After thousands of hours of study and many years honing technical skills to be a competent professional in your chosen field, it can come as a rude shock that you now need to sell your services and capabilities as well. In today’s busy market, a competent selling capability isn’t a “nice-to-have” it is an essential business and life skill.
Interestingly, the topic of selling and growing a business often doesn’t feature in those university lectures does it? In fact, selling is in many cases covered over and, if spoken about at all, was only mentioned as an unsavoury aspect employed by the desperate. “We don’t have to sell because we are…” are the famous last words of many failed professional or small business owners who focus only on their domain of expertise as the distinguishing factor. Well those days are well and truly over.
This myopic view of the essential life skill of selling has often left people feeling vulnerable, confused and financially worse off. No longer can you rely upon only your technical competence to guarantee your success or wait around for passive referrals.
The bad press that often accompanies the profession of selling doesn’t help either. Often the only ‘selling’ stories we hear or read about in the media are those about shonky operators exploiting anyone they can, especially the vulnerable and weak. For instance, the plethora of insulation businesses and telemarketing firms exposed as fraudulent and incompetent has done nothing for the PR of selling. This type of behaviour is labelled as ‘selling’ by the media, which I argue is incorrect. The type of behaviour and intentions exhibited by these operators and other ‘shonk merchants’ is actually fraud and deception, and in some cases bullying and intimidation. That is not selling. This is one reason why many people don’t want to be in sales. Who wants to be associated with ‘shonk’?
There is another issue too, the old Australian legacy of the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome. Heaven forbid that you take proactive control over your destiny by getting out there and promoting your business and your capabilities so others may benefit. Heaven forbid that you actually make a name for yourself. ‘Who do they think they are?’ or ‘They’ve got tickets on themselves’ are some of the catch cries from people who begrudge those who get up and make what they do visible to other people.
These syncs often confuse proactive, ethical self-promotion, prospecting, and selling practices with self- grandiose, boasting or big noting. Sure there are a few people for who this is true; it’s all about them. While these people can be highly entertaining in some instances, people often tire of them if there is nothing of real value and substance to support them. The truth is one can lead a very successful sales career without becoming a boastful, self-absorbed git. In fact, the research into highly effective sales professionals shows they are often humble, highly self-aware, collaborative, see the big picture and details, effective at what they do, and have a ‘we’ not ‘me’ focus. They are very capable, resourceful, and engender trust on all levels. They are worth knowing. Is this what most of us want for ourselves? Don’t we want people to know that if they work with us they will be better off as a result?
Despite the overexposure of those shonky operators by the media or the cringe factor brought about by the ‘tall poppy’ critics, there are a lot of good untold stories about ethical selling practices out there. They often don’t make the mainstream media or general conversations because they are happening everyday in millions of ways. It’s a bit like IT, we never celebrate or talk about the fact that our IT system hasn’t crashed, we only hear and complain about it when something goes wrong.
Yet many people struggling with the concept of selling pay good money to go on selling skills courses to learn how to sell and yet they never put it into practice. So before you pay money for selling skills, examine the state of your mind; the beliefs, feelings, and intentions you hold about selling.
Your beliefs, not your abilities, could be holding you and your career hostage. Before you can dedicate the energy to become skilful and masterful in something as complex as selling, you need to want to sell.
So let’s cut to the chase, for those of you who now need to consciously include the capability of selling in your business mindset and skills, here are a few things to consider:
- Why do you need to sell? Who will benefit from you being able to sell competently?
- How will ethically and proactively promoting and selling your capabilities help you and your clients?
- What is your current view of selling? Do you hold onto a view that makes you feel ashamed of selling? How is that view affecting your ability to keep your business healthy and viable?
- Can you reframe your thinking about selling? See it as a way to make what you do visible to the people who need to know about you so they can benefit from your skills and talent?
- How do you feel about the statement ‘everybody lives by selling something’?
- How can selling be incorporated into your business and align with your ethical values and desire to run an honourable business?
- Do you feel worthy of being able to earn what you are worth?
Sadly, limiting beliefs about selling are a significant issue for many people and something that can be overcome with patience, clarity and persistence. If this is an issue for you please feel free to contact us to discuss this further. We would be happy to help you get started on your sales career.
Remember, everybody lives by selling something.
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Sue Barrett is a Thought Leader on 21st century sales training, sales coaching, sales leadership, sales capability and sales culture. She practices as a coach, advisor, speaker, facilitator, consultant and writer and works across all market segments with her skilful team at BARRETT. They help people from many different careers become aware of their sales capabilities and enable them to take the steps to becoming effective, and productive when it comes to selling, sales coaching or sales leadership. Sue and her team are your first and best reference when it comes to forging out a successful career as a competent sales professional and leader . If you have an idea, capability, product, service or opportunity that can benefit another and make their life better in some way then Sue says you need to be able to sell – ethically, honourably, and effectively. To hone your sales skills or learn how to sell go to www.barrett.com.au.