Episode TwoHundredEighty

Education: Transforming the Perception of Sales

Guest: John Barrows

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About This Episode

How do you explain the sales profession to a kid to make them excited to choose a sales career? Because, done well, sales is one of the most influential and rewarding career choices that there is.

I recently had a chance to chat with my friend John Barrows, about sales education — for both sales professionals and kids.

John fell into sales with a marketing degree and cut his sales teeth selling copiers to government clients.

“I consider myself a sales rep who happens to train — not a trainer, because I don’t believe you can just be a talking head in this world. I believe you gotta do it in order to really respect it and understand it,” John said.

Let’s get right into the conversation!

Trends in sales training

The predictable revenue model in sales is dying, and it’s about time. We need to stop segmenting SDR, BDR, and CSM and return to the full cycle sales where SDRs are all the roles in one.

According to John, SDRs will fall under marketing and operations and use ABM to target personalization, while inside sales will bring in the customer success component to their role.

“We have to help people use the product — not sell them, but help them figure out how to use it and where it fits,” John said.

Education: transforming the view of sales

To transform our view of sales as something for professionals to choose rather than to stumble into, it’s going to mean ending the stereotype of a salesman as a sleazebag.

It’s going to start by overcoming that stigma at a much younger age.

  • Movies that depict sales professionals as people of integrity
  • Bring your seller parent to school day or community profiles for elementary kids
  • Explaining what a sales career actually is in comprehensible terms
  • Widespread acknowledgement that many roles outside of “sales” are still sales roles
  • Salespeople who are vocal about how they help others

“I literally don’t sell you anything. I help you achieve your goals or solve your problems,” John said.

It’s the mental shift from forcing products on people to becoming a problem-solver that will help to transform the perception of sales.

Believe in what you sell

A major component of changing the perception of sales is for salespeople to seek roles that they believe in.

For John, he didn’t love copiers per se, but he did genuinely believe that Xerox was the best copier in the industry, and he brought that belief to his work.

“If you do not believe in what you sell, don’t go find something else to do, go find something else to sell. Sales, I genuinely believe, is the transfer of enthusiasm,” John said.

If you’re struggling in your role right now, go learn about how your company truly makes a difference so that you can become enthusiastic. If that doesn’t work, search for a spot where that difference is more apparent or aligns more closely with your personal belief.

“Sales is the greatest profession in the world when done right. It’s the worst when done wrong,” John said.

Sellers as future CEOs

Another aspect of the perception of sales that needs to shift is that sellers are building skills that are widely applicable in just about every other profession.

They learn about operations, finance, legal, marketing, how to deal with executives, how to create connections with clients, and many, many other parts of an organization.

“We have to learn a little bit about every role in an organization, and we end up being the quarterbacks of all those roles. And so who’s better positioned to be the CEO of a company than a sales professional who spent their lives figuring that out?” John said.

That’s why sales rewards passion and hard work so well: the curious thrive.

I want to become a seller

Most people don’t view sales as one of the most future proof careers they can choose — but it is!

John wrote a kids book about why sales is an exciting career to start to compete with doctors, lawyers, and firefighters as enticing career choices.

“If we reframe the conversation about what sales actually is, then we can start educating and showing examples to people,” he said.

John explained what sales was to his daughter by using ordinary materials. Someone had to sell someone else the materials to make this cup we are drinking out of right now. We need this cup and we like using it. Bingo!

John also named Girl Scouts as a great sales experience that teaches sales skills and positivity toward setting and achieving financial goals.

John’s parting wisdom

  1. Believe in what you do — it’ll be a lot more rewarding
  2. Be goal-driven — write down your goals to direct your own path
  3. Try to get better every day — live by the mentality of the rule of 1%

Connect with John at jbarrows.com or on Instagram @johnmbarrows.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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