That was the first line of a tweet I randomly happened across a few days ago. The tweet finished by declaring “those who have jobs and those who have jobs because of people who sell”. Whoa and OUCH!
This was (to me) a condescending tweet and a slap in the face to everyone who does not self-identify as a salesperson. I replied ” Nope. “Everyones in Sales”. Respectfully your statement reinforces the negative stereotypes of salespeople and keeps silos up. These words don’t help salespeople succeed. They sow the ranks of division.” What transpired was actually my first twitter “war” ( ok, that’s a little dramatic), but there was a brief back and forth where this individual got personal and made it about me. Defensive and silly. I was loosely accused of having a thin skin, needing therapy and ( not loosely) just trying to reinforce my brand. Uh, every time anyone tweets they are reinforcing their brand. Whatever. Since this tweet said something that I think – on its face is wrong, I took exception. For what its worth, I am not a big twitter person, don’t engage in it and usually tweet other interesting stuff as much as my own drivel.
I digress. I write this not to talk about this twitter “hit and run”. There is no need to make this about the tweets. I don’t care about that. I do care about a much bigger message here that that tweet started for me. I see so many tweets that are nothing more that than a regurgitation of other peoples content or someones “thought of the moment.” I write this because this statement taken at face value has high potential to be damaging and prevents a collaborative culture and healthy workplace.
Today’s sales professional has a very difficult job. Customers are smart, educated and it takes more people than the just the sales professional to make a deal happen.
As a result, many people will lend their skill to the ultimate deal closing and that fact flies in the face of this tweet. Yes, that’s why I am passionate about companies creating a sales culture. ( Uh oh, there I go reinforcing my brand again!)
When I read this tweet, I had a memory of rogue salespeople I have known who would refer to anyone not in sales as ” just the ….” or the back office” or even worse as “overhead”. This corrosive perspective led to an “us vs. them” culture. For those of us who don’t think this way, it made our job that much harder. I took this statement at face value and while this could have actually created a healthy dialogue, it didn’t. No doubt this could have been meant another way and perhaps the author indeed had another meaning. Ce la vie.
I do want to send a message here: professional salespeople are at a disadvantage every day.We suffer from the negative stereotype of who we are and what we do and how we do it. We need to work harder to create trust. We don’t need our colleagues to think they owe us their jobs and livelihoods because of us. Quite the opposite. We need each other to succeed and anything that sends a contrary message create havoc for us all. Since I like to live by the maxim of “assuming positive intent”, I choose to do that here. I do think this tweeter meant no harm. I do think we as sales professionals have to be extra diligent about the words that we use and how they communicate our value and beliefs. People have all kind of negative beliefs and we don’t need possibly careless words to steepen the road we travel. I have seen enough arrogant and overly cocky sales people for a lifetime.
I am now off to therapy to get my skin thickened and learn about how salespeople think. Maybe I can do some brand reinforcement along the way.
Todd’s dynamic and motivational keynotes and workshops are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $950 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters. You can also see Todd’s articles on Sales Culture in many magazines, trade journals and theHuffington Post.
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