Never Apologize For Selling Or Being A Sales Professional!
I have to admit I get just rip roaring pissed off with a lot of the rhetoric–some from very smart people about selling and sales people. “We should stop selling and start serving… ” “We need to stop selling and be helpful…” “We’re not trying to sell you something, we’re trying to solve your problems….”
The madness goes on to what we call ourselves or refuse to call ourselves. We don’t want to be called sales professionals, but rather relationship managers, account managers, customer service managers (as opposed to real customer service people), business development managers, partners, and the list of creative names that avoid the “S” word is really astounding.
All of this is simply horse shit! It may draw eyeballs, it may create readers, it creates great sound bites and tweets, it may sell seminars and workshops, but it’s just crap and does our profession a disservice. It plays to and reinforces all the stereotypes about bad selling and salesmanship. It lumps all of us together, demeaning us, and avoiding the real issue, bad salesmanship and bad sales practice.
When are we going to stop apologizing for who we are and what we do?!
I am a sales professional. I’m proud of being a sales professional, I’m proud of the value I create for my customers and clients. I want them to recognize that value and I’m proud to ask them to pay me for the value we create. (And they are happy to pay.)
There is nothing incompatible about selling, serving, and being helpful. Professional selling has always been about helping customers improve and serving them. Whether it’s helping them realize opportunities they are missing, whether it’s identifying and solving a problem they are having, whether it’s helping them achieve goals, business and personal. Great selling has always been focused on being helpful, serving our customers, building great and differentiated value that’s meaningful to them.
But we have more responsibility than just being helpful and solving problems. We are accountable for creating revenue, keeping our companies in business, and the people who support us by designing, building and supporting the products solutions and services we sell employed.
We shouldn’t be wasting our time on people who don’t want our help and service. We shouldn’t be wasting our time on organizations whose problems we aren’t the best in the world at solving. We shouldn’t be wasting our time on people who don’t want to change and improve, or whose focus is on other priorities. We shouldn’t be wasting our time on organizations who are not prepared to invest in the value we create.
There’s really a perverse irony. If we are spending our time being trying to be helpful and serving those people—then we are probably wasting their time. We are spending their time on things they don’t care about or aren’t a current priority. We are spending their time on things in which we offer little value or which they don’t value. In the end, we really aren’t being helpful or of service, we are being just the opposite (Kind of funny how that works, isn’t it?).
The issue we are avoiding by playing these word and title games is bad salesmanship and bad sales practice! We’ve got to confront that head on, not avoid it by changing what we call ourselves, playing word games about servicing and helping and not selling.
We have to root out and extinguish bad sales practice and bad salesmanship. It has to be unacceptable in our own organizations, both because it’s bad for our customers and it’s bad for our companies. We have to set personal examples to our people, our peers, and most importantly to our customers about truly professional selling. We have to educate them about what great professional selling is about, so they don’t let the hackers waste their time.
When you think about it, we’re the only people who haven’t figured that out. Our customers have already figured it out. They really want to see good sales people and to buy–because their act of buying means we are creating value and helping them achieve, improve, and produce results.
They tell us this every day, by who they choose to see, by where they invest their time, and what they choose to buy. There’s tons of market research from the leading analysts reinforcing this. Customers value sales people who help solve their problem and who help them improve. And they welcome investing in those things that create great return and results for them.
All these articles and stuff about stopping selling aren’t written for buyers, they are addressed to sellers. Rather than have us confront the real problem, they promote avoidance and distract us from the core issues of what professional selling is about.
Anyone ashamed of being a sales person, is not addressing the core issue, they’re just trying to mask it, perhaps even use it to manipulate customers. Bad salesmanship and sales practice is bad salesmanship and sales practice, whether executed by a sales person, a business development person, a relationship managers, or a partner.
So let’s stop playing word games, let’s stop avoiding the issues that confront us, our companies, and our customers. Great selling creates great value. Bad salesmanship, manipulative, deceptive, pressure based tactics and practices are simply unacceptable and have nothing to do with being a sales professional. Bad salesmanship, not listening, not probing, not exploring, not challenging, not engaging, not understanding the customer or their business, being poorly prepared, not following up, not learning and improving is wasteful of our time and our customers’ time and needs to be eliminated. Being focused only on what we get, regardless of the value the customer gets is wrong and an embarrassment to our profession and our companies.
Bad salesmanship, bad sales practice is simply unacceptable. We should call it what it is, we should address it head on, and we should eradicate it. Playing word and title games is nothing more than mental and verbal masturbation.
(Aren’t you glad I don’t feel strongly about this?)
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