Monday, May 13, 2013

Why We Hate Sales

From time to time, I have the opportunity to give talks to small groups about network marketing. Not for the purpose of enlisting them in anything, but rather to explain objectively what network marketing is, how it works and why someone might want to consider a business that uses such a selling model. I always begin by asking "Who enjoys sales and selling?" Very few, if any, hands go up. I then rephrase the question and ask, "Who would rather gouge their eyes out with a spoon than be involved in sales or selling?" Nearly every hand goes up.

My point is that everyone is engaged in sales and selling. Not everyone gets paid for it. We don't all have a product or service we are selling. But we all sell ourselves in interviews, our ideas to our employers, our vacation preferences to our families. Even the choice of a place to go out for dinner, or what movie to watch involves some selling. Why then does the profession of sales seem to enjoy such a dismal reputation? Why are salespeople ranked right up there with politicians and attorneys and IRS auditors?

I'm sure you can list your own reasons, but here are mine.

1. At one time or another, we have all been annoyed, harassed,
    disappointed or burned by a salesperson.
    People love to buy, but no one likes to be "sold" something. We've
    all ended up buying something from someone who was all about
    what he had to see and could care less what you needed. Had our
    meal interrupted calling you off a list with some incredible offer
    that you would never in a million years be interested in buying.
    Been let down by the quality, utility or value of a product we were
    talked into buying. Twice burned, once foolish. But how do you
    handle this in a different situation? Say you are seriously
    disappointed with an over-hyped movie. Or perhaps you have a
    terrible experience in a new restaurant you try out - bad food,
    worse service, premium prices. Is that the last movie you will
    ever go to see? Do you stop eating out? Probably not. I bet you did
    learn a few things about choosing films and eateries, and that you
    put it to use the next time you take in dinner and a show.

2. It is easy to buy into the stereotype.
    It is a favorite of stage and screen. The pushy, obnoxious,
    insensitive, back-slapping, fast talking, plaid jacket wearing
    salesman who pumps your hand in a crushing grip while picking
    your pocket with his other hand. Most of us would rather give an
    unrehearsed speech to a large audience than to be thought that
    kind of person. And lets face it, there is always a germ of truth to
    a stereotype. But, objectively, of all the sales professionals you
    have met how many were like that? I'm going to guess a pretty
    small percentage. Why? Because people like that don't last long
    in sales any more - if they ever did. They fail and move on, or find
    a new career.

3. We all fear rejection.
     It can be hard to separate the rejection of what you happen to be
     selling from a rejection of you, personally. This is especially true
     if your product or service is one that you are excited about, use
     yourself and really believe in (and if it isn't, why are you selling
     it?). No one likes to be turned down, to hear "No" or, worst yet,
     to be dismissed out of hand. On the other hand we all hear "No"
     from time to time and, so far as I know, it hasn't killed anyone.

Do we "hate" sales only because of fear? The fear of being a bother to others, of being thought poorly of, or of being rejected? I'm certainly not saying that a career in sales is for everyone. But sales can open up all sorts of opportunities - social, professional, financial. In business or in life, nothing much happens until somebody sells something. Good selling is not pushing. It is helping people to solve a problem or obtain a benefit by looking at things a little differently than they have before. Think about that the next time you are advocating for that golf vacation instead of a trip to your in-laws in Detroit.

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