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The Sales-Persona Myth Revisited

I recently saw an article entitled "Want to Be a Self-Made Millionaire? With 1 Sentence, Mark Cuban Reveals How to Get Rich".

Of course, after reading this title, I had to click it because in my mind I figured Mark Cuban would say either time management or sales. As it turns out, it was sales. The article addresses how "many people feel "selling" implies pressuring, manipulating, misleading--the sell-at-all-costs salesperson stereotype." This line struck a chord with me because I would agree there is a serious stigma associated with "selling" in our society today. There is such a stigma, that I am almost concerned if someone, in a non-professional setting, gives me a compliment on my sales ability. I'm not concerned because of my personal view of sales, I'm concerned because of the average consumer's view of a salesperson. Believe it or not, depending on the circumstances and individual, I've secretly wondered if it's a back-handed compliment, although I know it's typically well-meaning. Seriously though, who wants to be friends with a salesperson? Show me the long line of people waiting to initiate that friendship! It can be indicative of a person who makes promises they can't keep, is untruthful, or just flat out overly obnoxious. For instance, what do you think about when you hear the phrase "He's like a car salesman"? You probably think of a badger. Like the badger in these amazing commercials created by some genius within the Johnson Automotive Dealership. Of course, we've all had buyers remorse over items we have purchased whether it's a car, piece of clothing, you name it. Sometimes we feel tricked when looking back at the individual who sold us that product or service. Maybe we are justified in our feelings. Or perhaps, we just need a scapegoat for our own internal remorse.

What I appreciate about this business article is how it describes the importance of sales for everybody:

" if you think of selling as explaining the logic and benefits of an idea, a decision, a project -- of anything worthwhile -- then everyone needs sales skills. Everyone needs to have the ability to convince other people that an idea makes sense, to show bosses or investors how a project or business will generate a return, or to help employees understand the benefits of a new process.

Sales skills are, in essence, communication skills. And since communication skills are critical in any business or career, the best way to learn how to communicate well is to work in sales -- because great salespeople are great communicators. Gain sales skills and you'll be better at everything: bringing investors on board, lining up distribution deals, landing customers, motivating employees. Especially in the early stages of starting a company, seemingly everything you do involves some form of sales."

Think about this, our founding fathers were amazing salesmen. They had to convince common farmers in many cases to risk their lives for independence. They advocated and sold a dream of freedom where success was not guaranteed, questionable at best. Talk about a car was total pipe dream, albeit an admirable and noble pipe dream. Most would agree our founding fathers were amazing leaders, and I believe this is because of their ability to communicate, and articulate their vision - their sales ability! If you think about what makes a complete leader, the communication skill required is more than just being able to explain or share information. A great leader is able to convince and reason (sell) with those who may have previously disagreed with him/her.

Even though the article was focused on becoming a millionaire, I am more interested in how we can use our sales ability to coalesce teams to accomplish worthwhile goals within our communities, our churches, our schools, our families. Sales is not just for those in business, it's for everybody. We owe it to our spouses to explain our rationale during a disagreement, we should be selling our children on the life benefits of making the right decisions, we should persuade friends to consider ideas or solutions that may lead to greater fulfillment or satisfaction in their lives, our employers deserve to hear our strategies for improving outcomes where we work.

So, why are we so scared to sell?

1. We worry what people will think of us.

Initiating the "sales" conversation with somebody can be scary. This is why people hate making cold calls! The reality is, most of the calls we are afraid to make are not even cold, they are warm calls. Meaning...there is already some form of knowledge about said topic between the two parties. What if God's not opening doors because we aren't willing to knock on the door? We worst case what people will think about us and we miss out on amazing opportunities. We rationalize our passiveness by telling ourselves we are following the appropriate etiquette for matters that do not have a defined protocol!

2. We can't deal with rejection because we lack confidence.

This is the real killer of opportunity in life and it has unintentionally become a central theme within this blog. I believe all of us have fear that is woven into our beings to act as governors throughout life, helping us to predict and avoid catastrophe in many cases. However, all of us Gen Yer's live such cushy lives we have become wimps. All of us who were born after 1980 are basically guaranteed wimps! Our grandfathers were storming beaches with bullets whizzing by their heads and we are concerned about what we will eat for lunch. Trials bring resolve, which ultimately leads to confidence in knowing if you fail, you will be ok.

If we start "selling" for causes worthy of our time and attention, not only will we build positive traits (confidence, discipline, persistence) listed in the article, but we will be amazed at the doors that open in our lives. Remember, people often want what we are offering, but they will rarely tell us. It is our job to find them, and then be brave and make the sale! Just like in business, we get to reap rewards, potentially even more meaningful rewards, once we start "closing deals".

It's time to go find some sales leads!




Washington, DC, USA