Tuesday, June 11, 2013

You Are In Sales

We had to share an article by previous Swimupstream blogger - Willie Cromack - after he shared GREAT perspective around sales. If you want to hear more from Willie...check out some of his writing on http://ageofimpact.com/ 

Thanks Willie!

You Are In Sales

That statement in itself conjures up some bad feelings. You know the ones. Like the sleazy car guy trying to get you to buy the undercoating, the upgraded insurance package and all the bells and whistles. Or the electronics’ gal pushing all sorts or warrantees for when you crack your screen or drop your latest gadget. People hate sales. The industrial age taught us this. That age is over. Sales happen every day and you need to be in sales to thrive.

However, most of us don’t think we need the skill of selling, that our bubbled life has anything to do with sales, and we certainly don’t want any part of the notion of selling. Wrong. The accountant and engineers. All sales people. Marketing and research. Sales. Husband, wife, children, retail clerk, desk jockey, executive assistant, lawyer, and all other relationships - all sales.

We have always been in sales. But now it has changed. Your old version that is stuck in your head is a dead breed. The slimy salesperson trying to make the last dollar of the day is done. Now we all know they are to be avoided. A quick google search will tell us why.

Over the last decade the power has shifted. Information gets shared so easily today that the consumer is often more informed than the salesperson. It is easy to look online and often find the landed costs of products, meaning we even know how much mark-up there is on a certain product. Negotiations become a lot easier when nothing is hidden. Take the car example again; we know the sales girl makes a living on the upgrades and she knows you want the best deal possible. Now the game isn’t who’s hiding important information but more how we can best use the information for both parties to leave feeling happy. Perhaps you want the floor mats and an extra year of warranty. Say that costs you $200. I’d suggest that the customer service department is likely to take $200 off what they don’t make money on to add $200 in products they know impact their personal bottom line. In the end you get closer to the landed cost of the vehicle and they make a commission. Win-win, right? The relationship becomes less about trying to uncover what’s hidden from each party and more about how we can work together. This is what sales is becoming.

The conditions of selling have changed. The old environment of hidden information is no longer practical or viable. And this has impacted our behaviour. We haven’t changed as people but we’ve sure had to alter our behaviour. It is becoming trained in. It was easier to cheat someone before you could be instantly tweeted about or called out online. By the environment around sales becoming more transparent we have moved the ethical bar upwards. Nobody wants to be known as the shifty sales guy and this is the exact reason we have people still uncomfortable being recognized as a salesperson. The prism is still focused on the damage from years of an imbalance in information power. Being in sales today is a wholesale different experience. It is quickly moving towards supporting people navigate their life more powerfully utilizing the products or services you represent. Less ‘salesy’ and more problem solving including a transaction of currency or time.

These negotiations also happen all day long, no matter the situation. Some transactional and many merely a part of your every day life. We are always in a position of persuading or negotiating with someone to find the happy place. Your children, your wife, your husband, the teacher’s union, or the accounts receivable people are always looking to support their jobs or positions by having people make decisions based on their input. You want something to happen so you make your case. You persuade. You sell. This is called life.

Those of you in a relationship will know what I mean when I say that sales are a part of your life. In a relationship there is as much negotiating, as there is passive agreeance. Ladies night out. Can you watch the kids? Sit back and watch the selling. Better yet, make that a girl’s trip to Vegas. Last time I checked good old Youtube hasn’t really kept up with the bargain of “What goes to Vegas stays in Vegas.” The balance of power has shifted. It’s now ‘Even Steven’. I know what you want and we’ll discuss.
The equilibrium is amazing. Your choices are now empowered. Most importantly you can’t blame anyone else for getting shirked. At least you shouldn’t. If you let your significant other go to Vegas with 20 friends, you let them go. And it was because you trust them. Sales people are becoming chief negotiation strategist and like at home, the more open and honest the communication the more trust there is. With trust come decisions.

Sales positions are still responsible for a very large percentage of employment yet many people claim they are scared of selling or that it makes them feel uncomfortable. Get over it. Much like public speaking it is a learned skill and ethics are no longer an issue unless you make them a conversation. Selling is now more about belief and helping people see the future using the products or services you have at your disposal. Nobody saw himself or herself with a mobile phone. People believed in it and supported us see the future of connectivity. Find things you love and believe in. Use your belief to connect and enroll. More people using your service should mean we are progressing as a civilization and that is the essential building block of humanity.

The progression of humanity. Not sales. Bold statement? Maybe. But with real belief you are at the forefront of engaging people in caring and that is definitely not just selling a widget.

Now let’s discuss free. Free doesn’t exist. That ship sailed as well. Well, I’m sure if you walked to corner of the street with your new golf clubs or Les Paul bass guitar and decided to get all monk on us we could watch free in action. Yet still, there could be an argument for personal benefit. You feel as good as the receiver of said guitar because your choice was to relieve yourself of worldly possessions. It became a simple relationship in this case. You give. They take. In this case quickly I might add. Both parties are happy.

Newsletters, emails sign ups, podcasts, videos, and all forms of information are freely consumed but we are making a choice to watch, listen or give our contact information. A sale must take place. People are bombarded with information and in order to stay sane they decide if your content is worthy, or even if going to coffee with you is time well spent. Time has never been worth more in the history of civilization. It has always been valuable but earning your attention is now the primary economic race on the planet.

Studies have shown you spend over 40% of your day in non-transactional sales. Negotiations within your life on who’s showering first to who will pay the bill. Who will drive the kids to 5am hockey and which one of you will get the pleasure of taking your daughter to their first band lesson. Time based decisions. You make choices all the time based on the information at hand. Selling even happens in the bedroom. Some sales are easy. Some more difficult. It’s all a negotiation.

“But I’m not a natural salesperson.” News flash: nobody is.

Let’s assume there are people who are more predisposed but true negotiating skills are developed. Most scientists agree that once we break down the human genome our DNA will not show there to be a sales area in the string. Like speaking in front of a crowd, playing sports or even coding a website, some people are quicker on the uptake with the sales skill but it can all be learned. As with most things, it is a combination of who you are and what work you decide to put into it.

The sales frontier has evolved along with our new economy. You should evolve with it. Now you can help not push. You can persuade with confidence using information to support your reasoning. You can present all the facts and provide clarity in a world bombarded with too much noise, information overload and differing opinions. You can relax and be yourself.

People need your products and services. More than ever they need to be guided through the information and feel supported. Guide them. Provide answers and involve people in the process. Negotiate in good faith and chances are you will have made the sale – wherever that arena might have you.

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