I hate to hear people describe the sales profession in a negative or derogatory way. The “salesy,” “obnoxious” and “pushy” used car salesman comes to mind immediately. There are a lot of things I love in life, and being in sales is definitely high up on that list. I pinch myself often, in amazement with how lucky I am to have been in sales for most of my career. Getting into sales has positively changed my life in many ways. This is why I adamantly defend the sales profession.
Before I closed my first deal, a prospect told me that he wanted to sign with me, but my main competitor had dropped the price by 50%. I told him that I couldn’t do that, and then explained all the reasons the deal made sense to him and his business. He laughed and told me that the contract was in my inbox – signed. That felt amazing! And, when I received my first commission check, it more than doubled my salary. It was then that I became hooked! Add to that the many wonderful people I’ve met over the years – many who are still in my life. The travel that I still get to do both domestically and internationally, the lifestyle that sales affords me, and the fact that I’m continuously learning new things are more reasons I love sales.
But when you hear that someone’s approach is “salesy,” does that sound positive to you? No. And, why? Because it throws all sales people into the pushy “used car salesman” bucket (Note to all used car salespeople: this is not meant to be disrespectful, especially to those who put their customers first. And, for anyone who has purchased a car lately, you’ll notice that in recent years, many dealerships have changed how they sell for the better).
But still, many sales people continue to exhibit bad habits. There will always be sales people who sell like that stereotypical used car salesman by pushing their product or service onto customers or prospects whether they want it or not. That’s the sales person who makes you feel dirty after dealing with them. It’s the one who asks “What keeps you up at night?” And it’s why so many people don’t want “sales” in their job titles. That floors me.
Keep in mind that having sales in your title allows you to ask the tough questions and solve real problems. It’s your job to truly understand your customers and prospects – and know them as well as, or better than, they know themselves. If you’re one of those sales people, then you know that sales can also be a positive thing.
Those who are in the know fully grasp the concept that sales is about building relationships at the right level and working in tandem to help customers or prospects solve their critical business challenges. You provide a product or service at a price and timeline that’s in synch with them, and at a risk tolerance they can accept. You help them succeed both professionally and personally. And, when your customer wins, so do you. It’s not the pushy, “take it or leave it” approach that makes buyers cringe and ultimately does not work.
So, for those of you who are in sales, don’t be the used car salesman. Stand up tall and be proud of your profession. And for those who are looking to get into sales, talk to a sales professional you respect and admire to find out what sales is really about. I will be shocked if you hear any differently than I have written here. To me, sales is challenging, rewarding and never boring. For those of you who love, love, love sales: What do you love about it? Please share your stories!