Sales is the classic market division practice specialty of the firm. The Sales department is typically grouped with the Marketing department in smaller firms, but these two usually split as firms grow. We have grouped Sales & Marketing as one of the twenty specialties in the Guide, but it is important to recognize that they are different subspecialties, and often attract different personalities.
Top Sales specialists have some overlap with Entrepreneurship, as both must be good communicators and persuaders, and thrive under high-risk, high-reward incentive structures, where they have high personal freedom and pressure to perform. Good hires in the Sales department are often strong in the Influence and Execution cluster of skills.
In the data deluge of the modern world, customer relationship management (CRM) software has become a virtual requirement for many firms. com is a CRM leader. It is worth noting that the Salesforce.com Foundation offers a free full-featured ten-seat user license to virtually all nonprofits who apply for one, a $15,000/year gift worth sharing with your nonprofit leader friends. The eminent futurist Peter Schwartz now works at Salesforce, in government relations and strategic planning.
There are also free and low-cost open source CRM platforms today, such as SugarCRM. Sales requires cognitive and emotional strengths that many futurists lack (“Woo” is one of the classic sales strengths, in the StrengthsFinder terminology (Chapter 10)). There are also many emerging software tools in the sales space, such as LevelEleven’s Compete, a sales gamification platform that works with Salesforce.com CRM software.
Good primers for better understanding and managing this department include Dan Pink’s To Sell is Human (2012), and Robert Miller’s The New Strategic Selling and The New Conceptual Selling (2005). The latter is particularly helpful for personalization and face-to-face meetings, where the sale to large accounts seeks to engage each customer’s unique needs, wants, and visions for the future. For nonprofits, Selling Social Change (2002) outlines successful fundraising and earned income strategies.
As social media and CRM systems grow in sophistication, increasingly segmented and even individualized advertising and sales process engineering strategies, using mass customization and personalized marketing are becoming one of the new frontiers of sales. Another is acquisition of new customers in emerging nations, with efficient, low cost products and services. For a good account of the latter, though its thesis was a bit overoptimistic for the time, see C.K. Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (2006).