Sales is a magnificent profession. Yet how many parents dream of their child becoming a salesperson? What did your parents say when you chose this profession? Did you really choose it? Or did you rather adopt it by default? How do you feel doing it? Are you proud? If, like many salespeople, you answered these questions negatively, this article is for you.
In many Western countries, salespeople don’t like to be called salespeople. In France, the country of Descartes, salespeople are called Sales Engineers or Business Engineers, even if they went to a business school and did not study engineering. In English-speaking countries,
where the manager is king, salespeople in industrial companies are called Key Account Managers, and those in the banking sector prefer the title Client Relationship Manager.
Many salespeople say “they are in business”, or “they do business”; it is rare that they say “they are a salesperson”. This poor perception about sales comes from the fact that this profession is perceived to be easy and doesn’t necessarily require a diploma. It is associated with money and the lure of profit, and, too often, the buyer’s feeling of “being had”. It’s true that this profession does not necessarily require a diploma. However, if it takes five years on average to educate an engineer, a doctor or a lawyer, it takes five years to educate a salesperson. This education is not based on long academic training and the essentials are learned in the field, but it does require qualities, skills and distinct knowledge that take time to acquire, develop, and mature.
Sales is, above all, a state of mind that requires discipline, self-confidence, is based on technical and relational skills, and requires psychological acumen. As a consequence, sales is at the same time, a state of mind, an art and a science. In sales, the savoir-être (personality) plus the savoir-faire (behavior) outweighs the importance of the savoir (knowledge). Salespeople that succeed have well developed emotional and relational intelligence, which complement their intellectual intelligence, thus combining a wide range of analytical, logical, intuitive and human skills.
Knowing why you are a salesperson is a simple but fundamental question, very different from knowing why you are in sales. It relates to who you are, not to how or what you do. It is a fundamental question because your life is not a rehearsal.
Knowing why you are a salesperson gives meaning to your professional life. It awakens your creativity by lowering the barriers of your limiting beliefs. It gives you self-confidence because you can easily explain why, how and what you do. This confidence will reinforce trust from others. And creating trust is the sine qua non condition to becoming a successful salesperson because trust is built upon a mix of respect, humility and empathy. Trust is the entry point to inspire your customer.
Knowing why you are a salesperson gives you convictions. In return, having convictions develops, reinforces and nurtures sales leadership. Your sales leadership is the driver to transforming your sales ideas, proposals and projects into reality. Combining the ability of creating trust with strong sales leadership leads you to success.
If you want to know why to become a salesperson, or why to remain one and how to advance, you may find it helpful to use the push–pull approach. In any choice, there is a push side and a pull side. The push side makes us run from what we don’t like. The pull side makes us go toward what we like. Ask yourself: what kind of sales do you prefer? What kind of people do you like to do business with? Which kind of products are you the most comfortable with? And what kind of environment do you like working in?
On a more personal side, developing yourself and becoming even better in your profession as a salesperson requires identifying those areas in which you are good, in order to become excellent. A good way to improve yourself is to conduct your own SWOT analysis, the acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. To do so, you identify, on one hand, your strengths and your inherent weaknesses, and on the other, the external threats and opportunities that come from your ecosystem.
Knowing why you are a salesperson is therefore essential, not only to feel good about yourself, in your daily professional practice and in your relationships with your family and friends, but also to become even better, no matter what your current performance level is. Don’t let anyone else but you, and least of all chance, make the choice of embracing this magnificent profession.
In “Authentic Selling: How to boost your sales performance by being yourself”, we explain and share real life examples on how to boost your sales performance by coaching your clients through an authentic, respectful and empathetic journey to success, how to be proud of being a salesperson by taking your life in hand, knowing why you do what you do, how to take care of yourself and to focus on the essentials of your life and your sales profession.
By Guy Anastaze, PhD.
Cover photo: Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, Christina Hendricks, and January Jones in Mad Men (TV Series).