Selling–It’s Not Just for Salespeople. Do You Have What It Takes?


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Perpetual gridlock defines Washington, DC these days–whether it refers to our chronic traffic or Congress.

One thing everyone can agree on: any law that eventually gets passed requires selling. Lots of it. Whether it’s hard-selling, over-selling, underhanded selling or just plain-old selling depends on your point of view. But “selling healthcare reform” yielded 89,600 search results. Clearly, selling’s not just for salespeople.

If you ask most people about selling, they’ll tell you “Oh, I could never do that!” And while it’s true that people often don’t aspire to the stereotype Alec Baldwin portrayed in Glengarry Glenross, the good news is, you don’t have to be Alec Baldwin. Or anyone else. Just yourself. Why? Because most people possess the innate talent required—even if they don’t “carry a bag,” as we say in the sales world when referring to a quota-carrying individual sales contributor.

If you don’t believe me, try this quick quiz:

On more than one occasion, have you

• Persuaded a person or group to take a specific action?
• Held a stimulating conversation with someone you just met?
• Won something you were competing for, and enjoyed the experience?
• Rebounded purposefully from a loss or setback?
• Sought to understand how others perceive your actions so you could make adjustments in your behavior?
• Intentionally helped someone else to succeed at something?
• Made a decision that was ethically correct even though it wasn’t in your financial best interest?

If you answered yes to all of these, you have the basic skills needed to succeed in any selling situation. Does this mean you’d be a great career salesperson? Not necessarily. But whether you’re filling a sales role temporarily or working as part of a collaborative team, rolling up your sleeves and jumping into sales meetings won’t be a waste of time. Your selling skills will serve you today and well into the future.

If you want to improve your skills without enduring hours of selling skills PowerPoints and training videos, you can! Here’s a short list of sales do‘s and don’ts:

Do: make inquiry and discovery a main purpose of your sales appointments.
Don’t: Rely on show and tell about your product or service, and walk away without knowing what your prospect really wants.

Do: endeavor to see the world through your prospect’s eyes. Understand the outcomes your prospect seeks—not just the product features.
Don’t: expect that your prospect cares about your company or your products.

Do: make your motivations transparent to your prospect, and insist on transparency in return.
Don’t: create an environment in which honesty and candor are stifled.

Do: reinforce and respect your prospect’s decision options throughout the sales process.
Don’t: assume only one possible outcome for your sales engagement.

When my kids were preparing for a martial arts tournament recently, the Grand Master instructed them about how to present themselves to the judges. “Don’t slouch! Don’t give your name in a soft voice!” Instead, he told them “you should scare the judges!”

In selling, we don’t need to take it that far, but you get the point: Be confident. You have the talent!


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