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Selling—Doing What You Have To Do

by David Brock on November 29th, 2011

Selling has always been a tough job.  Everyday, it becomes tougher as customers leverage other resources to help make buying decisions (why they actively seek to avoid sales people is the topic of dozens of other posts).  In spite of the challenges to success in selling, I see too many sales people making bad choices—they focus on doing what they want to do rather than what they have to do.

It would be great if we could be successful focusing on what we want to do, personally, my favorite part of the sales process is thanking customers for their order.  If I could achieve my goals/quotas by just spending my time thanking customers for their orders, then I’d be 1000% every year!  Unfortunately, things don’t work out that way.  I can’t limit my activity just to that.  I have to do a lot of other things, some of which I hate, in order to be successful and do the things I want/like doing.

I hate prospecting.  Over my career, I’ve made thousands of prospecting calls, I still hate doing it.  It’s somehow unnatural calling on someone you may not know, trying to introduce yourself, determining a need, getting them interested in talking to you.  Somehow, as well prepared as you are, it seems intrusive.  I hate the rejection.  I hate the humiliation of sometimes making bad prospecting calls.

I hate writing proposals.  It’s tedious, detail oriented, I actually have to really focus on the project definition, tasks, schedules, contingencies.  I have to write clearly and precisely, I have to go through several drafts.  I’ve created tools to make proposals easier, but I still dislike writing proposals.

I hate negotiating—well that’s not true, there are large parts of negotiating that I really like.  The process tends to add great clarity to what you are doing and what the customer wants to achieve.  I like talking about the value and results people will achieve and how the investment the customer is making well justified.  I like getting customers to understand the value of a price premium.  I guess it’s the foreplay and posturing that goes on until you start having meaningful discussions, I’d just prefer to skip over those.

I love qualifying and discovery.  It’s really is fun to get the customer to think about their business differently, to help them envision new opportunities.  It’s fun to work with the customer to jointly discover how they can achieve these possibilities.  I love presenting the solution–the way the customer can leverage our capabilities to achieve their dreams.  I love getting them engaged in talking about the solution and hungering for it.

I hate our internal administrivia.  Yes, even though I run the company, like every other sales person, I have to maintain my CRM, do some reporting, do some administrative tasks.  I’ve outsourced as much as I can, but there still is stuff I have to do–and I still hate it.

Sales would be great if we could be successful doing the fun stuff, the stuff we like to do.  Unfortunately, that’s not our job.  To be successful, we have to do all of it.  We have to do the stuff we hate to do.  We have to do it well.  If we are unwilling to do this, then we are not fulfilling our responsibilities as sales people.  We will not be successful.

Professional selling is not just about doing the fun stuff.  It’s about doing the complete job.  It’s about trying to find some joy in those things we don’t like doing — and doing them even if we can’t find that joy.

The most rewarding thing about selling is being successful!  I’ll do whatever it takes to be successful.  What about you?

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2 Comments
  1. Dave,

    Thanks for sharing this! It’s comforting and encouraging to know that seasoned veterans in selling like yourself still find tasks such as prospecting and recordkeeping tedious and uncomfortable. I think it’s the notion that “you’ll get used to it” that makes so many young professionals think that they aren’t cut out for sales. I don’t like prospecting. Opening new relationships is hard. It takes great finesse and diplomacy–both of which I often lack. And I’m not going to “get used to it.” I’ll always hate the awkardness of initiating a new sales converation. However, I also know how rewarding it is. You can’t finish what you don’t start. And, to be able to get the sale and complete a project for a client, is well-worth the discomfort of getting in. Prospecting is not in my comfort zone, but customer satisfaction puts me in a zone of ecstacy. You can’t satisfy customers until you have them.

    –Doug

    • Thanks Doug, every job has things that we don’t like doing. As you point out, if we don’t do them, we never get the opportunity to do the things we like! Thanks, as always for the great comment.

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