A recent prompt suggested that one should only work in sales because they want money or because they want to compete. The second part of the prompt suggested that “helping other people” was not a reason to work in sales. Leaving aside that fact that everyone on Earth wants more money (including Buffet, Munger, Gates, Bezos), a desire for money is not the only reason one might decide to work in sales. As to competition, I don’t know that we acknowledge that aspect enough for people to recognize sales as the place where they belong. There are, however, other good reasons to work in sales outside of money alone.
Money Is An Outcome
Before we get to the many reasons you might want to work in sales (or have chosen to), it’s important to clear up some incorrect ideas about money. Money is an outcome. There are only a few ways money is exchanged: 1.) theft, and 2) the exchange of value. The way one increases their income is by creating greater value for others. Increases beyond creating value for others only occurs when you create value for larger numbers of people. What this means is the only legitimate way to increase your income is by helping others.
I believe I am the only person to have written a book on competitive displacements. The first chapter of that book, Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away From Your Competition was a strategy for positioning yourself as a trusted advisor and consultative salesperson and creating a compelling case for your dream client to leave their current supplier. That book also reminds you that only win clients by creating greater value for your dream clients, not by focusing on your competitors, except for differentiating yourself in positive ways.
In The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need, I dedicated a chapter to competition because I believe a desire to win makes winning a more likely outcome. If you are dead set on winning, you will do the work. The desire to win does compel many people to work on improving themselves.
In all things, you should avoid most ideas that people present as being mutually exclusive. In most cases, replacing the word “or” with the word “and” creates a more accurate picture. The idea that you can either be money-motivated or possess a desire to help other people is hogwash. Many people are capable of both.
Reasons You Might Choose to Work In Sales
Here is a list of other reasons you might want to work in sales, outside of a money-motivation, in the order in which they occurred to me.
- Autonomy and Working Independently: There are few areas in business where you have as much independence as sales. You determine what work you do, when you do it, and how you do it. If your natural disposition pulls you towards a type of freedom and you have the self-discipline to will yourself to work without anyone needing to hold you accountable, selling is an excellent choice.
- Solving Difficult Problems for Other People: In B2B sales, we help people with difficult problems or challenges, even if one of those challenges might be taking advantage of new opportunities. One of the more difficult problems we solve is helping people make a change in their organization (something you might recognize by the word “consultative.”) If that is interesting or exciting to you, a role in B2B sales might be the right choice.
- Need New Experiences: The type of people that do well in sales tend to need new experiences. In sales, the people you work with (clients and prospects) are always changing. The challenges you help them with vary from client to client. Without saying more, there tends to be more than a fair bit of drama, and any two days are rarely the same.
- Desire a Role Where Growth is Necessary: There is a reason I write as much about growth, success, and productivity here. These are variables to success that, while being prevalent in many professions, seem to help or hinder people more in sales. Success in sales is individual, not situational. There are two groups of people who tend to focus on their growth and development, leaders and salespeople (in both cases, growth is necessary to improve the individual and their results).
- Working With Other People: You spend the most substantial part of your time in sales working with other people. If you don’t like working with other people, you are not likely to be either happy or prosperous in sales. However, if you enjoy meeting new people, if you are good with people, if you have fast rapport skills, if you are good at maintaining relationships, sales may be a natural fit.
- A Desire to Be a Businessperson: There are not many roles you might obtain that will do as much to make you a well-rounded businessperson or expose you to so many different businesses, different companies, or the full range of diverse strategies and tactics. In most B2B sales role, you have the opportunity to work across industry verticals. Because your work exposes you to many different businesses, you become a much better business person. You gain considerably more business acumen and situational knowledge than many other roles.
- Compensated for Results: Because compensation structures in sales are based on your contribution, those who desire a role where their company pays them for their results find their way into sales. In most positions, you have little control over your income. In a sales role, better results bring bigger rewards.
- Willingness to Be Accountable for Results: Sales comes with a higher degree of accountability than other professions. First, you are accountable for your results. Second, you are responsible for the outcomes you sell your client. The willingness or desire to be accountable for results is another reason some of us find our way into sales roles.
When you look at success in any endeavor, you invariably find a complex and complicated mix of factors. The idea that the only essential attribute one need look at is a money-motivation is to ignore other characteristics, many of which may be even more vital. Whether you are hiring a salesperson or deciding on a career in sales, a view that takes into account additional factors improves your decision-making.
Money-motivation with no interest in creating value for others provides for a different outcome than the two of these things together. The few people who want money and who also possess a low Moral Intelligence don’t tend to do in anything for very long, and in some cases, they end up behind bars. Money-motivation without the discipline to accompany the autonomy or the willingness to be accountable for results also isn’t a good combination for a salesperson.
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