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Faculty Insights

We’re All in “Non-Sales?”

By Charles West

January 27, 2014

In my last two blog posts, I discussed two major changes to the sales profession: the Internet taking over 60% of all sales, and the dramatic reduction of people employed in sales—from 15 million today to 4 million by 2020. Daniel Pink recently published a sales book, “To Sell Is Human,” in which he adds an interesting new dimension to the fast-changing landscape of sales: “The Rise of Non-Sales Selling.” He cites two main findings from a Gallup poll: “People are now spending 40 percent of their time at work engaged in ‘non-sales selling’ activities” and “People consider this aspect of their work crucial to their professional success.”
So the third major change in the sales landscape is you and me spending 40% of our time doing “non-sales selling.”
What is “non-sales selling?” It is any activity that has the potential to directly or indirectly influence client satisfaction and the customer’s perception of our offerings. It could be as indirect as writing this blog or as direct as returning a call to a sales representative with vital client information.
There’s not much information available at this time about how this new sales reality will be managed. After Daniel Pink points it out, he unfortunately does not pursue the subject.
It is clear to me that organizations will be looking at this new sales reality trying to find the best way to manage it and positively impact their customers and ultimately, revenue.  The starting point—call it Phase One—will be the identification of current, specific “non-sales selling” activities, who’s doing them, how well they are being performed, and how they are impacting our clients and potential customers. Proceeding to Phase Two, companies will search for unintended and unknown customer impact points that are going unmanaged.   Phase Three will be the most important phase: a company-wide review of job priorities, communications patterns, interdepartmental cooperation, and organizational structure. This last phase will be the most difficult and complex, but it will also yield that greatest organizational benefit and increased customer focus.
Healthy forward-leaning organizations will embrace the new sales reality and improve their overall effectiveness. What’s old is new again. As Peter Drucker said, “There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer.”