Maybe You Aren’t a Salesperson

Everyone sells. Even if you don’t work in sales, you are always selling. If you’ve ever tried to change someone’s mind, you were selling. If you have ever asked for a job, you were selling. Remember when you asked for a raise? That was selling, too. And if you have ever asked for a date, you were clearly selling.

Human beings have conversations and we ask for commitments. Selling is about promising some future value in exchange for value. This is all very, very human, and even small children understand the mechanics of selling (if you have children, you know how effective they are, don’t you?). The renowned author, Dan Pink, even wrote a book with the title “To Sell is Human,” explaining how much we sell, even when we aren’t in sales roles.

That said, selling and working in sales are two very different things.

  • In non-sales roles, you don’t have to prospect. You don’t have to go out into the world and open new relationships. In non-sales roles, you aren’t required to cold call, to interrupt people, and competitively displace someone who already has a relationship.

Some people don’t like this work. They are uncomfortable opening new relationships from scratch, and they feel bad about themselves when they interrupt people. This is true even when the people who are interrupting can use their help. I have heard dozens of people with sales titles tell me how much they love working with customers but hate having to prospect.

  • In non-sales roles, you don’t have to ask for the kind of commitments you ask for in sales. You don’t have to control the process either. In non-sales roles, it would be rare that you would ever need 8 or 10 commitments from someone. It is almost certain you wouldn’t have to ask them to make a greater investment than they are presently making, or a greater investment than the three or four other proposals they’d already seen (if this were true, you would be selling). It’s also rare that in a non-sales role you would need ink on a contract.

Asking for investments and for ink on paper is what salespeople do. If it makes you feel uncomfortable to ask people for things that might make them uncomfortable, it isn’t likely you enjoy sales.

I have had salespeople that worked for one of my companies quit to become school teachers. I have had salespeople quit to move into operational roles, roles for which they believed they were better suited. Some salespeople who quit went across the street, hoping that selling would be easier there, only to leave sales for some other non-sales role a few months later. They were never salespeople.

If you don’t love selling, then you aren’t going to do well. And you probably shouldn’t be working sales. Just because you want the money, doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for you, especially if your life’s purpose is really doing something else.

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Filed under: Sales

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