Well the question is now closed and we have a number of opinions to sort through. A number of people allowed me to quote them while some did not. So some will get credit and quoted while others will be paraphrased and remain anonymous.
One of the most common themes that came out in the discussion was that while leaders often have the ability to sell yet the reverse is not commonly the case. Certainly there are sales professionals that have leadership skill and ability but this simply is not the norm in the experience of our sample. In my first discussion on this question what stood out was the point of influence. I believe persuasion and influence to be close cousins. I checked out the dictionary and found influence to be: to have an effect on someone while persuasion was: the act of influencing the mind of another by arguments or reasons offered.
I share this because while my question was asking whether the influence of a leader is similar to the persuasion of a sales professional more than one respondent passionately told me that they are not the same leaders and sales people are different and to compare them is simplistic and superficial. I was left to wonder whether they had really read the question in the first place. They seemed so caught up in making sure I knew they were not the same that they seemed to imply that the real question asked was not the case.
Here was the question:
Aren’t sales and leadership really the same thing? I have been thinking about the role of influence in leadership lately and considering how it relates to sales professionals and their ability to persuade. What do you think, are they similar?
I feel that dumbfounded blank stare coming back out…
So most leaders can sell yet not all sales professionals can lead. Makes sense.