Sales is a war of attrition: You win some, and you lose some. In a recent interview, Mr. Charles Downs discusses the importance of business communication to navigate a tumultuous sales world. A sales representative with over 30 years of experience, Mr. Downs provides a unique perspective on business communication, as well as what employers look for in an employee. He likewise provides insight into what he believes are the important skills and habits that mold good business communicators.
What is your professional history (include your timeline and roles)?
“From 1980 to 1995 I worked for River City Electric Supply. I started in the warehouse, but was quickly moved into a sales role. Starting in ’82 I started working in sales, and the last 9 years at River City I was the inside salesperson for the state of Kentucky. In 1995 I took a new position with Control Specialists, Inc. I started as the warehouse manager, where my responsibilities also included counter sales. From 2000 until now, I have worked inside sales for the state of Indiana, where my responsibilities also included inventory control and purchasing.”
What writing advice do you have for professional communicators?
“You definitely need to be prepared for the subject that you are writing about, in terms of having all necessary information related to the topic. As well as any data for backup or to reference to, such as sales figures etc.”
What is your one pet peeve when it comes to professional writing?
“I cannot stand spelling errors. I know that sounds picky, but it seems as if most people do not take the time to review even for the simplest of mistakes.”
What kind of business reports do you read and/or compose regularly?
“On a regular basis I prepare monthly sales reports, weekly quote logs, and customer call reports.”
What are your writing suggestions to make those types of reports successful?
First and foremost make sure that you have the correct information. Make sure all of your data is accurate and up to date.
“You also need to make sure you do not have any spelling errors, and that any specific information, like phone numbers and dates, are correct.”
What speaking advice do you have for professional communicators?
“Make sure you are prepared on the subject specking about. It is easy to tell when someone has not prepared themselves for a speech or presentation. When delivering the speech stay focused, and speak clearly and loud enough for all to here.”
Name one thing you wish you had known about business communication prior to your professional career?
“Time management and preparation is key. Any tips or advice regarding that would have been helpful.”
After assessing the Burning Glass list of Baseline Skills (2016), which skills not in the top 5 would you move into the top 5…and why?
“The first one I would add in would be Microsoft Word and Office. Being in sales I use these programs every day, and being skilled and proficient in these is very beneficial. I would also add time management. It is very important to be able maintain your daily schedule.”
What team skills do you feel young professionals need the most?
Being a self-starter. Having the ambition and eagerness to learn and motivate yourself to improve and do well will take you very far.
“I would also say listening skills are essential. It seems so simple, but people that are willing to listen and take advice are people that I tend to see succeed more often.”
It is clear that Mr. Downs has extensive experience in sales, as well as strong communication skills. He emphasized the importance of focusing on the topic and considering the audience. He also went into detail on the types of reports that he creates and uses on a regular basis. He stated that having accurate data, and correct information, is necessary to developing professional business reports.
Mr. Downs stressed how important it is to prepare and manage your time. These skills transcend job titles. They are very important no matter the job, and are essential to an effective business communicator. Based off of his insight, college students should strive to be self-starters, with ambition and work ethic that is second to none. A little bit of listening will go a long way too.
Mr. Charles Downs Biography
Mr. Charles Downs grew up in Leitchfield, KY. Once he turned 18 he moved to Evansville, IN, where he entered the workforce immediately. He began working for River City Electric Supply, where he quickly moved into a sales role. In 1995, he began working for Control Specialists Inc., his current employer, as a member of the sales team. He has over 30 years of sales experience, which provides him with unique insight. His current roles, along with sales, include inventory control and purchasing.
Jake Downs is a senior at the University of Southern Indiana. He is currently working towards a bachelors degree in business management. While in school, Jake has worked multiple jobs across various fields, and is also a swim coach for multiple teams in the area. He plans to pursue a career in sales upon graduation.