Selling. A dirty word, or must have skill?
Pull up a chair and get comfortable. I’m going to take you back in time to when I took my first sales job, straight out of the Army. One minute I was in N.Ireland on active duty and 24 hours later I was in Swindon, all dressed up in civvies for my first ever sales training.
It was unbelievable, 14 days later I was handed the keys to a brand new car, with the boot pre-filled with a range of financial services applications! I was even given a list of people who lived on my route home and had been written too. Let’s face it, I was just off the streets, in a pretty intense environment, handling guns, dodging bricks and petrol bombs with a fine cocktail of abuse from the local players. So selling financial services was like a holiday!
I was a bit on an exception to be frank. My attitude was one of pride at being in sales. Many of those around me were almost apologetic about being in sales. The only other exception was a guy called Paul, he became a very good friend of mine. Like me he was loud and proud, maybe it was something to do with the fact that he too was ex-army, having recently left the Para’s?
I don’t do sales!
You would not believe the number of times I have heard this, or phrases similar, when giving one of my talks on sales. Sorry sparky, you do sales just like the rest of us, you just tell yourself you don’t. You’ve been selling since the day you opened your eyes!
A friend of mine stood next to me at the bar, after a long and frustrating week, all I wanted to do was sit there at the bar and have a relaxing beverage or two, or three! He announced that he could never do what I do, he would never be able to sell. I explained to him that if he believed in what he was selling, knew what he was selling, understood the needs of the person that needed what he had, then he would sell too.
You’d have thought I had committed some heinous crime! He quickly changed the subject, spending the next 20 minutes telling me why we should move to the bar down the road. I listened with doubt to start with (just let me stay here), slow but sure the arguments began to stack up and I greed to move to the bar down the road. On the walk there, he mentioned that I was no longer talking, he wanted to know if I was Ok? Yes of course, I was just reviewing in my mind what a great sale you just made!
CEO’s and Sales
I have been lucky enough to hold down a number of CEO positions and meet many other CEO’s some, like me working in the SME sector and others working with major top table brands. We all had one thing in common, regardless of our background; We could all sell. For anyone in a position of leadership selling is a must have skill. Now I know that most people will agree with that. If your CEO can’t sell change, can’t sell you ideas, can’t sell targets, then they are sunk!
It doesn’t stop there I would argue that the ability to sell is a must have skill for anyone and everyone. The better you are at it, the greater your future. Not as a sales person but as a valued asset in business, any business. After all, selling is just really good and well structured communication between two or more parties with an outcome.
It’s not dirty it’s life
So selling, when done well, when done with consideration, when a genuine two-way process, is never a dirty word and is absolutely a must have skill. Even if you don’t have an overt sales role, I urge you to refine your skills and practice the art of exceptional communication (another phrase that describes selling)! You can find lots more on this subject in Sales Alchemy available on Amazon, or if you’d like to chat to me about it, I would be very happy to talk with you.
All the best, until next time