Guest post and cartoon by Brad Shorr
I am thrilled to have sufficiently charmed Brad Shorr into guest posting this week. As a follow up to my post last week on Sales, I thought it was only appropriate to have an expert share his expertise on the subject. Brad has been gracious enough to share a four part series on Sales. Without further ado, here is part I!–Karen D. Swim
People who haven’t sold, or who have had bad experiences being sold, hear the word “sales” and cringe. They think of the stereotypical used car salesman: the shifty, manipulative fast talker who strong arms people into purchasing things they don’t need. This is not a model we care to emulate; so, when we are faced with a situation in which we must sell something – a product, a service, a program, or an idea – we feel reluctant, embarrassed, and possibly even, well, dirty.
So let’s begin with some good news. The real world of selling bears no resemblance to that of the moustache-twirling car salesmen. Quite the contrary: in the real world, selling is a natural and necessary aspect of everything we do. A mother who persuades her two year-old son to eat his waxed beans is selling. A volunteer who persuades parishioners to sign up for a church ministry is selling. A customer service manager who persuades her boss to hire two additional reps to handle an overloaded switchboard is selling. An entrepreneur who persuades a bank to loan her money for a new piece of capital equipment is selling. So, here is a second piece of good news. If you think you have no sales experience, you are wrong! Chances are you have been selling for most of your life and are much better at it than you think.
So what exactly is sales, anyway? Certainly, it involves persuasion, but sales is much, much more than that. However, since the persuasive element of sales is what conjures up images of manipulation and dishonesty and makes people reluctant to assume the sales role, let’s deal with it right away. To overcome any aversion to persuasion, think of sales as a two-part process:
- Sales is helping customers determine whether or not your product, service, program, or idea has value to them; and,
- If it does, persuading them to take action now.
Persuasion, you see, should only take place after a customer sees value in what you are selling. And as you will see, I believe the process of establishing value has almost nothing to do with persuasion and almost everything to do with listening, discovering, clarifying, informing, and collaborating. As you begin to see yourself as a listener, an explorer, an educator, and a collaborator, and the used car salesman images will disappear. You will be on your way to putting your valuable products, services, programs, and ideas into action. And that is what it is all about, is it not? Selling is how we get things done. Selling is what turns theoretical value into real value. And by the way – sales is not charity. There is something in it for you. Yes, financial rewards top the list. But even if you are selling to internal customers or in other situations where financial gain is not a factor, sales offers you, the seller, enormous value:
- The satisfaction of seeing your ideas put into action and making a positive impact in your company, your organization, or your family.
- The respect you earn from being an influencer and a doer.
- The appreciation you receive from customers who enjoy better lives because of your efforts.
Another common (and from your point of view only slightly less distasteful) sales stereotype is the extroverted, glad-handing charmer with the gift of gab. It is true that many successful salespeople fit this description, and you may be thinking, “I’m not that person.” Don’t worry – you don’t have to be. How do I know? Because I don’t fit the stereotype in the least, and yet have sold tens of millions of dollars of industrial packaging products to businesses of all shapes and sizes.
In Part II Brad will cover: Four Fears of Selling – Fear Number One.
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Brad is a sales and marketing consultant who lives near Chicago, Illinois. His company, Straight North provides strategic consulting, sales training and coaching, and business blog and other online marketing services. Brad is a prolific reader and writer who is masterful at communicating even complex subjects with warmth and humor.