Restoring Positive Meaning to the Sales Profession
Restoring Positive Meaning to the Sales Profession
As we examined in my last article in this series, a firefighter is nearly always a positive example of their particular profession. Because of this, a firefighter has a positive reputation in society.
Conversely, a salesperson normally does not have such a great reputation. This negative image came about through dramatic and film presentations such as Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and Glengarry Glen Ross. It was also perpetuated through some salespeople who didn’t exactly demonstrate honestly and morality, such as the notorious “used car salesman.”
It is nearly impossible, however, in today’s transparent networked world, to carry on as a dishonest salesperson. One bad sale and the word will spread very quickly. That salesperson will be out of a job and won’t have prospects who willingly deal with them. In short, there’s nowhere to hide.
This transparency also has a positive side—for those who have honest motives, sales is a real opportunity. If they find meaning in sales, they will have a meaningful profession. They will be, to that degree, happy in life, too.
Taking Purpose From the Inside Out
The working world in which we’re engaged for a third or more of our lives is constantly challenging. To deal with this challenge, larger companies hire consultants to assist the company’s employees in finding meaning and purpose in what they are doing.
Employee purpose is actually a vast subject, and it has been written about and discussed extensively. We will be taking it up in much greater detail in the next few months, but I want to briefly touch on it here as it is relevant.
The largest error being committed by today’s businesses, in my opinion, is attempting to make the enterpriseEnterpriseEnterprise (in the context of sales) is a relatively large organization typically composed of multiple levels, locations, and departments which need multi-layer software systems that support collaboration across a large corporate environment.’s purpose the employee’s purpose also. They attempt to make the company’s purpose and culture the center of the person’s life, and then the person’s family and outside activities revolve around that.
Most of us have been in that situation and have felt a bit strange about it. It’s no surprise—for the center of a person’s life is the person themselves, and their own goals and dreams, not those of a company. Even if an organizationOrganizationOrganization is a cohesive group of people working together and formally bound by a shared identity (e.g., one team, company, club, etc.) and a common purpose (e.g., business growth, athletic victory, etc.). is perfect, and has the most ideal working environment possible, if the person does not have the company’s purpose as their own, the company will not be able to impart it to them.
The Best Sales Hires
The best candidates for sales recruits have made the firm and honest decision to pursue sales as a career.
Having that purpose is a substantial benefit, for learning to be a salesperson is not a simple matter. Going back to our firefighter comparison, it takes at least the same amount of time for a salesperson to become a professional as it does a firefighter. Once they’re on the job, firefighters are also constantly practicing, which is something great salespeople must also do.
When Meaning Gets Lost
What is the real meaning for someone becoming a salesperson? A salesperson should look to other professions for examples. What is a doctor’s purpose? They originally had the goal of helping, and they even have an oath they take and follow.
I pointed out in my last article that numerous professions throughout our society seem to have lost their original meanings. A judge originally had a meaning of bringing justice. So did a lawyer. A doctor was out to help people. Today people take on many of these professions either for money, status, or both. This is also true of many salespeople today.
The Meaning Restored
One of our prime missions at Pipeliner is to erase the negative stigma from salespeople and restore meaning to the profession.
The actual fact is that salespeople have tremendous importance in society. First, they strengthen the middle class, which is vital in today’s economy and which brings peace and prosperity. Second, they provide help to prospects of any productProductProduct refers to anything (an idea, item, service, process or information) that meets a need or a desire and is offered to a market, usually but not always at a price. or service. People today have a tremendous amount of information to sort through in finding information about any product they’re considering buying. A salesperson boils that information down for a prospect. As an example, in the SaaSSaaSSaaS is an acronym for Software as a Service. industry, there can be some 700 different products to choose from just in one category. How does one do that? With the help of an informed salesperson.
A salesperson and a prospect create a great foundation when agreeing on a situation that wins for both parties. This can be seen on a larger scale, where individuals, groups or governments who have agreed to trade or purchase goods from one another cannot also exist in conflict.
