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    Why did I become interested in selling? (aka The Joy of Sales)

    Bob Apollo
    Post by Bob Apollo
    March 14, 2024
    Why did I become interested in selling? (aka The Joy of Sales)

    I have known Dave Brock for ages, and have always enjoyed both his insights and his company. He’s one of the most thoughtful and inspirational people in B2B sales. He recently had the brilliant idea of asking his many contacts to explain why they are so interested in in selling  - you can read more here:

    I thought you might find my response interesting...

    Dave’s preface:  Bob is one of the more thoughtful consultants I met. We “discovered” each other hanging out with some of the same people and sharing ideas. Whenever I went to London, we would grab a beer and solve the problems of the sales world. At one point I was headed out to Reading a lot, at the time Bob lived nearby and he would take me to great restaurants. Bob is one of the people I use as my informal “kitchen cabinet advisory board.” He’s a great friend and has such great insights. 

    (One side note, you will notice the tremendous number of “mis-spellings.” For example, he talks about “recognised,” we all know the correct spelling is recognized. Wandering London, he would suggest we take a “lift,” imagine my surprise when we stepped into an elevator. I always find it such a challenge with these English-people, if only they learned the right way to spell words, then maybe we might hope they would discover the right side of the road to drive on.. 😉

    It’s a great question: why did I become interested in selling - and why do I remain so interested in selling?

    I guess it all goes back to my first sales role - selling book club subscriptions door-to-door in a mostly middle-class suburb in North-West London as a summer holiday job. Working street-after-street, knocking on door-after-door, having conversations with people I had never met before and may never meet again. People who almost certainly didn’t wake up that morning wanting to be “sold to”.

    Being told to use a fixed script, and learning pretty quickly that it was better to have a conversation than delivering a pitch. To my surprise, I turned out to be quite good at it - good enough to be made a team leader within a few weeks. And to my lasting delight, I rather enjoyed it.

    After graduating from university with a business studies degree, I took up an office role with the UK’s largest energy company as one of hundreds of people who joined each year in their graduate placement scheme - and found that I hated it. I quickly jumped out of the corporate frying pan into the small business fire and found that a year selling and delivering parts door-to-door to motor accessory shops was teaching me more about business than my 4-year degree course ever could.

    The Joy of Sales

    I rediscovered the joy of selling (and the learned pain of getting customers to pay up on time), but I recognised that I’d rather be selling computers than spanners. I joined one of the many companies selling desk-sized office computers and did well enough to be promoted to manager. But something was missing - I felt the need to be properly trained, and I made the best decision of my career.

    I sought out Hewlett-Packard - at that time the exemplar of Silicon Valley tech culture, approached their local sales manager, and tried to persuade him that I could fit in. Thankfully he agreed - and the next ten years laid the foundation for my subsequent career. I learned skills and absorbed attitudes to doing good business that I have carried with me in everything I have subsequently done. I came to the conclusion that B2B selling was a blend of art (creativity), science (good data) and engineering (replicable processes).

    When I eventually left HP, it was to join a scale-up in a management role that offered me the chance to contribute to strategy and policy - and realised that the scale-up environment was my sweet spot. Pretty much everything I’ve done since then has been in that all-important space between early-stage start-ups and late-stage corporates.

    There is no one perfect sales methodology

    I’ve learned that there is no single perfect sales methodology. Over the years, I’ve creatively blended and borrowed from SPIN, Challenger, Sandler, and many different flavours of “solution” and “consultative” selling and contributed a few ideas of my own. I’ve realised that attitude and behaviour are as important as experience or skill when it comes to sales success.

    I’ve enjoyed seeing people with potential turn into great salespeople. I’ve been gratified by seeing customers achieve the business outcomes they were looking for from the solutions that I helped them to buy. And in working with clients, I’ve been delighted when I see them adopting principles and processes that lead to achieving their sales targets.

    I may have fallen into it by accident, but selling has proved to be a wonderful profession that continues to offer me learning opportunities - and the chance to work with some great people and organisations. It’s taken me around the world. I’m simply glad that I started the journey on the streets of North-West London!

    Bob Apollo
    Post by Bob Apollo
    March 14, 2024
    Bob Apollo is a Fellow of the Institute of Sales Professionals, a regular contributor to the International Journal of Sales Transformation and Top Sales World Magazine, and the driving force behind Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, the leading proponents of outcome-centric selling. Following a successful corporate career spanning start-ups, scale-ups and market leaders, Bob now works as a strategic advisor, mentor, trainer and coach to ambitious B2B sales organisations - teaching them how to differentiate themselves through their provably superior approach to achieving their customer's desired outcomes.