Sales Is a Profession

If sales isn’t a profession, what is it?

People often refer to sales as a trade in an attempt to distinguish it from a profession. The definition of a trade is “a skilled job, typically requiring manual skills and special training.” Both a carpenter and a brain surgery would meet that definition.

The definition of profession is “a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and formal qualification.” The “paid occupation” part of that definition covers a lot of work that one might do. So does the prolonged training. It’s the formal qualification part that a lot of people believe is missing in sales.

Some people believe that the lack of a university degree, or some other certification, disqualifies certain work from being a profession.

Becoming a lawyer takes three years of law school before you are eligible to take the bar exam and be formally qualified to practice. After doing so, law is your profession. But there are plenty of terrible lawyers who are trained and certified.

Medicine is a profession. But there are plenty of terrible doctors to offset the many excellent doctors practicing. It’s interesting that both lawyers and doctors are “practicing” their “professions.”

There are professional engineers and architects, too. In one building I visit regularly the architect and engineer who redesigned the building built walls over the existing carpet. They may be “professionals” but their work isn’t.

Why are there “professional comedians” and “professional football players” and “professional writers” and “professional musicians,” none of whom have any formal certification. It’s because it’s difficult to teach what a comedian, writer, or athlete does.

Like these human endeavors, a lot of what salespeople do is difficult to quantify. Like all the professions listed above, the training and formal certification says nothing about the skills or abilities of the individual practicing the profession.

Whether you are a professional or not has nothing to do with your University education or your formal certification. It has everything to do with how you approach your work, your intentions, and your willingness to give yourself over to your craft.

Sales is a profession if you treat it like it is. If you treat it like something less, it will be that for you too.

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