Seated at the dinner table the lady next to me ask the question “so what do you do?” and I reply “ I’m a salesman”. Most responses I get is along these lines…
“oh, how exciting, I could never be in sales, I think I am too honest and I am really bad at convincing people”
…or any more or less polite version of the above. Note the “too honest” and “really bad at convincing people” parts of the sentence.
Like the people I meet that state “Well, I am not really a salesperson, not with a capital ’S’”. What may come as a surprise is that a lot of these people are paid a salary for selling and have a titles like Key Account Manager or Senior Consultant. Not to mention all the self-employed people that insist they are not salespeople – they just love what they do.
The trade of being a salesperson seems to be associated with a lot of disassociating!
As if being a salesperson equals being less than too honest, having the ability to convince people or not loving what you do. To me, having to state that you are not a salesperson with a capital “S”, sounds less than nice. It sounds as something one would avoid.
Do you do sales with a capital “S”?
No, good heavens! I do sales with a lower-case “s”.
Even my wife once stated “I would break down if I were to be a salesperson”. Mind you, this is the love of my life, who married me fully aware that I make a living of being a salesman and educating people in sales and communication.
Why, why, why?!
How it is that sales has such a bad name? How it is that even professional salespeople try to distance themselves from the trade?
I believe it is the amateurs and the people who are looking for a quick fix and easy money, who have taken my trade, the trade of being a salesman, less than seriously.
It does look easy, right, you just talk to people, present a product, and get paid for it. You need not lift heavy things, get dirty or even (apparently) work odd hours. From a distance being a salesperson gives the impression that it is less than hard work. The people who give sales a bad name have no passion for sales. They have passion for other things also associated with sales: money, status, easy job or the like.
Oh, that’s why!
However, once you actually start working as a salesperson the reality is brutal. If you thought it would be easy, you very, very quickly realize that it is anything thing but easy. This is where most people either give up and annonce that they are “not a salesperson” (with or without a capital “S”) or start giving my trade a bad name.
They become “less than honest”. They start “convincing” customers. They start hating what they do and they start using all kinds of mental “tricks” and hidden manipulations to “win” the sale.
Once sales is turned to be about winning, and thereby the risk of losing, it becomes an ego game. It turns to be about the salesperson getting the sale. That is why sales has a bad name. We have all experienced “losing” to a (so-called) salesperson, and buying something for our hard earned money that we really did not need or want. We have all had “buyers remorse”. Most people who buy something they regret will blame the salesperson, and thereby sales in general.
What sales actually is!
When you look up “sales” in the dictionary, you will discover that it means “to take”. Originally the customer is taking the product or service. However over time it has become more a matter of the salesperson taking the money from the customer.
To me the trade of selling is about the customer choosing! Be it my product or not. As long as the customer takes a choice, my sales job is done. Sales is to help. Help the customer realize what the customer really wants and needs – even if it is something I am unable to provide. A salesperson must be focused more on the customer than on the product in the beginning of the sales process.
Once the customer and the salesperson have established what the needs and wants are, sales is about presenting the salesperson’s product within the frame of the wishes and needs of the customer.
Evidently that means that the salesperson must deconstruct the common idea and perception of sales. We have to replace it with the wish to help the customer. The salesperson’s focus is find out if there is common grounds for a trade. Your money, my product.
In order to fully live that objective, a salesperson needs to he honest. Abandon convincing, mental tricks, and hidden manipulations. Then the function of selling becomes enjoyable. You can be you! You can speak the truth. Being all you are will eventually lead to you loving what you do – also if it is selling.
A salesperson who takes trading seriously, takes the trade of selling seriously. Welcome to the real trade of selling. It is about you. However, you focusing on reaching a realisation with the customer on the customer’s wants and needs. If these are about something that the product is unable to do, then sales is about saving the time of both the salesperson and the now former potential customer, and stop the conversation.
When what the customer needs and wants coinsides with the salesperson’s product – the customer “takes” the product. That is easy. The salesperson can sit back and let the customer choose. It is a beautiful place – for the customer and the salesperson.
When you buy stuff, what do you want? Do you want to be convinced? Do you want a salesperson who is less than too honest? Do you want to be tricked and manipulated?
If your answer is “no”, then stop being the salesperson you would never buy from!
Selling is a trade misunderstood and molested by people who have no love for the process of choosing. I work hard and very odd hours to change that. To make people proud about selling. I want my trade, my craft, being a salesman, to be an honourable trade. I want the lady next to me a the next dinner table to say “oh, how exciting, I would love to be in sales, I think I am honest enough and I love helping people to make a choice”. I want my wife to realize that her husband is in a trade that would never “break” her, if she chooses to be a saleswoman.
To sell is to help! I love helping. I love being honest. I love saving time. I love being a salesperson. Do you want to join the crusade of making sales a honourable trade? I hope I have helped you to make that choice.
Tony E. Clausen