Sales often has a greasy or slippery image associate with it. The con artist in the film is usually a sales person. The used car salesman is often greedy or just trying to take your money.
Popular culture has twisted our view on what the salesperson is, and who they are. Fast talking, Ferrari driving, coffee drinkers like Alex Baldwin’s character in Glenngary Glenn Ross gives us a sense that the only thing sales people care about, is money.
Old stories of insurance salesmen, kitchenware sales people and high-pressure door-to-door sales arriving at a town and then leaving when they’ve gutted it, are how we see a team of sales people.
In this chapter I want to explore why true sales, and the profession of sales, is not only morally sound career path. But is also one of the most important skills for you to learn both in your business and your day-to-day life.Getting the best possible result for someone
Getting the best possible result for someone
As with most words in the English language, the word sales or sell, has many different origins and argued etymological roots. However it’s pretty much agreed that it’s probably a combination of Nordic language and Latin sel, sala and sal.
In the Roman period soldiers were paid using salt, or salis. This is probably where we get the word “salary” from. Using salt essentially was the salary given to soldiers who are serving their country. The word salt and other old European languages with similar words such as sal and sel, had close ties to the idea of service.
While the words “sale” and “sell”, now mean to give up something in exchange for money, their roots are heavily tied to the service of an audience or a greater purpose.
The very concept of selling and sales, is about getting the best possible result for someone. As soon as you flip your mindset over to the word service, and replace the word “sell” with “service”, you begin to change your definition of what it means to sell something.
If you have a product that can help someone, or a service that can make someone’s life better, would you not argue that it is your moral obligation to get that product or service into the hands of somebody else?
The career of sales was certainly hijacked by people selling products that the world doesn’t need. The old West idea of the snake oil salesman, selling concoctions to rid children of tuberculosis, or photocopier salesman in the 1980’s selling products that businesses didn’t really need, of course have left a blight on the career.
It’s also really common misconception that all salespeople are motivated by money. Yes, the commission is nice. But I know more sales people who have left very well paying and high commission sales jobs, because the management or the company wasn’t supportive.
What does this tell us? That the service of others, and getting the best possible result for people, is not only more attractive to good salespeople but also more sustainable.
When you have a product or service that can make someone’s life better, just like the doctor in the example above, our job and even moral imperative is to get that into the hands of other people.
Let’s say that there are still immoral salespeople willing to make a quick buck out there in the world. You know that their product or service is inferior. Maybe they don’t offer support or guarantee. Maybe the quality of the workmanship isn’t as solid. Maybe the service is oversold and doesn’t deliver the results that the customer expects.
All things being equal, would it not be your moral duty to take money from the hands of your audience and put into your pocket, and deliver them a product or service that will make their life better? Taking money away from immoral salespeople who were delivering a substandard product?
It’s no different from teaching children to invest money and save money wisely, compared to spending it on things they don’t really need.
Our job as business owners and sales people, is to help get the best possible result for someone, using our product or service.
Helping someone make a firm decision
Indecision is probably one of the most common reasons that people’s lives never change.
Many individuals wish for a better life, can’t get over the initial hurdle, fear or even just making a decision. There is so much choice available now, that it has become almost impossible for the average consumer to be sure about their decision.
Even before the decision over a selection of products or services, the choice about what to look for in the first place can be overwhelming.
One of the biggest misconceptions about why people don’t buy, is not the money, or the price, it’s the fear of making the wrong choice. Many people are worried that their decisions are permanent and will affect them for the rest of their life.
Even if a product will make someone’s life better, make someone’s life easier and improve the results they’re getting. The mental energy it takes to arrive at a decision is often the reason that people fail to buy.
The meteoric rise of comparison sites, proves that people are looking to compare products on a like-for-like basis. YouTube reviews, blog post reviews and entire podcasts dedicated to single lines of products, shows that people want more information.
The problem however is that more information, inhibits our ability to make a decision. Often called “analysis paralysis”, the phenomena dictates that overwhelming some with facts and information hurts their chances of buying the right product.
As someone who is dedicated themselves to the service of a particular audience (salesperson), your job is to help your audience make the right decision.
It’s also helping them make a firm decision. By putting less emphasis and weight on the facts, features and data. Focusing more on that customers life, future and benefits, they will arrive at the decision themselves. When you can constructively put arguments together, and help someone see a better potential life ahead of them, that’s when you make a sale.
Taking time to understand their situation, where they want to be and their problems, is in itself an intensive act. I’ve often had customers say how refreshing and almost therapeutic my discovery sessions are because they learn things about themselves.
Because I take the time to learn what they want and need, before making a suggestion, then more likely to make a firm decision.
If you weren’t getting paid, but you talk to someone through their options and explored the best possible decision, and then they confidently took that decision and were happy with their choice. Would you consider that a good moral act? Of course you would. Being rewarded for your knowledge, time, patience and process does not make it immoral.
What makes it immoral is using cheap and fast sales tactics to trick or force someone into making a purchase. Without listening to their story.