Is It Time For A New Paradigm For Professional Selling?

Brian Lambert

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What is the new paradigm for professional selling?

To answer this question, one must first understand that a paradigm is simply a “way at looking at the world. "

The new paradigm for selling entails all sales professionals understanding what this view should look like, no matter what their vertical market of focus. In other words, an “operative paradigm" for professional selling needs to exist. The reason the operative paradigm must exist stems from the fact that sales as a profession must have a common language, a common understanding of what is important, and a common approach to creating new “sales knowledge. "

To create an operative paradigm (a paradigm that is standardized)all sales professionals must first understand “what" selling is, at it pertains to:

- finding ourselves at the intersection of many different beliefs, values, emotions, wants, needs, and personalities (within the human element). For example, we will intersect with hundreds of buyers and individuals throughout our career.

- finding ourselves at the intersection of organizations, norms, cultures, systems, and visions (within the organizational element). For example, our organization will intersect with many others throughout our career.

- finding ourselves at the intersection of numerous professions. We exist at the intersection of Human Resource competencies, training and development approaches, purchasing, marketing, and consulting. Each profession with their own operational paradigms.

Yet, we don't yet have a fully embraced operational paradigm for the single most important profession in the world. The profession that drives the global economy - sales.

Sales professionals exist at all these intersections as a “boundary spanner" between two companies and between two people and between several professions. This means we are in a very complicated profession. It also means that we are not often understood by many people -including our own management.

Because salespeople exist between two organizations, we have the ability to “become a part" of both of them at the same time. Like most in the sales profession, we take this pretty seriously. Especially when we have to exist within three different organizations within one day due to the nature of the work we do (three different sales calls in one day. )

All of this means that the intersection of organizations and individuals also exist within a constant state of change. It's hard to keep your footing within the range of human emotions, let alone the range of organziational change and dynamics.

Have you ever wondered what this intersection looks like? Have you ever wondered how organizations fit together, how individual competency is created, how different functions related to the sales profession fit together, how all the body of knowledge could be framed up into an architecture?

WAIT! Don't stop reading!

If you haven't thought of these questions, you are missing what it is to be a professional. If you learn “what" these things are, you can learn how to become more proficient. The more you look, the more you will realize that the explanation and understanding of “what" it this intersection looks like doesn't exist for all of sales. The key is to create this reality yourself and hopefully the profession will come along and help one day in the future.

The framework of the profession DOES exist in the work of a few people that have created the first definition and operational paradigm for professional selling since 1999. They realize that no common language = no common understanding (find out more at

Sure, everyone's own opinion or fact regarding how to exist at the intersection exists, but no two people can agree on what this looks like. This is like two doctors being unable to discuss medical procedures because nobody took the time to create the “Grey's Anatomy Book" explaining what the human body is. Sure, they can spend hours going over “how" they do a procedure, but without an operational paradigm, the discussion wouldn't go far and it sure wouldn't see the test of time. There would always be a “new and better way.

To begin understanding this intersection, you have to begin with the ultimate assumptions about professional selling. Can we all agree taht Selling is ultimately:

1 - Grounded to a buyer(s)

2 - Focused on a transaction

3 - Bound by an ethical responsibility?

IF we can all agree on these things from all sides of the table we can begin to disseecxt the sales profession step by step using the system's approach. IF the buyer can agree to this, the marketing and purchasing professions, and even HR , then why can't we gain further understanding?

Based on this approach, what if we dissected what a buyer goes through to buy? Further, what happens if we “synchronize" a universal selling and marketing model to that process they go through to buy? Because it's focused on a transaction, we would begin to look at economics and capitalism and the sales professional's role within. We would begin to look at corporate strategy for competition and link indvidual sales performance within this strategy. We would look at the nature of solution selling and creating win-win relationships and bind it to an ethical code within the context of a transaction. And so forth. . .

With these assumptions and the systems approach we could begin to build a methodology for gathering more data quantitatively and qualitatively to build the operational paradigm. Through professional discussions, focus groups, interviews, and literature reviews we could solicit input into the operational paradigm and build on this for many years. This is what the United PRofessional Sales Association has done.

Therefore, the operative paradigm being created serves as the starting point for this journey in how I how we can attempt to achieve new breakthroughs in the profesion. It will also bridge the gap to to the actual roles, competencies, and outputs of Professional Business-to-Business Sales Professionals.

If you are interested in helping in this global project, feel free to contact me. It's something that must be done if the sales profession is to become a “true profession. "


Brian is the Chairman and Founder of the the United Professional Sales Association (UPSA). UPSA is a non-profit organization headquartered in Washington DC that has addressed the concerns and challenges of individual sales professionals. Brian has authored the world’s first universal selling standards and open-source selling framework for free distribution. This ‘Compendium of Professional Selling’ containing the commonly accepted and universally functional knowledge that all sales professionals possess. The open-source selling standards have been downloaded in 16 countries by over 300 people. Over 30 people have made contributions.

Because UPSA is not owned by one person or any company, it is a member organization and guardian of the global standard of entry into the sales profession.

Find out about the membership organization and understand the processes and framework of professional selling at the UPSA Website at

Find out more about Brian at:

Or at


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