Everyone sells. Everyone leads. Everyone connects. These are inevitable truths, but we try to dodge them. People deny that they need to know how to sell, that they lead others whether they like it or not, and that they need connections. Not everyone denies all three of these truths.
Professional sellers often have an aversion to thinking of themselves as leaders. These are the lone wolf types who don’t want to move into management, who are perfectly content to work autonomously. Oftentimes, these types are the superstars of their teams… That’s why they are viewed as leaders. But they don’t wear the label willingly. They resist invitations to mentor others, to share best practices, to go on sales calls with the new reps, and so on. If you don’t see yourself as a leader or don’t want others to see you that way, be sure to read this week’s CONNECT! Blog "Everybody Leads".
People in most non-selling professions refuse to think of their work as selling. Some sellers even do this, adopting job titles meant to mask the fact that their job is to sell. Instead of “sales reps,” they are “customer consultants” or “solutions providers.” There are so many negative stereotypes attached to the noble profession of selling that it’s no wonder people disassociate themselves. But the fact is, like it or not and regardless of what you call it, everyone sells.
There’s no shame in selling. Every person sells something every day. We sell ideas. We sell compromises. We sell every time we want someone else to do something for us. We sell our own agendas. We sell our children on the need to do their homework. We sell our friends on the movie or play we want to see. We sell our soul mates on the merits of spending their lives with us. It’s all selling, and it’s unavoidable. You can’t survive if you don’t sell.
We do have other words we use – influence, persuade, entice, advise, woo, prompt, allure, convince, coax, enlist – you can put all sorts of spin on it. But the motivation is the same. You are selling.
If we’re all doing it, wouldn’t it make sense to learn more about it? To take away the mystique and the negative associations? To embrace selling?
That’s easier said than done. Where do you go if you want to learn how to be more effective in selling (influencing, persuading, enticing...)? Most sales professionals who get trained at all only get trained when their company sponsors a workshop or sends them to a program. Few seek their own resources. People outside the profession seldom consider the need for sales training (after all, they’d reason, I don’t sell!).
Selling isn’t taught in school. Classes and clubs like Debate, Junior Achievement and DECA offer some practical experience in the skills needed. Most fundraisers, unfortunately, feed the misconceptions about selling. The whole premise of fundraising puts the emphasis on helping the seller instead of meeting the needs of the buyers.
Selling isn’t taught in most colleges. There are some relatively new programs in some universities, but these are primarily attended by people who know (and are willing to declare) they will make a career in the noble profession of selling.
What if selling were a required course? For that matter, what if buying were a required course, too? After all, that’s also something we all do and many are uncomfortable with it – that’s why predatory sellers win so many “negotiations” and leave buyers feeling remorseful after a purchase.
Alternately, what if we just embraced the fact that everyone sells? Then more people would develop skills related to selling (and buying). There would be courses for everyone, resources for everyone and an acceptance by everyone that this was a good life skill. It would be like driving a car – we’d make the effort because we’d see the benefit and embrace the challenge.