Why business-to-business sellers are crucial for Covid-19 recovery
Mark Pawsey MP is chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Professional Sales and a former sales leader. He also sits on the influential Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee - a select committee of the House of Commons.
His foreword to a new parliamentary report, published on Tuesday 9 March 2021, calls for action to support the sales profession to boost the UK?s recovery, jobs and skills .
You can read the full report here: Supercharging Sales: Investing in B2B selling for jobs and growth
Mark writes... As a business-to-business salesman I spent years driving the motorways of Britain to talk to clients and understand their needs, and as a B2B manager I helped my sales team to win business and drive prosperity.
So it's with the benefit of personal experience that I can assure you that the UK wouldn?t function without B2B selling, which is a huge part of the economy. Since I left the profession, the job has only become more demanding - requiring deep product knowledge but always with a high need for customer insight, empathy, communication, collaboration, strategy and critical thinking.
I was a founder member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Professional Sales, and our first inquiry in 2019 looked at why so many SMEs were underperforming at this essential business activity. We highlighted too little B2B sales knowhow and slowness in taking on new technology. Snobbery about selling was another problem, stopping good recruits coming into the profession.
If we fixed these problems the economy would enjoy significant growth in productivity. Here's what we said in 2019, and every word rings truer today: ?Our report identifies a critical shortage of professional salespeople that affects every business, but SMEs in particular. It also highlights a negative attitude in Britain towards selling that is holding the economy back. The government needs to intervene to close the skills gap, and to promote a more business-like attitude towards selling.?
Several months after our report was published, Covid-19 arrived and caused a revolution in the way we sell, on top of a deep recession. So this, our second inquiry, looks at the changes caused by the pandemic, and the lessons we need to learn. Can good, ethical, professional B2B selling help tackle the huge challenges the economy now faces?
Many thanks to the expert contributors from business and academia whose views are quoted throughout. Our findings are that SME owners need to learn to sell in a new way. Many have only started adopting digital technology and are being held back by a lack of business-to-business selling skills. B2B salespeople need to be upskilled, and more need to be trained. We say that the government must intervene to help, as the recession has left many SMEs too weak to do it alone.
If we turn round attitudes, and if we upskill our workforce, then B2B selling will be a major force to power the UK out of recession, creating jobs and building new markets overseas. Let?s get selling!
About the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Professional Sales
The APPG for Professional Sales is supported by the Association of Professional Sales which provides its secretariat and research. The group was founded by APS fellow Stephen Kerr in 2018, when he was MP for Stirling. The APPG is now led by Mark Pawsey, the MP for Rugby, who also sits on the influential Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee - a select committee of the House of Commons.