Can you imagine what our society would be like if any person could hang up a shingle as a doctor, lawyer or accountant without having to go through the process of getting an education or becoming licensed?
One of the things that I think contributes to the negative image of selling in the world today is that, contrary to the criteria that must be met to qualify to become other types of professionals, anyone can go out, get a sales job and call him or herself a salesperson.
Needless to say, this negatively impacts the image of selling, making it that much harder for true sales professionals to be taken seriously.
It also undermines the core values of selling. I believe a professional salesperson makes a sales call for only one reason and that reason is to be of service to the customer. If the product or service is right for the customer, then the salesperson has an obligation to sell it. If it is not right, then the salesperson has no business selling it.
So what is required to become a sales professional?
First, one must recognize that selling is indeed a profession. To my dismay, however, the majority of the people in selling today do not behave in a way that denotes them as professionals. Anyone who has ever been to a used-car lot or received a telemarketing call can attest to this unfortunate fact.
Consider these three truths about the profession of selling:
- Truth No. 1:
Seventy-five percent of the outcome of any selling opportunity is directly correlated to the manner in which trust and rapport are established by the salesperson in the initial stages of the relationship.
Think about how much easier it is to accomplish this outcome if a sales professional is on the sales call to be of service and truly believes that his or her product or service is worth the price that's being asked. A salesperson who believes that all they have to do is "fake it until they make it" is, in my view, doomed to failure.
Truth No. 2:
Every buyer will make five critical decisions in a precise psychological order before the salesperson can sell anything.
These decisions are: about the salesperson, about the company, about the product or service, about the price, and about the time to buy.
Truth No. 3:
Sixty percent of salespeople never ask for the business, thus wasting their time and the potential customer's by never closing the sale. Is it any wonder then that 80 percent of all sales are made by just 20 percent of the salespeople?
When considering these facts, it's not hard to see that the majority of salespeople are merely performing "sales jobs."
They are not professional salespeople - they're simply showing up to make the quota or read the script. Calling yourself a professional salesperson does not make you a professional salesperson any more than having a stethoscope makes you a doctor.
While I believe that just about anyone who is willing to make the commitment to acquire the education and skills necessary to become a professional salesperson can succeed, the profession of selling is not for everyone.
I have always suggested to salespeople that if they don't believe in the product or service they sell and they want to be a professional salesperson that they should change jobs.
Because prospects will buy from a salesperson whom they feel believes in the product or service he or she is selling.
This sincerity trumps all the features, benefits and buzzwords a salesperson could ever offer. It has to be genuine, though, not just some clever role playing or acting.
This is because many of us do not realize how truthfully we communicate through our body language.
As the global economy becomes ever more competitive and jobs and contracts continue to go overseas, salespeople must realize the full impact of their behavior and clean up their act if they plan to survive into the next decade. Now more than ever, companies are looking for highly qualified, educated and motivated sales professionals to help them stave off the competition, find new customers and keep current clients satisfied.
True sales professionals have a commitment to a calling.
They have chosen to acquire the education, training and expertise an amateur does not have and they choose to conduct themselves with integrity, maturity and dedication. Their goals are to have a positive impact on our economy and to always be of service to their prospects and customers.
As more and more salespeople recognize the value in becoming professionals, I look forward to the day when the sales profession will take its place in society as the truly invaluable and highly respectable institution that it is.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.