You are a salesperson. There, I said it. There’s no getting around it. Every person on earth is involved in sales one way or another. And every person on earth needs to become a better salesperson if they want to reach their full potential.
What comes to mind when you first think about a salesperson? My guess is one of the first things you thought of was a used-car salesman in his 40s with slicked back hair and a suit that’s a size too large for him. Or a door-to-door salesman who talks really fast and pressures you to sign a contract without giving you time to read it.
The point of doing this was to get us to recognize how we usually promote a negative stereotype of salespeople in our own minds, and how we usually talk about salespeople in a negative light. Even I, myself, working in the sales industry, can sometimes get fed up or jump to those stereotypes when thinking about other salespeople.
Here’s some news for you, however. As much as you may hate the word “sales” and want to disassociate yourself from it because of all the negative connotations, in order to reach your true potential, you must embrace it. You must study sales and improve each day. Here’s why:
Sales is not about an economic exchange. Sales is not about trading some cash in exchange for a cool car or pest control or window cleaning. Sales is about influence. Using this definition, that sales is about influencing another person to take action because they see the benefits of doing so, we can start to understand how this applies to everything we do.
In the economic sense, it is influencing another person to pull out their wallet and pay us some of their hard-earned money because we show them why our product will be beneficial to them. This is the standard example that everyone knows and thinks about. At home, it is about influencing our kids to eat their vegetables. Or our kids influencing us to buy them that toy they really want.
Whatever roles we carry personally, we have a duty to learn how to sell. If you don’t learn how to sell your partner on your dreams, you won’t have the support you crave. If you don’t learn how to sell your child on why it’s important to be home before their curfew, you will have children who stay out all night.
“Sales is about influencing another person to take action because they see the benefits of doing so.”
As humans, we are inherently selfish. We only think about ourselves. Even when we think about others, it is usually to wonder what they are thinking about us. I know from experience that if somebody starts talking to me and it isn’t about me, beneficial to me, or I can’t relate, I zone out.
Remember, sales is about getting others to see how what you are suggesting will be beneficial to them. Once we turn the focus on why they would be better off by listening to us we will start to develop a lot more influence on those around us. For example, if your child loves sports and wants to be a pro athlete one day, show them how eating healthy will help them be the best.
The most genuine of all salespeople (parents, partners, friends, coaches, heroes, mentors, etc.) always focus on helping those around them be the best they can be. They tell us what we should do, and if we know they have our best interests in mind, we do what they say. We trust that if we do what they tell us to do, we will be better off than if we don’t do what they say.
If sales is your career, that last paragraph should be the number-one thing to ponder after reading this. “Did I really help them see why this would be beneficial for them?” “If I were to go back and ask them, would they really feel that I wanted what is best for them?” If we do not have their best interests in mind, they can sense it. And because one salesperson didn’t have their best interests in mind, they now assume that all salespeople are selfish and don’t care about them.
When we lose focus on helping others see we want the best for them, and help them see their own potential benefits, we lose our influence. Rebellious children usually come from us telling our children to do something “Because I said so.” This instantly kills any influence we have with them, because we are implying to them that we only care about what we want and that we don’t care to try to understand their side of the story to find a compromise that benefits them as well.
I know some of you are reading this and thinking to yourself, “Kyle, that makes sense and everything, but my job is different.” That is a lie you tell yourself to justify your resistance to studying and improving your sales ability. I am blunt about this because I also have made those justifications in the past. I don’t care what you do for work, what you do at home, what you do in your free time, I can promise that if you learned the art of sales you would do those things better.
After reading all of this, I don’t know if your thoughts or opinions about sales have changed at all. Probably not, because we are creatures of habit. However, if there is one thing I hope you take away from this, it is that the foundation of sales lies in helping others. It is about educating and helping others see why they would be better for doing what we say. You must genuinely think that what you suggest will be better for them if you want a chance. If you don’t yet, focus on selling yourself first. If you are not sold on what you are suggesting, nobody will be.
It’s time for everyone to understand that their success in work, marriage, parenting, and any other situation fully depends on our ability to sell; our ability to sell our dreams to our partner, our ability to sell the health benefits of broccoli to a four-year-old, and, yes, to sell used cars. Learn the art of sales. Or, better put, the art of influence. If you are looking for suggestions on good books on the subject, or if you have suggestions of good books, please let me know!