Only the Money?
Salespeople, as with many other professions, have drifted from their original meaning.
Like many other professions, salespeople have lost track of their original meaning. Why is this? In a large part, I blame the entertainment industry which has portrayed salespeople as downright greedy, only in it for the money.
Money should never be the only motivation for engaging in sales as a profession. Indeed money could be an outcome—and hopefully, it is, as it does to a great degree measure the salesperson’s success. But that should not be the only motivation for someone to become a salesperson. Just like that shouldn’t be the motivation for the doctor, lawyer, or any other profession.
Because sales has such a vital place in our society, we need to restore the actual meaning. The salesperson is there to help the prospect. In some respects, we could even say that a salesperson should be a servant of a prospect, in a good way.
A Salesperson Should Have These Traits
As I pointed out above, a salesperson’s reputation will rapidly spread in today’s networked society through word-of-mouth, reviews, and affiliate programs. However, they will only have an excellent reputation if a salesperson’s meaning is aligned with their actions.
A salesperson representing a company, service, or product should minimally possess these traits:
Integrity, in what they are saying and representing
Patience—the salesperson shouldn’t be pushy
Loyal—to the salesperson’s brand, products or services
ContentContentContent refers to a material or document released in various forms (such as text, image, audio, and video) and created to inform, engage or influence specific audiences. and satisfied in their position
Pride-worthy—someone a company would be proud of
Humility—who wants to deal with an arrogant salesperson?
Teachable—able to learn
Unlike previous times, a salesperson must have an additional quality: leadership skills. This is especially important when leading a project to implement their product or service within their prospect’s company.
We certainly don’t want the opposite of these traits in any salesperson we hire: dishonest, lack of integrity, impatient, disloyal and knocking their own brand, not content in their job, overly proud, stubborn, lazy, jealous, greedy or arrogant.
A Representative Salesperson
What should an ideal salesperson look like? It should be someone that people would enjoy hanging out with and talking to. It should be someone they can relate to, for when they can relate to someone, they want to be around them.
If salespeople are operating within their true meaning, they’re out to build up various portions of society, unlike various groups that are out to destroy or tear things down. They bring hope and excitement into people’s lives. Just as an example, you can see how super-excited someone becomes when they buy something that has value to them. A salesperson brought that about!
As to making money, a salesperson who fulfils this representation will have no problems. Money will flow into them.
Creating the Win-Win
A skilled salesperson is out to create a win-win, both for the prospect or customerCustomerCustomer is an individual or an organization that purchases a product or signs up for a service offered by a business. and themselves. I always describe a win-win, or a good deal, as something that hurts both sides just a little bit. They’re each giving in or compromising to some degree. If one side hurts too much, they will try and take revenge, so squeezing something out of the other person will greatly come back on the person doing it.
Quite honestly, today we see far too many lose-to-win or win-to-lose scenarios. These kinds of situations come about in a lack of competition, such as what we’re seeing in a platform economy*. These are basically monopolies that result in the ruin of smaller middle-class companies, and there is no longer any competition. Competition is healthy as it results in optimizationOptimizationOptimization is the process or act of altering a system, design, or procedure such that it 1) attains full functionality or efficiency, or 2) generates maximum output, benefit, or impact. of products and services, innovations and improvements, and even the company and marketingMarketingMarketing is the field, set of actions, or practice of making a product or service desirable to a target consumer segment, with the ultimate aim of effecting a purchase. culture.
When a company has no competition, you end up with what happens—and I’ve seen this firsthand—when you visit an Apple store. They treat you like they treated the last person because they don’t need to be nice to you. They know you don’t have a choice—if you want their brand, you have to buy from them. This can happen with a salesperson, too, when they know they have no competition.
In the final analysis, a salesperson creates win-to-win situations that result in success for themselves, their company, their community, and their society.
*A platform economy is a social or economic activity that operates on a platform. Typically online frameworks of technology or sales or technology, the most prevalent platform economies are Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft. These are known in the investment community as the Big Five.