Selling is not a dirty word: How to sell without the negative stereotype

Selling is the life blood of the business environment. Here, we explore top tips to become a successful sales person within your company helping you to realize that it's not a dirty word; it’s client development.

The first step towards becoming a confident sales person is to get comfortable with the idea of selling. What often stands in the way of this goal is a negative stereotype of what selling is, in particular, the things that a sales person does. The good news is that this negative stereotype is very much at odds with what makes a successful salesperson today. But it lurks around, like a ghost or gremlin, whispering in your ear.

Let’s start with where the negative feelings about selling come from. What do you think of when you think of selling? I asked someone this at an event I spoke at last year and their face crinkled up, almost in disgust, “It’s like begging.” I wondered what other images might come to mind for people when they think about selling.

Here are ten I came up with:

“Pushy, spiel, gift of the gab, talkative, extrovert, persistent, manipulative, false, superficial, numbers game.”

What do you think? Perhaps you could add some more to the list.

When you look at the words, what strikes you about them? They’re not exactly positive are they? They’re not the sort of qualities you would say ,make us human. It’s hardly surprising that if we associate them with selling, a negative idea of selling is created.

The first small thing you could do to start to increase your confidence around selling is to change how you think about it. This starts by changing the language you use to describe it. Many of the forward thinkers in sales, in particular Daniel Pink in his book ‘To Sell is Human’, have left the negative ideas behind. They’re now working with an entirely different set of beliefs. And because these beliefs are more human, they make sense to more people. And they also work better so they lead to behaviors that generate better results.

What if you thought about selling in terms of the following qualities. How would these sit with you?

“Empathy, rapport and trust, being consistent, permission, clarity, passion, openness, curiosity, flexibility, resilience.”

What strikes you about the above qualities? Do you feel differently about selling when you see them? Do they better reflect what you do, what you do in your role now? Perhaps you would use them to describe yourself in your current role or how you are in general.

As it happens, these words also describe the behaviors, and personal characteristics of the very best sales people. So, if you possess some of these or feel positively about them, you’re on your way. It’s simply a question of turning them to your advantage. And the first step to doing so is to understand how they look when they show up in a selling context.

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