Four Reasons OSH Professionals Must Be Better Salespeople
- Matt Law (W.W. Grainger Inc.)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- February 2020
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 28 - 31
- 2020. American Society of Safety Professionals
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 13 since 2007
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- Many OSH professionals possess the education and experience to perform the core functions of safety but lack expertise in an important skill in business: sales.
- Sales is a critical skill that must be learned, adapted and implemented into OSH professionals’ work to succeed.
- This article discusses making safety an influential conversation, communicating the value of safety, why compliance is not the best motivator and why OSH success is in someone else’s pocket.
Like many OSH professionals, the author came into this career path “by accident.” While most post-secondary studies were not directly focused on safety, health and the environment, the author was able to capitalize on favorite skills and experiences to achieve a noble goal: the potential to help a lot of people live better, healthier and safer lives. However, despite the ability to translate strengths into the core functions of an OSH professional and despite considering himself a technically minded philanthropist, the author has struggled with a skill that he believes turns expertise into action: sales.
Most OSH professionals probably did not seek out this career path to be business-minded salespeople. Indeed, sales may be as unattractive a role to some as safety is to others. Nevertheless, this critical skill must be learned, adapted and implemented into our work as OSH professionals for us to succeed. This article discusses:
•how to make safety an influential conversation;
•communicating the value of safety;
•why compliance is not the best motivator;
•why OSH success is in someone else’s pocket.
Safety within an organization does not happen without people, and this includes more than just OSH professionals. All parties within the organization must be engaged in the OSH process, including CEOs, board executives, first-line supervisors, hourly workers, and even accountants, project managers and other business function leaders. OSH professionals are subject-matter experts and they must learn to influence without authority by using effective communication skills, particularly in organizations where OSH professionals have limited ability to hold these individuals accountable (Dunlap, 2011).
Even community-based organizations and nonprofits are becoming increasingly aware that they must develop business acumen, grow strategic partnerships and reduce barriers through reciprocal learning to have increased success and drive initiatives (Tatangelo, 2018). The skills that an OSH professional needs to enact this influence are akin to those of a sales professional. If the goal is to gather buy-in, create strong safety cultures and implement real change in the workplace, these are the top reasons why OSH professionals must develop business acumen and communication skills, and become safety salespeople.
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