I learned to embrace the word sell a long time ago.
I’ve called it an art, a skill, and a game. To me selling is the telling of a story with the intent to persuade someone to do something. Our economy and our livelihoods depend on selling.Without selling there is no buying and therefore no exchange of money
Which is why I continue to find it surprising the reaction I get from non-professional salespeople when you suggest they need to sell. They react as if I have just uttered a 4-letter dirty word.
Entrepreneurs who have brilliant ideas, are starting new ventures, and are full of passion and enthusiasm become terrified when they hear the word ‘sell’.
Writers who say they want to write but live in denial that in today’s day and age the responsibility for their books getting sold rests with them.
And then there are the people re-entering the job market or looking for their next position. When I suggest they need to prepare to sell themselves to their prospective employer they cringe. A look of panic washes over their face. Some physically recoil or break out in a sweat. They see it as sleazy or manipulative. Something they don’t want to do, maybe even something they think they don’t have to do.
We all sell.
Even when I explain that we all sell, every day whether or not we are aware of it they tell me they think selling is sleazy and manipulative and not fitting with their character. They think Herb Tarlek from WKRP in Cincinnati. Use the word marketing and they rest a bit. Now they’re thinking Don Draper in Mad Men. That sounds sexier to them. But the truth is marketing and selling are all intertwined.
Can it be taught?
They will argue as many will that selling cannot be taught. That it is an inherent attribute. You either know how to sell or you don’t. You either have a talent for it or not.
To a degree they’re right. Being a really good salesperson is being a really good storyteller and requires a gift. And just as some are more predisposed to having a killer tennis serve or playing Beethoven’s Fifth, some are more so to selling.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how. People who play tennis are not limited to those who make it to the US Open nor are piano players limited to those who play at Carnegie Hall.
Selling is NOT a 4-Letter Word
If you’ve ever persuaded someone to do something or ever gotten someone excited about something you have sold them. There is nothing revolting about that. In fact it can be a lot of fun !
We all sell. Everyday. We sell our products, our services, ourselves. Which is why in today’s noisy environment it is more important than ever to understand how to take the basic tenets of sales, apply them to our 24/7 social media crazed world and still be authentic.