Sales and Sales Management Blog

October 30, 2008

Selling IS a Profession to be Proud Of

Filed under: sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 5:11 am
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Like many of you, I have many roles that I must fill.  I am a sales trainer and coach; I am a sales management consultant; I am a writer and speaker; and I am a salesperson.  As the owner of a sales training and management consulting company, I don’t have the luxury of concentrating on just one activity.  I’m sure most of you don’t either.

But as we look at the various activities that make up our jobs, we must keep in mind what it is that is our primary function.  And no matter what our title-account rep, REALTOR, loan officer, financial planner, producing manager, manager, sales rep, business owner, attorney, accountant, architect, or whatever, we must be ever mindful that our primary job is selling-that is, keeping the business open and healthy.  We are the production force for our company, whether that company consists of just ourselves or tens of thousands of employees.

Yet, I find that many of the people I work with and speak to want to be anything but salespeople.  They go out of their way to adopt titles that minimize their selling responsibilities.  An examination of their business cards gives no clue as to their primary function.  Speak with them and they never use the words sales, selling or salesperson.  They use euphemisms, they use industry jargon, or they just plain avoid a direct discussion of their role. 

Some when asked directly will freely admit that they don’t want to be identified or associated with selling and sales.  They view themselves as professionals in their industry who on occasion must unfortunately act as a salesperson.  But during these most uncomfortable of moments, they still refuse to address their role directly.  They are embarrassed to collect the necessary data to complete an order or have a new client sign a contract. 

Such action is self-defeating.  Without a clear understanding and appreciation for what one’s primary function is, it is difficult to be successful at it and very possibly confusing for the client.  The client is well aware that they are in the process of purchasing a product or service.  They know the person in front of them is trying to sell them something.  Yet, when that person gives the impression that they are uncomfortable selling the product or service, what message does that send to the client?

One of my coaching clients is one of the top financial planners in the country.  She runs circles around most other financial planners in terms of both her production and her technical skills.  What does she attribute her great success to?  Her highly developed technical skills?  No.  Her strong marketing?  No.  Then what?  She contributes a great deal of her success to her competition’s attitude toward their job.  She sees herself as a salesperson who is a financial planner.  She isn’t afraid of selling.  In fact, she prides herself in being a salesperson first, a technician second.  Her competition, she says, will do anything to avoid the “salesperson” image.  Great technicians they may be, but they can’t generate business as she does because they avoid the very actions and abhor the attitude that produces the business.  And she believes that as long as her competition views themselves as financial planners who must stoop to selling on occasion, she’ll never have serious competition for the majority of her target market. 

We are participants in an honorable profession, one that has been the backbone of most societies for thousands of years.  We are the ones who feed and clothe the world.  We’re the ones that allow the government to run, who allow the corporations to thrive and to hire all those millions of workers, who allow researchers to find new cures and develop new technologies, and who have allowed the quality of life improvements that have literally changed the way people live.  We are the force that “makes the world go ’round.”

The next time you feel hesitant about identifying yourself as a sales professional, keep in mind the role you play in the world’s economy.  And keep in mind that your client knows you’re a salesperson whether or not you want to identify yourself as such or not. 

To be effective in your job you must know who you are.  You’re a professional.  You’re the one who allows your family, your neighbor-and that prospect you’re talking to–to live the life they live. 

If you’re not comfortable with who you are as a sales professional, why should your prospect be comfortable buying from you?

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4 Comments »

  1. You’re right, Paul.

    Selling is a profession to be proud of. Dodging the subject with titles like “Marketing Rep,” and “Business Development Executive” is a sure sign that either the company or the person doesn’t believe that “sales” is a true profession.

    We’ve all got an uphill battle, though. Most every mention of sales or selling in the media is negative. Few sales professionals get noticed when they deliver real value to their customers. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

    Comment by Dave Stein — October 30, 2008 @ 7:48 am | Reply

  2. Great posting.

    There’s a steriotypical image of the sales person out there and it ain’t good!

    Nothing happens in the world without a sale – nothing.

    I believe sales people should be on more money than 99% of the population. After all, how does a surgeon get to use the latest medical equipment?

    Yes, a sales person sold it!

    It’s time to stand up for our profession.

    When I’m asked what I do I always say “I’m and entrepreneur and sales person”

    And I’m proud of it!

    Sean
    The UK’s Leading Authority On Sales Improvement

    Comment by Sean McPheat — October 30, 2008 @ 10:11 am | Reply

  3. Paul,
    Yes, Sales is a proud profession. Unfortunately, too many don’t see it that way. I think that’s why we use the word “professional” so much. We have… “professional” sales rep, “professional” sales training, “professional” sales career. Did you ever hear of a “professional” doctor? Salespeople solve problems for the businesses in their community. That’s important work.
    Nick

    Comment by Nick Moreno — November 1, 2008 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  4. Amen! Check my posting on a related topic – http://garywiram.wordpress.com/2008/11/27/%e2%80%9cjust-a-sales-rep%e2%80%9d/.

    Comment by Gary Wiram — November 27, 2008 @ 6:48 pm | Reply


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