With smaller groups or one on one’s, I frequently talk about “The Joy of Selling….” To some this concept may seem a little too soft and abstract. Some react, “Dave, we’ve got to focus on hitting the numbers, achieving our growth goals! It’s tough work and sellers need to be tough minded!”
Increasingly, I don’t encounter many people, at all levels, that are proud of being sellers. It’s become just “a job.” Or increasingly a “struggle.” Too many view customers and prospects as objects we have to overcome or as the objects that stand in the way of our ability to achieve our goals.
I used to joke, “Selling would be great if it weren’t for those damn customers!” Today, it seems too many take that seriously.
Through my career, I have always taken great pride and joy in being a selling professional. This doesn’t mean I have always been successful. I’ve lost my share of deals, I’ve missed the number, my teams have missed the number. We’ve often struggled!
And, even when I and my teams succeeded, it was never easy. I’ve seldom been involved in a company with a “hot product” that sold itself. I’ve never been at a place where we struggled to answer the phones or respond to emails with customers wanting to buy our products. I’ve always been involved in very complex solutions addressing very tough business challenges.
I think it is the experience of overcoming these huge challenges (sometimes self inflicted), and succeeding that has created that great pride and joy in selling.
My friend, Spence Wixom, expressed in beautifully: “You can’t separate the joy from the struggle inherent in achieving it… it’s the fuel that makes me want to do it again and again and again!”
I can think of few roles that have such an impact. The opportunity to help our customers achieve–helping them change, address tough problems, change, succeed. In some cases, it’s helping them keep their jobs and grow.
And it’s this work that enables our own organizations to succeed. If we don’t succeed, as sellers, our organizations won’t succeed. If our peers don’t succeed and find the same joy we have, we will never be able to achieve our full potential.
For the past 15 years, we have had such a focus on mechanizing the process. Automating as much as we can, providing tools that focus more on completing tasks than producing results. Sellers have become replaceable widgets on an assembly line optimized for growth regardless of cost (figuratively and literally). And despite the fact that model is broken and failing, we persist in dehumanizing the selling and buying experience.
And, as a result, we lose the joy of selling. We are no longer proud of the work that enables us to grow and achieve. We are simply exhausted and burned out!
I am seeing some signs of this terrible trend reversing. There are a small number of leading/innovative organizations that recognize that buying and selling is about human interaction. They recognize that every human interaction is, by definition, messy. And it is the ability to persevere and help make sense of this messiness, that brings us great joy.
To be a professional seller is such an Adrenalin rush! To achieve through helping our customers, peers, and organizations achieve is intensely rewarding.
I can’t think of anything more challenging and fun.
And I, along with so many other professional sellers, get the privilege of doing this every day!
I am so proud and take such great joy in being a professional seller.