Is Sales Your Life or Is It Just a Job for You?
Professionals take so much pride in the work they do that it becomes their identity. Physicians say “I am a doctor” and add “Dr.” before the rest of their names. You can fill in the blank “I am _____” with many titles like “an attorney,” “an accountant,” “a mail carrier,” or “a teacher” for example.
So why is that sales professionals resist the label? Do you say, with pride, “I am a sales rep” or “I am a professional seller”? If so, thank you for dignifying our profession with your pride.
But most sellers don’t. When asked what they do, they give convoluted answers about how they serve customers or work as consultants or provide solutions. They shy away from the word “sales” as if it is an admission of some secret shame.
The problem is not one of semantics alone. It goes much deeper. Sellers have a tendency to compartmentalize their lives, to adopt one persona with buyers and then act completely different when not in sales mode. Why?
You’ve probably seen it happen. There’s a transformation that occurs when a person who sells segues from the rapport-building part of a meeting to the selling part of the meeting. Or maybe you’ve seen it when a customer enters the scene and there’s a change – sometimes subtle, sometimes downright disturbing – in the way a seller acts.
The performance looks and feels as artificial as it is. Buyers notice. They are not comfortable with sellers who do this because it is off-putting. No one wants to engage with someone who is putting on an act.
So why do sellers do this? When I ask them, they tell me it’s because they think they’re supposed to act a certain way. They’ve seen it modeled. They buy into the stereotypes. They may even have been coached. So they genuinely believe that becoming ingratiating, sycophantic, arrogant or over-the-top enthusiastic is what will make them successful.
When sellers set their own personalities aside and try to be something they’re not, it hinders their ability to establish trust and form relationships with buyers. Worse yet, it causes sellers to be uncomfortable in their own skin.
So it’s no wonder that people don’t identify themselves with a sales title. They don’t even see themselves in a sales role. Instead, they see selling as a thing they do and keep it separate from who they are. Maybe that’s why the negative stereotypes and lingering suspicions about sellers abound.