If You're in Sales - Stop Selling!

Clayton Shold

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As conflicting a statement as it may seem many would be wise to subscribe to this advice.

If you are a sales person, you are in one of the toughest professions out there. It has been said less than 1% of the population has what it takes to be successful in sales. Those are not great odds. But many of us are attracted to the sales arena. We are the modern day gladiators who face daily challenges, survive and often thrive. We like helping people; we enjoy the competitive nature and recognition that comes with being successful at what we do.

So how do some men and women rise to the top while so many others only dream about success?

Many of the top sales professionals I know have been fortunate to have had a mentor somewhere along the way who shared nuggets of golden advice. Many years ago my Regional Sales Manager made a statement one day that offended me. It also changed my life.

He said, “Clayton you’re a good sales person, but you could be a great sales person. ” As one of the top sales people in the region my ego was bruised. I went away mad that he would say such a thing. I considered myself a dedicated student of selling, I had been on many sales courses and my results were very good.

His statement rolled around in my head for the balance of the day and that night. I needed to understand his thinking. The next morning, I worked up some courage, not really sure what I would hear and went into his office to ask him what he meant with his comment the day before.

He asked me to sit, and began by telling me how pleased he was that I was on his team, and explained he believed his role was to get the best out of people. I told him I felt a bit insulted, I considered myself better than just good at sales. He reassured me I was, but if I wanted to be a great sales person I had to listen carefully to some advice. I still remember as if it were yesterday, at 9 am on a Friday morning he said two words that stunned me, “Stop selling. ” I was dumbfounded, stop selling? He went on to explain, “Your job is not to sell anything. Your job is to help your customer make an informed purchasing decision. ”

Well he had to repeat the statement two times before the light bulb began to come on for me. Of course he was absolutely right. I needed to move from being a gladiator ready to do battle, to becoming a trusted advisor. My responsibility was to bring subject matter expertise to the table and help the potential purchaser understand the pros and cons of their decision. It is their money, it is their decision. Had I done everything I could to help them make an informed one?

Over the years I have shared this nugget with many “good” sales people. I smile as I watch their reaction when I suggest they can improve their sales if they STOP SELLING. If you practice this philosophy today I commend you. Should you adopt it going forward, I wish you much personal success.

Clayton Shold has 25 years of experience helping sales professionals increase their revenue and productivity. He can be reached at claytonshold@cogeco.ca


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