Selling - Still The Most Important Skill
Quick SummaryIn modern day business, you can 'mess up' in a number of areas: administration, accounting, distribution etc., but fail at the selling function
?and life comes to a economically painful halt.
The revenue (lifeblood of an organization) is directly related to the selling function. Revenue is the result of your ability to convince customers to buy your products and services, on a daily basis.
Inadequate or dwindling revenue will lead your business to its death, as would humans if our life's blood were cut off or tainted in some way. By contrast, a business with healthy cash flow (good sales) will be able to live a long time and count on a prosperous future. Successful businesses are continually increasing the quantity and quality of their customer database in order to clearly profile qualified prospects and new business opportunities.
Selling has as many definitions as there are different kinds of people. Some say it is the exchange of goods and services for money. To others, it's simply helping people make their decisions.
The best definition I ever heard is also the simplest one. It comes from a friend, mentor and colleague, Tom Stoyan. Known as Canada's Sales Coach, Tom says, "Selling is influencing the thinking of others." He uses only seven words to express ages of thinking, and it doesn't get any better or easier to understand than that.
Whatever you think about selling, you can be sure your perception comes from a lifetime of personal experiences with sales people and as sales people. Most North Americans were introduced to selling (and commerce) in one of two junior enterprises: the newspaper route or the seasonal lemonade stand in the front yard. We sold to our friends and neighbors. We expected them to be supportive and for the most part, they responded kindly. And all of us have firsthand experience at hocking (selling or trading) something while working at the family yard sale.
My 12 year-old son, Kevin got the selling bug about a year ago. We looked at various enterprises and settled on a newspaper route. It fit into our life style and existing time commitments very well. Kevin quickly learned some of the ups and downs of commerce. Namely, suppliers don't always deliver on their promises and customers don't always pay on time. He said, "You wouldn't believe how many people don't even have seven stinking dollars in their house." Getting physically and mentally prepared to "do business" was a real adjustment, since these newspapers have to be delivered by 8:00 AM on Sunday mornings.
A year into it and Kevin is fed up with his supplier and his customers. I can't blame him, but I won't let him quit. I declared, "The world is not perfect, but it's all we have and it's up to each one of us to do our part to make it better". Kevin will have to learn (as all sales people do) how to work with what he has; to find and/or create opportunity in adversity, and how to make the proverbial lemonade out of the lemons we find.
I told him "These hard lessons are important in developing your entrepreneurial mindset." [Sitting in the car trying to get warm, Kevin looks withdrawn. I don't know if it's due to the 20 below temperature on this particular Sunday morning or my lecture on the value of persistence in life and business, maybe both.]
Organizations continually look for the entrepreneurial mindset, superior skills in selling and leadership, and better communication skills in their workers.
When an organization's sales people are doing well, it's a time of feasting. When they're not, it's famine. Even the president of the largest company doesn't get paid until the sales people get their customers to say yes.
If then, "Selling is influencing the thinking of others" and not about crying, pouting or whining, we need to ask ourselves what do we do that makes or breaks our sales? Are we (pushy or persuasive), (arrogant or confident), (practiced, drilled and rehearsed or faking it?) Are we talking about "Faster -Cheaper – Better" as Ron Zimky put it in his great book, Knock Your Socks Off Customer Service?
Why not take inventory of your self-awareness right now by answering these tough-love questions:
1. Are you immersed in activities that find or create selling opportunities on a daily basis?
2. Are you just re-learning the same old childhood lessons year after year or moving on?
3. Are you acquiring new knowledge, developing skills, and committed to delivering your personal best?
4. Are you looking for or creating opportunity in adversity (turning lemons into lemonade)?
These most important questions are what professionals ask themselves every day, because all the high-tech sales force automation and fancy software in the world won't help you in real life if you can't make lemonade.
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