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Everybody sells …so, why not you?

Selling is the oldest and most important profession of all time. It transcends all cultures, genders, social classes, religious beliefs, and political divides. Ninety-nine point nine per cent of the world’s population is engaged in selling of some sort. And that includes you. No profession has such a massive following.

It is the only profession that does not require training or academic qualification to start practising. You must be frowning, grinning, or shaking your head in disbelief now. You just don’t believe this assertion to be true, but the truth of the matter is that it is very true.

To be sure you know where I am coming from, let us first understand the meaning of selling. Selling is a persuasive process that is designed to influence the other person to see things from the seller’s perspective, from buying into his idea to accepting his point of view. Whenever a person acts in such a way to influence another person, he is selling. When a baby cries, it is calling its mother’s attention.

It may be hungry or feeling uncomfortable and wants to be attended to. Even when King Ahab returned home from a failed attempt at negotiating a purchasing deal with Naboth for the latter’s vineyard, his demeanour told his wife, Queen Jezebel, what he wanted her to know and do.

The Bible says, “And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread” (emphasis mine) 1 Kings 21:4. He knew his action could elicit the desired reaction from his wife, and it did. Jezebel got him what he wanted but couldn’t get.

When you present a well-crafted application letter and a neatly prepared curriculum vitae to a prospective employer, you are selling yourself to get the job. When you attend the job interview smartly dressed, you are simply trying to influence the interview panel that you are the right guy for the job.

When you say those sweet words to the lady next door with the intent of winning her heart, you are selling yourself as the best suitor for her. Even though everybody sells, not everyone is a salesperson or qualifies to call himself a salesperson until you acquire the requisite knowledge and skills.

So, everybody sells. That is the way of life. From the newborn baby to the oldest person, we all sell. In every situation we find ourselves in, we have to sell something to make some headway, even though we are not aware we are selling.

Those who master the art of selling are more successful at selling than the rest of us. Sadly, only a few people do a great job at it. The vast majority of us are lousy when it comes to selling.

We shrug our shoulders at the thought of selling and declare that selling is not for us. Be not deceived. Everybody sells―from the baby on his mother’s breast to the CEO of the largest conglomerate.

To be proficient, to excel at persuading and influencing people to do your bidding, you cannot depend on your natural abilities. To master the craft of salesmanship today requires the right academic and professional training, and only those who make time to learn the science and art of salesmanship reap the tremendous benefits that come with the profession.

Sell or Perish

Business entities produce products or services for consumption. Nothing happens until they sell what they have produced. Of all the functions of business, it is selling that generates income and makes a profit to pay employees and grow the company. Companies that fail to sell more than they expend can survive for long.

A business entity’s survival, therefore, depends on its ability to sell its products or services. That is how important sales is to the survival of the business entity and by extension, those who work in it. Little sales can be achieved without an active salesforce. Even in this day and age, when we buy items online, companies still people to manage the sales effort, and sales professionals to generate sales.

Everybody Sells!

For many years, International Business Machines (IBM) was one of the leading global marketing organizations. Even though the owners built it into a superior marketing organization, they did not lose sight of the role sales must play. They created a complete sales-oriented environment. It is common knowledge among those who know IBM well that “At IBM everybody sells! Every employee has been trained to think that the customer comes first.” They taught their salesforce to engage in solution-minded selling with the understanding that “people buy products for what they can do, not for what they are.”

The “everybody sells” philosophy is still relevant in our age of the Internet and social media. When some futurists thought the coming of the Internet and social media with their attendant online sales, the role of the salesperson is going to be irrelevant. That has not been the case.

Selling should not be considered the preserve of the sales team. Every company employee should be taught the role and value of the sales function to the fortunes of the company. Each employee’s salary, benefits, and pecks can only be guaranteed when the salespeople bring in the revenue. They should understand how their various duties impact on the company’s sales efforts and ultimately its bottom line results. The claims officer who sits on a customer’s claims in that insurance company should understand how her actions affect the fortunes of her company.

The CEO as Chief Sales Officer

As the founder and managing director of your fledgling small and medium enterprise (SME) or chief executive officer (CEO) of a multinational corporation, you believe in the products or services your company produces or markets. You believe in your brand promise and hire people to deliver on those promises. If you have such implicit confidence in your products or services, then you must be their chief sales officer.

If you would hire salespeople to sell the value of your solutions, you must sell too. If the Osei Tutus and the Yaa Asantewaas led their people to war, you ought to also lead your sales team to the market. If the managing director or chief executive officer of the company is seen at the forefront of sales, persuading people with enthusiasm, you can imagine the outcome. Of course, you have teams to lead, problems to solve, crucial decisions to make, and important meetings to attend, but you can still make time to make your presence felt in the field. Besides being a morale booster to the sales team, it will change how customers perceive you, your company, and your products and services. Nothing works more powerfully to drive sales than to see the chief executive officer stepping into the field to attest to the efficacy of his products and services.

About the Author

The author is a performance management consultant, business trainer, and editor with an uncompromising passion for excellence. For more information, contact him at +233 27 743 3142 or ibkawuku@gmail.com.

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