People who are not in traditional sales roles are being asked more and more by their companies to source new business. Attorneys often say, “I didn’t go to law school to sell.” Accountants, consultants, sales support, engineers, bankers, and account managers are sometimes faced with the task of participating in the selling process.

The quote I hear is: “If I wanted to sell, I’d have a sales job.”

A few things are happening:

  • Retirement. Baby boomers are retiring. Kind of. (“We really don’t want to, so perhaps we’ll consult for awhile. At any rate, we’re not as available as we used to be.”)
  • Budget cuts. Everyone is asked to do more with less.
  • The connection. Companies are finally acknowledging that everyone in an organization knows someone who could be a connection, or link, to a new client or client network.

Sales Is Not a Dirty, Five-Letter Word!

Most of us hadn’t planned to go into sales as a career. In fact, until a few years ago, colleges didn’t offer program degrees in selling. Things are changing.
Selling has received a bad reputation because of stereotypes created by a few “bad apples.” The stereotypical image of a used-car salesman is that he is a pushy, arrogant, egotistical dealmaker. And a bad dresser, to boot. These qualities don’t serve the sales industry well.

Good sales experts are just the opposite of this clumsy, thoughtless, ugly stereotype. Think of a time when you left a selling interaction and thought to yourself, “That was a really good salesperson.” The positive attributes are universal:

  • she listened
  • asked good questions
  • cared about me
  • gave me options to think about
  • was interested and genuine
  • Isn’t that who you are?

Selling Is Not: Winning a Deal at Any Cost

Selling is about doing what is best for the customer at all costs. It is always about creating measurable business results for our clients. If you can’t help your clients with their business, you shouldn’t be doing business with them. Be willing to walk away from situations that aren’t right, and when you may not be the right fit for the client.

This doesn’t mean leaving a client in the lurch. It does mean offering a referral to someone who has the expertise you don’t.

Sales Success Is Leveraging Your Relationships

You know lots of people from many different areas of your life. Consider your community groups, hobbies, volunteer organizations, sports, service providers, family, neighbors, and friends. The list goes on and on. Companies are asking you to leverage these relationships by finding out who these people know and what their network is.

You’re not asking your contacts to do business with you. You want to know whom they know (and how and when they can refer you).

It’s a dramatically different dynamic. People are delighted to help.

You just need to ask. (Read “If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Sell” (Back in the Black newsletter, Feb. ’09)

Sales Success Is Redefining the Concept of “Selling”

I want you to change how you think about selling. Several clients tell me they don’t “sell”, and we can’t use the word “sales” in our discussions. I respect their point of view, but I also help them think differently about selling. Good salespeople are authentic and genuine. When you are sincere, care about your clients, and ask your contacts who they know, you are selling in the only way I know how. As a respected professional.

What do you think about sales now? We all have to “sell” to succeed.

Are you willing to help your organization grow?