Mention “selling” or “sales” to most people, and death seems like a more attractive alternative. Yet, the ability to sell—if not the most important skill a person needs to succeed—is certainly in the top three.
Sales is the activity that breathes life into any economy, business, or venture. Take away sales and you have nothing. Yet the fear and loathing around selling results in more personal and business failures than any other single factor.
After a recent event at which I presented, one of the participants wrote me a scathing email about the fact that I promoted (made available to sell) products during the program. She said it was unethical to sell, promote, or market anything at an event and that she was going to report me to her association.
Wow! Obviously selling had hit an emotional cord with her. But get this—my event was about “How to Succeed in Marketing” and “Selling Yourself and Your Business.” Oops! Perhaps she thought she was attending another program.
It doesn’t matter what position, role, or level of responsibility you have in your profession and in your life; you are involved in selling, whether or not you believe it. Every day, you are selling—and people are selling to you. The problem is, many people have a misguided notion about sales. It’s much more prevalent than you might think. For example:
- The doctor sells you on his/her recommended treatment.
- You sell yourself in a job interview.
- You sell yourself to your boss when you ask for a promotion or raise.
- You are essentially selling when you ask someone on a date or to marry you.
- Your kids are regularly trying to sell you on the latest, greatest toy or gadget.
- The politician sells you his/her platform to get your vote.
- Your significant other sells to you about when/where he or she wants to go on a holiday.
Whether you like it or not, LIFE is all about selling.
At a recent seminar on business and financial success, one of the participants asked the speaker, “What if I don’t have the ‘gift of the gab’ and I can’t sell?” The speaker’s response? “You’re screwed!” That might sound harsh, but he was right. There’s no replacement for,or alternative to, the skill of selling—unless, of course, it’s not important to you to achieve your goals or dreams.
There’s simply not enough space in this article to impart sales skills training. I will, however, outline where you need to start.First, if you have an aversion to sales, selling, and sales professionals, you need to find a way to liberate that belief system.
Unfortunately, many individuals associate “sales” with some sleazy, high-pressure salesperson they have met. After my own successful sales career and as a sales trainer to the auto industry for more than a decade, I understand that some sales professions have poor reputations.
Regrettably, some sales trainers still teach “101 ways to close the sale” and “How to deal with objections.” But the yare completely out of touch with what sales is all about! They are repeating crusty, outdated material from the 1950s.
Please don’t buy into that garbage. Today’s sales professionals are a whole new breed. Our research shows that the top sales reps are, in fact, excellent listeners—not smooth talkers.
Selling does not determine your character, values, or ethics. It is simply a skill set blended with confidence and emotions. It is critical to understand that as you go forward. Sales skills and the character/ethics of the individual who deploys them are two separate entities.
True sales success is always about building a relationship between/among parties where the interaction results in mutual benefits.
If you are one of many who loathe everything about selling, your journey will include overcoming that negative mindset. Until you alter your attitude, your success will be limited. If you are an entrepreneur, that state of mind will be disastrous for you!
In the end, the skill of selling is critical to your success. Don’t let anyone—especially you—say it isn’t!
If You Can’t Sell, You Can’t Succeed! Follow These Action Steps:
- Acknowledge the fact that selling (influencing others) is one of the most important skills you can acquire and deploy to be successful in all parts of your life.
- Analyze your attitude toward sales, sales promotion, and sales professionals.
- Ask yourself if you love selling. If not, why not? Document your concerns in writing.
- Determine what negative issues (if any) you need to overcome to make sales a priority and acceptable to you.
- Forget what the naysayers think or say about sales. They likely are not successful, especially in business.
- Avoid any sales training or advice that suggests you must be dishonest to succeed. The art of selling does not mean “selling your soul” and conducting yourself in an unethical manner. In fact, it is just the opposite.
- Love what you do and be passionate about what you are promoting, or you won’t experience success. If you don’t believe in what you are promoting, no one will.
- Build your sales skills and confidence; complete CRG’s Sales Style Indicator and Self-Worth Inventory.
- Link yourself with successful individuals who have high selling skills and who share your values and ethics.
- Commit to enhancing and improving your selling skills, no matter your current level of skill or responsibility.
- Remember: Sales is about helping others and helping yourself, too. Recognize the honor in that.