There is a certain perception of sales professionals among the general public that is, unfortunately, widely shared. It’s communicated a hundred different ways in a thousand different words, but what it boils down to is this: selling isn’t cool.
The natural response of many in this particular profession is to find out more. Why is selling uncool? What behaviors can I change to seem less sales-y? Some professionals will even resort to lying about their position. They adopt ambiguous titles and rely on wordy job descriptions to mask their actual role. I try to make it a point to question those professionals about their responsibilities and the reason they are in the position they are in. Why? Because sales CAN be cool…as long as you understand the concept behind what you do.
Every single working human being is helping someone out with something else. It could be money. It could be time. It could be security. It could be anything, really. The important point is that everyone that goes to work on a daily basis is helping someone else in some way, shape, or form. For sales professionals, it is especially crucial that they understand who they are helping and what they are helping them with. A firm comprehension of this information has the potential to change the way you feel about what you do for a living.
Let’s say, for example, that you go to work every day to sell shoes door-to-door. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this job. It is a perfectly respectable position, but the public perception of sales professionals has shamed us into thinking that it isn’t. So, when someone asks what you do for a living, your natural instinct is to say something like “I’m a marketing executive” or “I’m an account manager.”
While not altogether inaccurate, these responses almost always prompt the listener to ask for more information, and you’ll be forced to share the truth anyway. But what happens when you change your response to reflect who you help and how you help them? Then the conversation might look more like this:
Person 1: What do you do for a living?
Shoe Salesman: I provide extremely busy and/or disabled individuals with the opportunity to purchase footwear necessary for them to be successful in their daily lives without ever having to leave their home.
Do you think the individual asking the question is going walk away with a negative impression about what you do? Unlikely. The response above doesn’t seem shady, or greasy, or slick, or dishonest. It sounds cool. The job description didn’t change. The title didn’t change. Your own perception of what it is that you do changed, and that makes all the difference.