Bridging the gulf between professors and practitioners
7th April 2015 | Neil Rackham
As sales continues to develop at breakneck pace, business and academics need to open channels of communication.
For well over a century, there have been organised attempts to increase sales professionalism. The case for doing so is nowhere more engagingly expressed than in an editorial appearing in 1884 in the magazine of the Society of Commercial Travelers: “If we do not strive for the professional respect accorded to other occupations of substance and worth, then the world shall judge us no better than peddlers and rogues.”
In the intervening century there have been many attempts to elevate sales into a profession of “substance and worth”. Most of the earlier efforts focused on improving moral character, as all professions must be underpinned by an ethical code. The Order of United Commercial Travelers, for example, was founded to “improve character and instill temperate habits”. And, here’s an interesting piece of trivia, the Gideons, of hotel bible fame, were founded to “eliminate, gambling, drinking, dirty jokes, Sunday trading and other forms of temptation peculiar to traveling (sales)men1.”