Are you a salesperson?
Do you view yourself as a salesperson? I would suggest you probably should. Let’s start with the definition of sales.
The exchange of a good or service for money; the action of selling something.
If you earn a living in one way shape or form than whether you are self employed or employed by someone else, the end goal is to exchange a good or service for money. So the bottom line is if you want to receive a paycheque you or your organization needs to ‘sell’ something.
So let’s also talk about what sales is NOT.
- It is not about convincing you to buy a product or service you do not want or need.
- It is not about pressuring you into buying something you do not want or need
- and it most certainly is not about guilting you into buying something you do not want or need.
I’m sure you can find many ways to expand the list above, but pretending that we do not need to ‘sell’ anything is counter productive in my opinion. I understand that people do not want to be ‘sold’ (except for me, I LOVE being sold and will grade you on your ability) so call it what you like but the end result needs to be the same in order to sustain a viable economy.
It therefore makes sense that individuals who have a greater ability to assist themselves or their organisations to ‘sell’ more of their product or service are ultimately more valuable to the organization and usually compensated accordingly. Again, to be clear I am not suggesting that when someone walks into your office or place of business that they should be swarmed and pressured to buy your product or service.
Selling is about identifying a need your customer may have and subsequently demonstrating/persuading/convincing them that you or your organization is the best option for them to fill that need. One of the greatest skills any ‘salesperson’ can have is the ability to quickly identify when you can’t fill a need. There have been many times when a customer has come to me for professional assistance where I have ascertained that I or my company is NOT in the best position to assist. The beautiful thing about that is that by pointing them in the right direction, even though I did not ‘get the sale’, I now have another advocate, someone who will most certainly recommend me to any of their family or friends who may need my service.
Who do people buy from? People buy from people they know, like and trust. I would put the most emphasis on the last one, trust. That being the case shouldn’t we encourage everyone in our organization to put forward their best foot so that our customers like dealing with them and make sure we continue to demonstrate our skill looking out for the customers best interest, even if not our own, so that they will trust us more and more each time we interact.
If you are NOT financially independent and DO still need to earn a living, I would suggest that regardless of your position, role or title, the better a salesperson you are the more handsomely you will be rewarded. No matter the organization, no matter the department, production, distribution, sales or marketing, the more you believe that everyone in the organization plays a role in the sales process the more successful your organization will be.
Michael – overal, there is a lot here I’d agree with, at least in theory. In practice, I don’t think the adage of “people buy from people they know, like and trust” is as much of a truism as the gurus would make one assume. I think that depending on a specific product or service, people are just as likely, if not more so, to buy from those they don’t like, so long as the person/company is known as more competent or less expensive or (usually) a combination of all of the above. Would you rather you “like” your attorney because he is a nice guy and a friend of yours or hire one who is a total schmuck but will likely win your case and you’ll never see or hear from him again?
Thanks Inna, that is why I put the emphasis on ‘Trust’. You need the whole package. If I don’t ‘Trust’ that you are competent than you are correct I will not buy from you. All things being equal on a competency level I am going to buy from the one I ‘Like’ more.
You are right that I think we have to be careful getting sucked into trite, easy expressions like “people buy from people they know like and trust” without a full understanding of the statement.
I think it is more dangerous when sales and marketing gurus make statements such as “It’s not a relationship business” or “It’s not a sales profession”. It really opens the risk of people taking statements out of context and misconstruing them. In my organization I want everyone to believe themselves part of the sales process. Doesn’t matter how good I am at my job if my receptionist is rude to you and doesn’t pass on messages you won’t be buying my service.
I guess my point is rather than making those kind of statements lets focus on teaching professionals HOW to create appropriate relationships and HOW to be effective salespeople.
Michael – and from my perspective, I think much more of an emphasis should be on building great products or providing remarkable service, and creating organizations and environments where people strive to strive for brilliant transactions. I think far too much emphasis has already been placed on selling the service (or product) and no where near enough on the actual service or product itself. 🙂
Great article Mike. I’ve actually been thinking about this topic a lot lately, more so from the point of view of a consumer. What qualities do I possess that would warrant a consumer to “trust” me? What makes my service better than anyone else? Again, in a profession where all things are equal what differentiates me from Joe blow down the corner. I believe knowledge goes a long way as I prefer to buy from someone who knows what they are talking about but there has got to be so many other attributes that make up a GREAT salesman. As I write this, I’m wondering if there is a discussion topic brewing on what qualities are important to others in order to gain trust from a consumer.