Monday, March 25, 2013

Why is "sales" a dirty word?

In looking at a recent article in a psychology journal, I found a study on "faking" psychological tests. In the study, the authors said, "...there may be some jobs where it is useful to adapt to situational demands to the point of distorting the truth (e.g., sales)..." (Italics are mine.)

Since when does sales equate with distortion of the truth? This is the same unfortunate view of sales that leads so many young men and women to avoid considering sales as a worthy profession. Why do so many competent people say, "I don't want to be a salesperson" or "I can't sell"? (Incidentally, these two phrases usually mean the same thing: I don't want to sell.)

Many companies try to get around this perception by playing  name games. They call their sales people "Territory Managers" or "Account Representatives." Why not call someone a "Sales Professional"?

Selling is teaching. Selling is guiding and helping. A good teacher makes you want to learn. A good seller makes you want to buy. This requires trust, not distortion.

A good sales call is one in which the prospect or buyer learns something. Rather than distort truth, the seller is trying to help people confront reality and see where something might be improved. Today's seller is faced with helping people overcome denial and talk about where real pain or opportunity exist. Selling is as much a helping profession as social work or psychology when done well.

We professionals need to help the public realize that sales is not the Hollywood version of used car dealers or aluminum siding hawkers. In fact, anyone who makes a living in sales will tell you that a sales person who tries to distort the truth will quickly fail.

In short, a successful seller today must create trust and not distort truth.  A good seller must be the guide who can help someone else make the right decision. Let's help the next generation of professionals see that sales is not a dirty word. Be proud when you say, "I'm a sales professional."

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