How often have you heard this one (or said it?): “I don’t like sales, and besides… I’m no good at it. ” Most of us have said it, no matter what our industry or profession, steering clear if possible of anything that smacks of sales. We prefer, instead the sweet smell of nearly anything else- marketing, operations, management, engineering, accounting… anything else! “Just don’t ask me to go out and SELL something. No sir, no way, no thank you, ma’am. That’s just not me. ”
Well, hold on a minute and take another look, bubba: it darn well BETTER be you! In this Age of Fleeting ‘Permanent’ Employment, none of us can ever again settle back and forget about our need to sell ourselves. Like it or not, we’re bound to be out of our present job sooner or later, no matter how great we’re doing at it. So we’ve got to keep our selling skills sharp and rarin’ to go. This includes utilizing such skills in the midst of our employment circumstances as well.
Selling ourselves goes on all day, every day, in the modern work world. We must keep selling our value so we won’t be canned prematurely. We must keep selling our company’s value so shareholders will appreciate it. We must keep selling our product’s value so our customers don’t drift away to the competition. Unlike bygone days, we may no longer take any of these for granted.
And to those still kicking and screaming that, “Yeah, that’s cute, but I really don’t have the right personality for it, ” listen to the words of James Masciarelli, author of the new book PowerSkills: Building Top-Level Relationships for Bottom-Line Results, on the subject: “The good news is that ‘hunting’ (selling), no matter how strongly affected by innate talent or cultural conditioning, can be learned. Some of the most outstanding business leaders have admitted to me that hunting did NOT come naturally to them, that they had to learn it, and that once they did, its value in their professional lives proved enormous. Hunters, including the most successful ones, are by and large made, not born, and this raises hope for us all. ”
Masciarelli’s comments also relate to high-level performance and achievement in general, which has also been proven, through research, to be something acquired AFTER birth rather than before. The excuse that we are not born this way (or that) is just that, an excuse, nothing more. Simply put, knowing how to sell, whether you employ such skills in a direct manner or not, helps you maintain and advance your career in a big way. And your more causal relationships may be enhanced from knowing how to sell as well, including (some few, lucky folks have discovered) your love life.
What to do about it? For starters, stop getting jittery every time someone mentions the word “sales. ” Next sign up for a sales course, or read a how-to-sell book. You could also join a professional association of sales pros, buy some software, attend a sales conference. Somehow, find a way to incorporate selling into your view of yourself. How about hanging out with those salesy wackos down the hall? The main thing is this: don’t shy away.
The more you familiarize yourself with sales, the less you’ll demonize it. The more comfortable and then skilled you become at it, the more you will practice it and get even better. Then you’ll begin noticing measurable improvements in both your career and your personal life which you keep measuring, and keep growing, and which will change your life.
Ken Lizotte CMC is Chief Imaginative Officer (CIO) of emerson consulting group inc. (Concord, MA), which transforms consultants, law firms, executives and companies into “thoughtleaders. ” This article is an excerpt from his newest book “Beyond Reason: Questioning Assumptions of Everyday Life".
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