opportunity. Then it’s about having the skills to initiate and build and maintain a relationship.
The ability to influence, to create trust, and in research, to create a partnership that will have a significant impact on people brands products and businesses. Key words such as influence, trust, relationship, partnership are all words that you would probably apply to your work with clients, and colleagues, so you are more than half way there.
Selling should not be at the bottom of ‘skills I should develop’ pile.
Learning to sell will take you further than many other skills. Its invaluable to a company and in times of economic uncertainty the person who can add directly to the revenue line will be the person with the greatest job security. This is a skill that will enhance your job security and future proof your career.
Many of the great business leaders in this industry sell, and they are proud of it. So my message if you are still listening is, if you are an SRE or RM in a research agency, get involved in the sales process. Find out who sells and how. Ask to go along to some sales meetings. I guarantee it will pay dividends every time you look for a new job.
Have I sold it to you?