03/02/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Sales People Create Economies

Economies do not exist until somebody buys something! And economies cease to exist when a sale is not made. Management then decides "customers aren't buying anything so let's just cut heads, slash budgets, hunker down and shrink our way to greatness!"

Prospecting, Interviewing customers to properly identify problems and opportunities and then collaborating with them to find appropriate solutions seems to be a skill set lost to an entire generation. How did this happen?

Two major shifts drove this change. In the 50's, 60's and 70's, virtually every company had a sales force that were required and depended on things like; prospecting- the creation of customers, product knowledge, application knowledge and selling skills. Great companies were built on great sales teams who were responsible for creating opportunities not for just selling them. The sales team was the engine, leading the charge, driving the revenues of the company! In the 90's sales teams were deemed to expensive to maintain, inefficient, difficult to manage and the responsibility for driving revenues shifted to the marketing department. The theory was that the company could create demand for products and services through advertising, promotion and gimmicks then the company could merely harvest the flood of incoming orders with call centers or order desks. The second major shift currently taking place is from traditional marketing to internet marketing.

But, what happens when customers stop looking and searching the net and the phone stops ringing? Because selling is a lost art the solutions are limited to -- increase the advertising, make even bigger claims of the importance of customer satisfaction, lower prices (again) and increase gimmicks like no money down, rebates, zero percent interest and free trips. Companies started spending more money on ad campaigns and Google search then the entire sales force makes in salaries and commissions. While these marketing shifts created breakthroughs in the ability to reach greater numbers of potential customers, the fact is it failed! You don't have to look far to see the corpses of companies who relied on marketing and disregarded the sales team; Circuit City, Heard Automotive, Dillards, Sears, Washington Mutual, Wachovia and Merrill Lynch. These companies failed because of their dependence upon their marketing campaigns and their inability to sell their products! Marketing without a trained sales team is a "one way" vehicle, causing the company to only activate at the point of marketing and then become passive at the point of creating an opportunity or even closing on those created.

These marketing methods virtually eliminated management's expectation of the sales team and their abilities. This is a critical problem in a recession, maybe event the cause of it, whereby the customers stop looking for new products and services, and therefore are immune to the wiles of marketing and promotion. The consumers' focus in now also on cutting expenses and unless your product or service can help them save money without any investment, they simply won't pay attention. Search engine optimization is useless when potential customers stop searching.

Companies must return to the creation of true sales skills and sales teams because without them nothing happens! Management, marketing and customer satisfaction does not sell product. Sales people sell products and you must have effectively trained salespeople that can (1) generate a prospect and (2) know how to determine what is needed, (3) how your product or service can satisfy that need and (4) how to justify a purchase decision. The lost art of real salesmanship must be restored in order to create the revenue a company desires.

A well trained sales team, not management, not the internet, not customer satisfaction and not marketing is the only thing that can cost effectively create customers in this economy. Economies exist only when someone finds a prospect and then sells that prospect a product or service at which point they exchange money with your company. Sales people drive entire economies and without them we have no economy.

Grant Cardone, Author of Sell to Survive