By Todd Cohen
If you’re reading this, then you are in sales. Everyone is part of a sales culture, whether you are in the “C” suite, or a member of the legal or administrative department; whether you own your business or are the receptionist in a Fortune 500 company. A sales culture means that everyone’s in sales. Does this mean that all employees have to stop doing what they are doing and make some cold calls? Nope. A sales culture means that each and every employee—regardless of title or tenure—understands that they have a profound impact on a customer’s decision to say “yes.” Put simply, everyone’s in sales because everyone needs to sell themselves well to succeed!
Every Conversation and Interaction We Have Is an Opportunity to Sell Our Skills, Knowledge, Ideas or Ourselves.
Every single conversation is a bona-fide selling moment. Those conversations are the opportunity to make an impression that begins to build or continue a relationship. There is no such thing as a lost conversation or one that does not count. Every single interaction you have means you have about 7-10 seconds to engage someone in a way that makes them want to know more or continue the conversation. Once this is understood and thought of proactively you can comprehend that you are constantly selling yourself.
There are two types of sales people: the ones who self-identify as being in sales and everyone else. These people are the “non–professional sales person” (NPSP). People are exercising the basics of sales far more often than they think. From lawyers to the owners of the local fast food restaurant—they are all in sales.
Then there are the people in companies who need to sell something internally. One common example that comes to mind is someone engaged in research and has a great idea that needs funding to make it happen. It has to be sold to the bosses! You’ve all used and heard the term “it has to be sold” or “we need buy in” when referring to something internal to your companies or in your personal lives.
Regardless of how you see yourself, here is the point that needs to be firmly and unequivocally understood. Telling people that they are in sales usually provokes two types of reactions. The first being “Yep, I agree.” The second reaction is “nope, not me—’m not in sales.” The latter is sometimes said with a slightly confused gaze, but the intent is there. Everyone is exercising the fundamentals of sales far more often than they think.
It is also a fact that some non-professional sales people will vehemently deny this entire concept because in some way there is a fear that being thought of as having to “sell” is not something they have to do. The older guard of the NPSP did not have to sell as we think of it today. Business came by referral and word of mouth. Oh, the times have changed!
How Non-Professional Sales People Sell: Sales fundamentals take place in non-sales settings constantly. Conversing, handling objections, networking, building relationships, listening and helping are all selling motions. The fundamental skills of selling are the same skills that you use every day in some fashion. Most of the time you don’t realize it and when it’s pointed out the usual reaction is “Hey…I’m not in sales” or “Sales…that’s not my job!” It cannot be said often enough – when you talk you sell. It’s the same and synonymous motion. When you speak, people form an impression very quickly and that is a selling activity. So, the NPSP is as much a sales person every day as much as the professional sales person. The only difference is that a professional sales person is getting paid to sell. The NPSP gets what they want by selling themselves, ideas and passions and as a result good thigs happen. Sometimes those good things are monetary like a raise. Your ability and proactive recognition that you sell all the time leads to good things.
Selling is not something that requires people to stop what they are doing and do something different. It is not a mode change. It is rooted in solid relationship building and developing trust. It is not unlike complex solution selling that we sales professionals experience all the time. In other words, selling is “don’t do anything different, think differently about what you do.” What you do every day impacts and influences people in many different ways—and that’s sales! Things do not happen magically in a vacuum. You need to get out there and sell yourself and your ideas so you can get what you want, need and deserve!
Some great advice is just to relax, be natural and listen to your target “buyer.” If you get too wrapped up in thinking too much about it then you will have some (big) challenges. Listen, ask questions and see how you can help. Have your facts ready and make sure they are right. “Facts don’t lie.” Facts help the selling process for everyone.
Companies with a Sales Culture Do Better. Companies with a sales culture have one indelible quality that defines them: every single person knows their role and not just what their title implies. Selling is a complex process and it is no longer a linear relationship between the sales person and the client. There is not a sale that could happen without the help and input of many people around the organization. Everyone has a systemic role and everyone does something that helps a customer say “yes.” People thinking “sales, not my job” are people who will keep the company mired in mediocrity because they think that selling is something else that they have to do in addition to their job. The point is that their job is sales and what they do is vital to the company engaging and closing more customers.
Todd Cohen, CSP is an accomplished and sought after speaker, sales culture expert and author of Everyone’s in Sales and Everyone’s in Sales; STOP Apologizing. Todd’s dynamic and motivational presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of career path or position, everyone is a salesperson. Since 1984, Todd has led sales teams to deliver more than $850 million in revenue for leading companies including Xerox and Thomson-Reuters.