Selling belongs to everyone
Tiistai 24.2.2015 - Heidi Kock
I’ve been working in various sales management positions for over 20 years, and three years ago I decided to take a leap into the academic world. Due to my past experience, I was very familiar with the sales challenges companies were facing. I must say, it took me a bit by surprise at how little academic research there was on some of the sales topics I found utterly critical in business life.
As sales has become more and more demanding during the past years due to the transformation of buying and selling, I’ve witnessed how vital it is for companies to have employees who are capable of selling. I do not mean only salespeople, even though they form the backbone of a company’s sales function. I mean all the people involved in selling including (but not limited to) technical consultants and support, customer service, and maintenance, all the people who either directly encounter customers or have a supporting role within the company. In my mind, they are salespeople too. In our Mania research project, the importance of this area has become quite evident. My interest lies especially in how the whole organization can be active in selling, and how to aid companies to develop their sales function accordingly. That is the topic of my doctorate thesis, as well.
In sales, I think combining the practioners’ and academics’ viewpoints is a good way to provide research that makes a difference for the business world, as well as making an academic contribution. Our research team is a good example of this. Getting the best out of both worlds will definitely help create something novel and different, and, more importantly, impactful.
The companies in Finland have been very open and generous towards our project. Company representatives are willing to give interviews, and even allow video recordings on authentic sales meetings. So far, we have collected an impressive amount of data, 100+ seller and buyer interviews and 20+ video recordings on authentic sales meetings between buyers and sellers. This makes it possible to ask and analyze matters more deeply instead of making generalizations based on quantitative (questionnaire) data collection. At this point I feel as if I were sitting on a pile of gold.
As an academic researcher, this is a learning process for me, one more reason this is even more interesting. Thanks to my highly competent academic colleagues, I have gotten the kind of coaching, mentoring and practical advice that makes me want to sell the concept of practitioner/academic collaboration to Finnish universities.
Our research project will be completed by the end of this year. We have currently started to analyze the data, and we have already written several scientific articles to be published in conferences. By the end, we will publish more findings in academic journals, as well as develop sales tools for companies. Hopefully, one piece of that will be to spread the sales culture further throughout businesses.
Selling belongs to everyone. Spread the word.
Researcher, lecturer, sales practitioner