EVERYONE IS SELLING EVERY DAY
I am NOT a Salesperson
Mention the word 'sales' to someone who isn't a professional salesperson or one who does not make their living directly by selling, and watch the fireworks. Many people visibly recoil at the idea that they, like all of us are selling every day. They resent and resist the suggestion, arguing from every angle that they do not and have never engaged in 'sales.'
I get it. First off, the very concept of selling is just plain scary to many. To them, 'sales' is too pushy and will result in people not liking them. Not to mention that some may say no - that possible 'rejection' is quite likely the most feared.
And then there is the picture one has in their mind about what a salesperson is. They may even think of salespeople they know or have encountered. Let's face facts; a lot of so-called 'sales practices' we experience are nothing more than manipulation and deceit, aggression and intimidation or hard sell pressure tactics. Whether we are conscious of it or not, most of us simply don't like how products or services are being sold to us.
Shifting the Paradigm
Let's look at 'sales' from a different perspective for a moment. Try thinking about it like this: Selling is influencing the hearts and minds of others in attempt to help them choose. This does not require persuading or pushing, and it definitely does not require manipulation. The true nature of the approach, if it's done the right way, does not even involve convincing anyone of anything.
Here's the kicker - you do this now and you always have, in fact we all do. It's fair to say that some do this more effectively than others, but we all interact with an objective of influencing outcomes. Every single day we communicate with those in our life, whether it is our co-workers, friends, family members or maybe even customers if your role involves that. Knowingly or unknowingly, we always have a picture in our mind of how we wish to be perceived by those we interact with and often how we would like things to go as a result of those conversations. This starts when we're young and it continues to this day, no exceptions. If you have children, you will often see that principle in action. I certainly do with my own kids.
Yes indeed, we are all 'salespeople' and we always were. Are you beginning to see how we all 'sell?' Now the real question becomes only how you are currently going about it? Don't get hung up on the label 'salesperson.' Think about developing your ability to influence the hearts and minds of others to help them choose.
What is Selling really about?
You may at some time have heard the maxim that we 'sell ourselves' but what does that really mean? The very first place to start will surprise you but it's an important question for you to consider. What exactly are you selling yourself? Does your self-talk make you feel empowered or powerless? Does it generally make your life better or worse? Do you feel purpose? Self-talk is communication - it is a sales job. I will not belabor the point here, I have written extensively on the subject in other writings. I only hope that you will give it some thought and reflect upon the concept. Once you have sold yourself on you and your personal reasons for living, then you will surely find that it feels natural and yes, even enjoyable when you are 'selling' to others.
Selling should be what you do for people, not to people
Now let's explore the important subjects of choice and influence in the selling process. Influencing the hearts and minds of others to help them choose is closely related to personal leadership. That starts with respecting the right of others to choose for them. People have not only the right but also the responsibility to make the choices that they believe are right for them. Any relationship that involves one person choosing for another, regardless of good intentions, will ultimately suffer. On the other hand, choosing can be difficult. We have the opportunity at times to help people with their burden of conflict when they are unsure of the choices or various options that are in front of them. Your selling role in these situations is to provide them with the benefit of what you may know and what you may have experienced. Throughout this process, you must always listen carefully to understand their situation and/or their needs. Only then can you make a recommendation that influences them to make a choice that they believe will serve them well. They trust your recommendation. That is what I mean by personal leadership. You never make it about what is good for you but always what is good for them.
Do you remember when the department store Santa poinys out and sends shoppers off to a competitor's store for toys that his store does not carry in the movie "Miracle on 34th Street?" The manager is furious and fires Santa. But then he does an instant about face when delighted customers who hear about it pack the aisles. The owner commends the manager for his brilliant marketing, Santa gets his job back, and a store 'policy' of putting the needs of their customers first is officially established!
Enthusiasm and Conviction
That is precisely the type of thing that always happens when you are helping people to choose with understanding, integrity and respect. Now this is not to say that your personal enthusiasm and conviction about the products and/or services your company offers is not helpful to the selling process, it certainly is. They are positive qualities, I personally enjoy the company of those who express enthusiasm and belief in what they are doing.
It is only when our strong belief becomes a mandate for others that the line of respect is crossed. When your conviction about anything must become the conviction for others, all opportunity for establishing personal trust and credibility and to effectively influence their hearts and minds to help them choose is lost.
This is true in every business but it is also true in our personal lives. Just think for a moment about a time when someone tried to convince you to make a particular choice about something or maybe convince you of a particular point of view. They did it with lots of enthusiasm and an earnest conviction. Perhaps they even expressed a personal concern for what would be 'best for you.' How did it make you feel? If it was someone you know quite well, maybe it was a respectful and open discussion that resulted in you both 'agreeing to disagree' or maybe not. If it was a stranger or someone who you really didn't know well, chances are that you may have felt somewhat disrespected or offended.
The point I am making is simply this - we must not only respect the right of others to think and make choices for themselves, but as Stephen Covey puts it so well - we must seek first to understand, then to be understood.
I leave you with this thought. I have put forward some ideas for you to consider, but you alone own the choices that you will make regarding those ideas. I believe that you and I and all of us are in the business of making a difference in the lives of people. And yes, I believe that we are all engaged in 'selling' and that making connections based on trust, transparency and respect allow us to do it well. Whether you specifically earn a living in sales or not, I encourage you to never hide your talents and capabilities from others. You are unique, special and in fact you are irreplaceable. That doesn't mean someone else can't do your job, it simply means that no other person can contribute and make the personal difference that you do. There is not another you in the world and that should be celebrated. Always remember it for yourself, but also remind yourself that it is true for every person you interact with. Respect and honor their unique perspectives, and you are thereby respecting and honoring your own gifts.
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