Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Sell" is Just a Four-Letter Word

Sell is just a four-letter word. So is "help".

Most people I have spoken with including sales professionals have a certain aversion to the words sell or sales. "I don't like be considered a salesman," one salesman told me. "How so?" I asked. With a crusted smile he proceeded to tell me that people including customers and potential customers, equate sales people and selling with shadiness, aggressiveness, and dishonesty. Maybe this is why so many people hate to "sell" themselves or their services. Everyone in an organization is a sales person. How many times have you heard, "As an employee you represent the company"? Or, "To acquire top talent we have to sell our company and its people."? But if sales people are one of the highest paid
professionals in the world, why do so many people shy away from "selling"? Me thinks the answer lays in one's intentions.

Think and or feel the difference in intentions between "selling" and "helping". The former means to some, convincing a buyer to purchase something. The latter refers to providing assistance; to aid, to guide and support. Helping, in a sales context, provides service to what is needed and or desired. Of course, influencing can create desire.

One of the best "salesman" I knew was a man who sold insurance. Arthur knew how to help and he also provided excellent customer service. His greatest skill was listening and through listening in showed a lot of understanding. Art knew his clients very well and his clients trusted him in return. That trust allowed Art to suggest additional insurance products to his customers. The suggested products were not unreasonable or extravagant. "You never know...You have good coverage now but if you want to be on the safe side of safe consider this coverage as well," Is what Art always said when his clients would have considered additional insurance. In helping his clients Art's revenue grew along with his reputation for being a trusted adviser. Art's intentions were to sincerely help his customers feel safe and secure. It also helped that he really cared about his customers as fellow human beings.

About influencing: Influencing and selling are two different things. You can't sell if you don't first create desire. What is desirable to one customer may not be desirable to another. Unless you understand what motivates a customer you won't be able to influence them to trust and purchase your products and services. So, think about making a "helping" call instead of a "sales" call. Consider your intentions before you make that call. Your sales revenue, referrals, and reputation and standing within your industry and community will increase ten-fold.

Art retired a very rich man.
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