In my humble opinion, the so-called-experts have it all wrong by calling Sales and Negotiation “soft skills”.
The skills that I teach, have nothing “soft” about them. They are actually “hard” skills. Because any skills that can move the needle and boost your revenue by 452% based on last year’s figures, must be hard.
I share that number – 452% – because that has been the result in my business – and during Covid times.
Side point: when you’re ready, I’d love to teach your business the same system I’ve used to do this.
Recently, I had an epiphany about the “soft skills” of Sales and Negotiating when I was doing a few things like;
- Updating my LinkedIn profile…
- Entering some business awards…
- Filling in an online form with 2 different business groups…
- Completing some business documents online….
…and none of them had a business category for “sales”.
I was so surprised that in many of those activities listed, there were epic lists of other professions, some quite obscure… but not one for “sales”.
So not only are these skills referred to as “soft”, but in many places, they don’t even exist as an industry or profession which tells us they are clearly not important.
Here’s a different perspective on this.
Any business that either starts out or wants to grow, readily accepts that they need a marketing plan and relevant marketing activity. I don’t think I’ve ever crossed paths with someone telling me that marketing isn’t necessary.
Also, can you think of any other name or title that “marketing” goes by? I can’t. Marketing is marketing. We all have some degree of understanding of what it’s about and what it’s meant to do for our business.
Let’s talk about the poor cousin that is “sales”.
First of all, people like to dress it up and call it different things like; business development, customer relations, territory manager, customer service and account management.
By definition, “sales” is simply, an exchange of goods or services for currency.
So my question is: why is that such a gross concept? Why don’t we accept that sales is necessary in business and just get on with it? Why do we have to hide away from sales and call it something fancy or even something misleading? Surely people know that the Business Development Manager is going to try and sell us something?
I recently wrote a feature article for The West Australian newspaper about this topic (The article is behind a paywall).
Again by definition, “Negotiating” is a discussion aimed at reaching agreement.
Thanks to Hollywood blockbusters, we often think of negotiating when there are duffle bags stuffed with millions of dollars, escape helicopters and hostages. Or even in business we only think negotiating applies when there is a purchase involved.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Negotiation conversations are entered into any time we hear or say the words “I want” or “I need”… which is several times a day!
Knowing how to negotiate, is also an essential business skill.
Although I can appreciate that there is a legacy associated with “sales” that comes from those 1980’s style tricks and stereotypes, those attributes don’t have a place in the modern-day sales arena.
For businesses to accelerate both their revenue (sales) and their outcomes (negotiation), 2 things need to occur, of which both are the whole reason my company exists:
- Businesses should start to accept that Selling and Negotiating are essential business skills and that they are both learned They should talk about these skills with pride and enthusiasm, and with the same level of focus they give to marketing and another other essential business skill.
- Sales and Negotiating should be conducted using humanised, trust-building principles and techniques. Not old-school trickery.
I welcome you to share with me what your business thinks about these essential business skills. Please connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliaewert-thenegotiator/.