One of my favorite topics to talk and write about is my profound belief that EVERYONE is in Sales! This doesn’t mean everyone needs to be a professional sales representative.
What it does mean is that everything you do every day helps a customer “yes” to your company. Or your boss to say “yes” to a promotion. Or your colleagues to say “yes” to helping you with a big project. Put simply, everyone’s in sales because everyone needs to sell themselves well to succeed!
Every Interaction We Have Is an Opportunity to Sell Our Skills, Knowledge, Ideas, or Ourselves.
When I say this to an audience I will term, “the non–professional sales person” (NPSP), it usually gets one of two responses. The first being a blank, terrified stare or a solid “Yep, I agree”. The latter is sometimes said with a slightly confused gaze, but the intent it there. It is always somewhat amusing to me that the people in the former category think I am somehow telling them that they need to report to the local Chevy dealer the next day to start selling Suburbans! The look of fear is palpable and oh so real! So my message to all of the NPSP’s is that “It’s ok”. You will survive. I promise. We sales professionals really do want you in the club! It is a fun club!
We all are exercising the basics of sales more often than we think. Lawyers, doctors, accountants, home contractors, the folks who own the local McDonalds. They are are ALL in sales. Then there are the people in companies who need to sell something internally. One common example that comes to mind is someone engaged in research and has a great idea that needs funding to make it happen. It has to be sold to the bosses! We have all used and heard the term “it has to be sold” when we are referring to something internal to our companies or even in our personal lives.
It is also a fact that some non-professional sales people will vehemently deny this entire concept because in some way there is a fear that being thought of as having to “sell” is not something they have to do. I find this to be a generational thing as well. The older guard of the NPSP’s did not have to sell as we think of it today. Business came by referral and word of mouth. Oh, the times have changed!
How Non-Professional Sales People Can Sell
I have worked with various members of different professions (card-carrying members of the NPSP club) and I like that many of them see the bigger picture and some get it (quite naturally) that selling is not something requires them to stop what they are doing and do something different. It is not always a mode change. It is rooted in solid relationship building and developing trust. It is not unlike complex solution selling that we sales professionals experience all the time.
I have been asked many times what advice I would give to the non-professional sales person on how they can learn to sell and not have it feel like they have to learn something new or get some training ( although I am a big fan of training and interactive learning).
I think the best advice I ever gave was just to relax, be natural and listen to your target “buyer”. If you get to wrapped up in thinking too much about it then you will have some (big) challenges. Listen, ask questions and see how you can help. Have your facts ready and make sure they are right. A very dear friend of mine once said to me “facts don’t lie”. Facts help the selling process for us all. That is the advice I have given to the NPSP’s and the feedback is that it has worked pretty well. Its no different than what we sales pros already know! Right?
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