sales Profession

I graduated from Arizona State University in 3 years with honors. I don’t say that to brag, but to put the following paragraph in context.

When I announced to my dad that I was going “into sales” I could detect an ounce (more like a pound) of concern. Why on earth would I go to all that effort to earn a business degree at warp speed and with summa cum laude recognition and then waste it on a career as a salesperson. OK, he might not have exactly said “waste” but that’s what he meant. Two things were behind his concern:

Why did I need a business degree for a sales job (anyone can do sales, you don’t need a degree)
Why not use that knowledge on something that is more deserving, like becoming a CPA or you know, some other professional career.
My dad’s concerns were forgotten over time seeing that I could make a good living and I was coming into my own. That’s really all he wanted—for me to have a steady job that paid well and provided some security. Even so, I’m sure the nagging concern that Sales was somehow a less-than-profession took some time to dissipate.

Nothing could please me more, than to see how much things have changed. This was in the early ‘80s. The sales profession has come a long way since then. No doubt, the growth of the computer industry and the rapid acceleration of high-tech deserve great credit for the transformation of Sales into a key role. Companies like Xerox and IBM began rigorous sales training programs that turned college grads into top revenue generating professionals.

Here we are now 30 years later. Gartner forecasts the Worldwide Information technology industry alone, to hit $3.8 TRILLION. Do you know what that means? It means there are a lot of salespeople helping buyers make decisions on technology solutions. Of course that’s just one sector. If you search for people in LinkedIn with the keyword “sales” you’ll see nearly 23 million. 23 million! It’s no wonder that more than 50 universities are now offering programs in Sales.

Even well-known management and business experts have taken an interest and are writing about the subject of sales in books like the one by Dan Pink, “To Sell is Human.” And of course there are equally great books by sales industry experts like, well, like many of the people that were recently named by OpenView Labs as top 25 Sales Industry influencers: Jill Konrath, Mike Weinberg, Colleen Francis, Mark Hunter, Kendra Lee, and Aaron Ross.

In fact the reason why I’m writing about all of this is to acknowledge both the recognition and the contribution that OpenView Labs has given to the profession. They have been an amazing resource for business people and sellers that want to stay up-to-date on the latest thinking about the world of Sales. And for the third year, they’ve recognized 25 people for their contribution to the industry.

Would my dad have felt better way back when, if I had told him that someday I’d be recognized as one of the top 25 sales industry influencers? Perhaps. But it isn’t needed now, he changed his mind on the whole thing long ago. Like others, he’s come to realize that to sell is human. And to sell as a profession is one of the most enjoyable, challenging, rewarding, and enriching careers I could ever have imagined.

Thank you, Openview Labs, for this wonderful honor. But most importantly, for your own contribution to the sales profession and to your commitment to helping companies grow through smarter selling strategies and processes.

Note: If you’d like to hear four of these sales industry influencers in one webinar, you’re in luck. Dan Enthoven of Enkata will be joined by Jill Konrath, Miles Austin, Mark Hunter and Mike Weinberg for an interesting discussion on: ” How to Manage Underachievers on Your Sales Team.” The webinar is free and even if you can’t attend, you’ll receive access to the recording.