You are in SALES!!

When you think of a salesman, what comes to mind? My initial thought is the used car guy who is snapping at your heels the moment you walk onto the lot, or that lady that sprays perfume in your face as you stroll through the department store. Or what about the pesky copier salesman that won’t stop walking into your office at all times of day, or the persistent telemarketer that bothers your office staff? I think my point is made. The term salesman or saleswoman does not usually bring pleasant thoughts to mind. 

On the flip side, have you ever been blown away by a person in the sales role who seemed to listen to your requests without pushing some of their own? I must say, the one store I enjoy shopping in every time is Nordstrom; the people that work there just seem happier and more willing to do whatever it takes. Isn’t that what a salesperson should be like?

Because I have been in sales for a long time, my view is quite different than yours, maybe. I view sales as: the act of trying to influence the decision of another, whether for financial gain or not (so by this definition EVERYONE is in “sales”). 

You might stop here and say, “I’m not in sales. I handle customer service,” or “I can’t be in sales. I’m a stay at home mom.” Both arguments are valid, but don’t hold up when using the above definition. Let’s take the customer service representative at your local insurance agency for example. What if a customer, let’s say Mr. Jones, calls in to ask about his insurance policy and receives horrible customer service. And as a result, Mr. Jones calls a competitor for quotes on his current policy. Is it safe to say that the customer service rep could have influenced his decision to get quotes from a competitor? Or the stay at home mom who doesn’t want her teenage daughter to go on the date with the “bad boy”, does she try different things to influence her daughter’s decision? You bet she does! My point here is that whether for financial gain or not, we are all influencers trying to alter the outcome of different situations.

So what? Who cares? The whole point of the topic this month is to address a phrase I hear quite often: “I’m not in sales.” The reason this bothers me is quite simply because it sounds dismissive, and comes across as, “sales is not my job, my job is_______.” This kind of mentality can lead to an unhealthy culture and be extremely detrimental to the growth of a company. I believe that everyone within a company influences buying decisions, especially given our current market conditions; that is, the competitive, information fueled buying patterns of today’s society. If customer service is not your differentiator, then you better have the most competitive pricing around, as well as some sort of protection from external influencers, such as rising fuel prices, new competitors, etc.

To everyone in business, I suggest that you read a sales related book. At the very least, it will give you perspective on the art of sales, and at the most, it will make your business that much more successful.