Why I am not a sales person any more

I have had a difficult week. Nothing serious, so don’t move to another post or destination because I am going to bum you out with stories of woe and despair. It’s been difficult from a business perspective because I have slowly been coming to a realization. For over 20 years, I have been in a sales capacity of one sort or another. When you do something for that long, you tend to get attached to it, and hope that there is hope for the future. Well, if you are a true “salesman” I am here to tell you that you may need to find another job.

Looks like a used car salesman

Image by vagawi via Flickr

The world is SO noisy right now with everyone desperate to get out of the economic morass that we are stuck in, but what I see is everyone is also afraid to make a move. There are many, many things that people can do to find those who are still ready to work with you and buy your services and I submit that hardcore “sales” is not one of them.
You see, the last thing anyone needs right now is a desperate “salesman” calling them out of the blue off of a list and telling them that they need to buy their product / service just because it is “their time.” Why is their time? Because they were next on the list, of course, but is that any reason to have to buy anything, especially in this day and age.
So what do you do? Stop trying to sell your product? Of course not. You do, however, need to do it differently. Here’s a few ideas.

  1. Re-purpose your lists. Most companies have lists that they will try to “sell” from. I suggest you take those lists and try to find people in your targeted prospects to connect with via social media channels. This could be a first step toward building a real relationship that could result in business happening for both of you
  2. Never use the term “close the sale” again. Closing is an old school word that has developed a bad connotation over the years. Sales people behind the scenes talk about “closing a deal” and usually chuckle after they say it, because they needed to use some manipulative tactic to finally get someone to sign on the bottom line on the salesperson’s schedule, not theirs.
  3. Develop prospects like you would tend to a
    . You need to nurture a prospective client and not force them. Traditional selling is like putting a seed in the ground then demanding that it become the final product on your schedule (usually an incredibly stupid quarterly quota expectation) rather than letting it do what it is supposed to do in its own time
  4. Forget selling. It’s not about selling anymore. It’s about developing. Developing relationships. Developing trust. Developing your product or service.

So today, while I realize just how much I need to “change,” I am still excited about the future. Why? Well, I realize that while I have been in sales for along time I have always conducted myself in a way that was not “sales-y.” At times, that got me in trouble, but it has also served me well. If my numbers weren’t where they needed to be, it was because my prospects weren’t ready yet, and I respected that.
In the end, that’s a better way to be anyway. So here’s to the future and developing win-win relationships that can help us all get out of this mess and move into the next era of business.

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