Everyone Sells

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This weekend, I read Daniel Pink’s To Sell is Human, in which he explicitly makes it clear that while salesmen specialize in selling, all of us engage the activities as part of our jobs and lives. In his “What Do You Do at Work?”, people reported spending 40% of their time engaged in “non-sales” selling – persuading, influencing and convincing others. And, they consider this aspect of their work crucial to their professional success – even in excess of the considerable amount of time they devote to it.

Interestingly, he relates experiences of the last of the Fuller Brush salesman in San Francisco, a company I had personal experience with during the summer when I was 16, when I worked as the delivery person for a team of Fuller Brush men! Offered the opportunity to learn to sell, I refused: I was too shy and introverted, so I’d rather “die that sell to a stranger.” Yet, after several weeks, on a slow day, rather than go home, I decided to see if I could do it. I wasn’t willing to be trained, preferring to try on my own, in a “low potential” building, so I wouldn’t hurt the real salespeople. I committed to two hours of trying. As I reached the last door left in the building with only 15 minutes left to finally get a sale, I closed a sizable sale! (Looking back, I think that I got it because the buyer assumed I was working to make money for college, and was sympathetic.)

When I realized the commission was lucrative, I switched roles for the rest of the summer. Still to shy to accept full field training, I made more money that summer than all my friends! As the saying goes, the rest is history. I learned to master the selling of ideas, services and products so I could to be effective in my career at selling, at managing sales people, and at training sales and marketing people to make winning presentations.

As Larry Ferlazzo says, “elicit from people what their goals are for themselves and have the flexibility to frame what you do in that context.” (In fact, Presentation Excellence is offering a unique executive sales needs assessment, presentation and closing training workshop on August 22.)