When I first started out in sales as an aspirational and motivated twenty-year-old the industry was incredibly self-centred. All that anyone thought about was themselves, whether (and I include myself in this) their suit was nice enough, or how much commission they were going to make that week. The language and conversation always seemed to be focused on how great the sales teams and individual sales people were, resulting in the clients and customers being taken for granted. The time spent in the office was always spent on working on sales techniques, which is of course vital to a sales business, but there were never any conversations about the amount of value they could add to the customer and clients.
As I went through my twenties and reached my early thirties, I started to see the sales industry from a different light. Namely, not a particularly bright one. There seemed to be a prevailing negative attitude towards the sales industry from practically every quarter. It didn’t help that a lot of sales people had short lived careers. This attitude was evident even with clients as it seemed most took the sales industry with a pinch of salt and just sometimes thought it was a necessary evil.
One day I just thought why does it have to be like this? Why can’t we build a sustainable sales model where both the customers and the clients love working with sales people? Is it really so far-fetched to aspire to build long lasting relationships with both sides of business together? In order to leave the smash-and-grab sales industry behind and move forward into the building businesses together industry I knew the sales industry needed to change. That’s why I started The Interactive Team.
Personally, I adore sales, I love the thrill of it, I love the challenge of selling, I love the grind. When you make that difficult sale, you feel absolutely amazing. Conversely, I also love the outright exposure as every transaction or interaction you make, that’s where the buck stops, there’s no running from it. It’s a very meticulous process that demands perfection. Sales is also a fascinating learning experience as quite a lot of it is language based i.e., how to better communicate with others whether verbal or gestural.
To my mind, at the time clients, peers and colleagues still saw sales as a short-term gain rather than a long-term opportunity which is what I aspired to make it. I realised this wasn’t as far-fetched as I’d been led to believe when I was that motivated twenty-year-old. If we learned to work with our clients and they with us, united in both goals and vision, not only would that change the sales game forever, moreover it would be an incredibly powerful way to conduct business.
As 2012 was coming to an end, I set off on my own to set up The Interactive Team with a clear yet ambitious vision – to revolutionise our industry. Our goal was to build the most professional, proactive, and powerful UK sales force. My belief that the sales industry had to change meant we needed to flip the status quo on its head, namely instead of focusing on ourselves we needed to implement a values system that went above and beyond. The result of this was a unique value system of putting our 4 partners first.
Place of business
I believed if a sales person put their client, their customer, their place of business and their team first, these 4 partners would then reciprocate, resulting in longevity in the relationship. This was the long-term focus and opportunity I wanted and so The Interactive Team has been built on the values of putting our 4 partners first.
We soon realised it was the best decision I’d ever made. We won all the best clients in our market. We didn’t lose a single client but rather we grew, developed, and learned alongside them. The value that we were adding to our clients and the value that they were adding to us just strengthened our beliefs in our mission statement, in our goal and in our values. Additionally, so too did the knock-on effect this generated to the client’s extended business, their customers and my entire sales force. In doing so, we have been able to give our clients longer lasting, higher yielding, better informed, and happier customers to our clients. Our customers don’t feel like they’ve been pressured to, or even sold to. We deliver a more consultative, longer lasting, softer sales process.
Our entire business is built on how much value we can deliver to our 4 partners, and in doing so, our 4 partners have been delivering equal value to us. It’s a wonderful win-win situation across all parties involved. Furthermore, our sales people have found respect, understanding, patience and a new way of thinking in these values which is not only working but has improved our business.
My vision was to revolutionise the sales industry. Having a value-focused sales force is the best thing I’ve ever done in business. Our clients are happier, our customers are happier, and our sales teams are more stable. No one who works with us looks at sales as a short-term stopgap anymore. Rather they are realising that not only can sales be enjoyable and fun-filled but also an ever changing, long term career opportunity. All in all, instead of thinking what can I gain from this, start thinking what value can I add?
Keep smashing it,
What I’m listening to:
- Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
- The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin