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Sales is Learned (and will change you)

mtn

I’m an adopted only child. I have no idea what I come from, siblings for reference, what my birth parents are like, and how much of me is a product of free-will vs genetics vs wanting something better than I grew up with.

But I can tell you this: Sales was not my destiny.

Most of the time you read people who have excelled in their field and they say, “I held golf clubs since I was old enough to stand” or “I started singing the moment I had a voice.”

I reflect to my early days to see if there were any “signs”. It is very clear:  I was not born for this.

So how did I get here…As someone who so confidently says that Sales courses through my veins and is passionately building content for a sales consulting business? I’ve chosen this path repeatedly since I was 17 years old and have never once reconsidered I was doing what I was meant to.

I saw what sales was, what it could do, what I could get…I surrendered and let it change me.

Consider the things that hold us back in life: Fear, rejection, confrontation, our pasts, uncertainty, what we think we aren’t, insecurity, laziness, indecisiveness. When I tear each one apart, I find my answer to how I’ve worked through each one has been through succeeding in sales.

This is exactly why so many people find sales scary. When I coach people through their blocks and challenges with approaching selling situations, it’s rooted in the very things that have held them back in life.

Sales hesitancy shines a bright spotlight into their opportunities for growth and what has bound them.

I found that when I began to face each of these limiting demons as they applied to sales, I had no choice but to face them within myself.

Standing to present to a high-profile client and room of executives translated to how I could deliver difficult news under pressure to people I cared about.

 

Approaching a stranger to present a product offering without guarantee of outcome likened itself to walking up to guys in bars without insecurity or showing up confidently alone to an event or party.

 

Bouncing back after weeks (sometimes months) of hard work in pursuing a client to find out they’d gone elsewhere became my strength when enduring a broken heart and other personal losses.

When we use these lessons within the confined and examined space of sales, we’re left with no choice but to consider and bleed them to other areas of our lives.

These three principles are why I sing the praises of sales and believe everyone should embrace it in their lives:

1. Sales lessons are everywhere. Being good at sales affects everything.
Leading and raising a family is sales… It’s instilling values into your children, imparting the wisdom you have gained, and showing them how to best learn from the world.

Running a company is selling… It’s communicating a vision everyone rallies around and recruiting the best efforts from people.

Being in a successful relationship is selling… It’s negotiating through your combined wants and needs, knowing when to take the lead and when to listen or follow.

Doing the right thing is selling… It’s standing up when everyone is choosing to sit down.

Everyone is always selling, so there is no better path to self-development. You will find it abundantly around you, ready to challenge and push you. The practice arena and lessons are there for the taking.

Find the sales victories of each day. Say hello to a stranger, schedule a lunch meeting, pick one thing that scares you (even if it’s small) and do it. The opportunity to practice by conquering little fears, spreading your ideas, and bringing out great things in others exists in most human interactions.

Numerous growth lessons surround you and each one you engage will strengthen you.

2. Each mountain you conquer in sales is one you conquer in yourself.
Someone said no; They picked another company; I made a cold call and got shut down. Every time, yes… It stung a bit. Okay, maybe a lot. But I tucked my head, licked my wounds and eventually got over it. Revived with fuel to do better the next time, the muscle that allowed me to stand back up after the knock, got progressively stronger.

Like an addicting game that makes you want to try again, the reward was not just a sale, it was becoming a better person.

For every triumph from a hard-fought sale or breakthrough in human communication, you learn these are never isolated to just business situations. Applying these globally to your life means you improve and remove hurdles in everyday situations.

Stand, wipe off the dust, mend your torn jeans, and try again. Try new ways. Ask better questions. Try again.

3. Sales is your road for continual improvement.
There is always a carrot, some new challenge to go for, a farther distance to run. There’s a new way of looking at and trying things. No one can naively be the ultimate expert; the best sales requires constant self-examination, awareness and collaboration with others.

How do you get a no faster? How do you get more yeses? How can you more clearly state your passionate vision? Learning how to ask and consider these answers retrains you to better grow personally and problem-solve in all aspects.

Latching onto continual improvement is humility that allows for greater achievement and satisfaction. I know my relationships are better because I never stop putting in the effort. I’m constantly refining and learning something new so I can be a greater leader. I’ve embraced never-ending self work because I want to always be a better person.

You can find that extra mile within you. Uncovering that growth is exhilarating.

Sales has issued me the license to navigate the driver’s seat in life. I can go fast, I can accelerate, make a pit stop, go to new places and choose winding, unconventional roads.

 

Sales has given me the courage to say what I really think and taught me to express what I really feel because true authenticity always wins.

Ultimately:

You need these sales skills.
When you master the art of asking for what you want, approaching difficult situations, and having influence in other areas of your life you realize you can’t afford NOT to invest in your ability here. This is not a job, it’s a way of living.

Living with this awareness allows you to draw from everyday scenarios as your low-risk training ground.

The world needs your sales skills.
It needs you to spread your ideas, to create your business, to shout exuberantly and freely to the one you love. If you hold back or shy away, if you submit to your fear of failure, the rest of us may never know what brilliance remains undiscovered. Your gifts just need to be packaged and delivered in a way that others can recognize how great they are… This is the real reason for  sales.

That inner voice that tells you you’re not good at sales or that it’s not for you… Everyone hears it. But that voice is only a disguise, because the best things we learn and grow from in life are often not easy or obvious. A collection of challenges await you…an opportunity to stretch, expand and push you.

I learned it. You can learn it, too.

needle

16 Comments

  1. Thanks, Jean. You’ve hit it on the money — this skill translates to everything important in life. Can’t wait for you to teach us how.

  2. I was anti-sales for a long time. But now I’ve embraced it and truly believe, as you said, “The world needs your sales skills.”

    Additionally, I (and I’m sure many others) have large misconceptions about what sales is. It’s not about tricking others or trying to make as much money as possible. It’s about making a trade that’s beneficial for both sides. That’s really helped me realize that selling isn’t a bad thing.

    1. Yes Jeffrey! It’s knowing that what you have to give benefits the other person as much as you, and that’s when you know the best transaction is happening. Thanks. 🙂

  3. I enjoy how you explained this Jean. I too was anti-sales but have now embraced it as something that is all around us. Even when I want to get my boys to eat the homemade thrown together chili I use sales by calling it “cowboy food”. It’s everywhere because that is how we get through life more efficiently or we don’t. Keep writing, it suits you.

  4. Maybe this is why I’m so scared of sales. It’s not so much the idea of sales, but the idea of confronting my fears that makes me run in the opposite direction.

    If coffee is for closers, I’ll never drink coffee. It makes me nervous.

    1. Nate, thank you for the prompt!
      I don’t think of selling as closing. As in confronting your fears, it’s about how you frame your mind… Knowing what’s on the other side and that it’s worth it (and that YOU are worth it). Your thoughts, your ideas, your leadership brings value to the world. It’s your gift and your contribution… We all need/want to hear it. Sales is just about putting it into a package that we want to pay attention to, that we can understand.

      And I know you have an AMAZING message the world NEEDS to hear.

  5. LOVE!! This is such a great way to explain sales in a much larger context than people usually think of it as. And since sales scares the crap outta me, it does show where I can do some more personal work. (I’m also adopted, btw…). Thanks for the great post!

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