“People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.” – Jeffrey Gitomer
When you think of “sales” or “selling,” what’s the first word that comes to mind?
Daniel Pink, the New York Times bestselling author of To Sell is Human, posed this question as part of a research survey.
“Pushy” was the most popular adjective, followed by other charming descriptors like “yuck,” “annoying,” “slimy,” “manipulative” and “sleazy.”
Out of the 25 most common words, only five had positive connotations.
Every profession has rotten apples, so why do people harbor a special hatred for sales?
The answer lies in the prehistoric ages – you know, when people didn’t bury their heads into their smartphones.
Before cell phones, search engines and social sharing became ubiquitous, sellers were sole owners of proprietary information. Several smarmy salespeople took advantage of this lopsided situation by conning customers in order to maximize their commissions.
But times have pivoted.
Today, the customer dictates the selling process, often having more information about a product than the seller. If not empathetic toward customer desires, you are mercilessly culled.
Successful sellers respect this shift in power by working hard to indulge their customers.
Clearly, sales has morphed from being a purely transactional process to becoming a customer-centric journey.
Therefore, it’s time to retire the notion that sales – when done right – is a dirty word. Here are five reasons why:
1. Sales is Connection
“Best way to sell something – don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect and trust of those who might buy.” – Rand Fishkin
My first and only stint in sales was a disaster. My mentor, however, was among the highest-ranking salespeople of that company.
I now realize why we had such drastically different results: she treated customers like humans; I treated them like dollar signs.
I was primarily concerned about buttressing my commission, but she was focused on fostering trust. I have seen her spend an extra 20 minutes to belt out a song in her beautiful voice just to appease a prospect.
Is it any surprise that customers loved her?
When you are a caring confidant – and not a cagey seller – buyers will reward you with their time, attention and money.
2. Sales is Service
“We shower our customers with attention. There is no doubt in my mind that our philosophy can be applied to selling just about anything – from aircraft engines to beanbags.” – Jack Mitchell
Jack Mitchell, CEO of Mitchells/Richards – two family-owned luxury retail stores with a “legacy of unsurpassed customer relationships” – takes pride in his customers.
In his book, Hug Your Customers, Mitchell confesses to scrutinizing his top customers “like studying the vocabulary words for the SATs” – to discover ways to delight them.
He has labeled such superior customer service as “hugging.”
From simple things like remembering the name of a customer’s dog to more involved gestures like opening the store at midnight to accommodate an urgent request, Mitchell and his team ensure that their customers feel heeded, honored and, well, hugged.
You don’t have to own a million dollar brand to show a similar interest toward your customers. When you sell from a place of knowledge and kindness, your customers will respond favorably.
In sales, #ThoughtfulExpertise will consistently win customers over!
3. Sales is Universal
“The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell. And the funny thing is, you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.” – Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
- Have you convinced an employer to hire you?
- Have you cajoled your child into taking a bath?
- Have you trained your dog to pee outside?
Congratulations – you are a salesperson!
Sales, at its core, is persuasion: utilizing an enticing combination of emotion and logic to negotiate a win-win situation for both the parties. Unknowingly, we engage in such give and take all the time.
- If you an entrepreneur, you are a salesperson.
- If you are a parent, you are a salesperson
- If you are a spouse, you are a salesperson.
- If you are a child, you are the BEST salesperson.
Or, as Daniel Pink eloquently puts it, “To Sell Is Human.”
4. Sales is T-A-L-K-I-N-G
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
Most of you know Benjamin Franklin as a printer, a writer, a philosopher, a diplomat and a statesman. But this popular American Founding Father was also a prolific salesman.
In his fascinating book, The Ben Franklin Factor: Selling One to One, author James C. Humes outlines Franklin’s seven secrets of selling, which are even more relevant in today’s age of relationship marketing:
Timing – Appreciating – Listening – Knowledge – Integrity – Need – Giving
Do any of these secrets sound slimy or selfish to you?
Benjamin Franklin intuitively realized that in order to leave a rich legacy as a salesperson, you have to make the customer the hero of your story.
5. Sales Is Passion
“Sales has really influenced everything I do. It has instilled in me the important traits of operating with a sense of urgency and listening to people.” – Jeffrey R. Immelt
Larry Page. Mark Zuckerberg. Bill Gates.
Care to guess what these three movers and shakers of the business world have in common?
Answer: They are all introverts who became renowned for selling their vision to a global audience.
Salespeople are stereotyped as gregarious smooth-talkers who can charm you into donating a kidney for fun.
Truth is, salespeople come in all personality types.
The common thread that binds successful salespeople is their wholehearted belief in the value of their offerings. Their unwavering passion and undying persistence are contagious and will be rewarded.
The prevalence of social media, the predominance of technology and the prominence of search have drastically altered the sales landscape.
Successful salespeople no longer sell. They connect, they collaborate, they communicate, they CARE.
When you place customers before commissions, sales is no longer “sleazy,” but instead becomes the foundation of an economically healthy society.
So, tell us: How do YOU perceive sales?