Is selling shameful?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Getting Personal About Business, the blog of Zahn Consulting, LLC.
In the course of my professional career, I have worked with easily over a thousand people who derive their income from facilitating transactions that include the transfer of products and/or services in exchange for payment — in short, people who sell for a living. However, few feel comfortable identifying themselves as a salesperson. In my coaching and training sessions, I spend a fair amount of time confronting that dilemma with them upfront.
For most of us, when we hear the term "salesperson," we default to visions of a sleazy fast talker who is self-centered, egotistical and willing to lie to accomplish their goals — often at the expense of the customer’s needs.
I’ll ask my clients if they can recall what they answered in first grade when they were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. Even for people who ultimately choose to pursue a career in sales, they and those closest to them do not "value" it as a career worth pursuing.
Titles such as regional manager/territory manager, marketing representative and business development specialist often seem like euphemisms for sales jobs.
Also, unlike other fields, salespeople do not have impressive diplomas on their walls, leather-lined books on their credenzas or photos with their graduating class from a prestigious program. Just having a "gift of gab" is seen as key to being successful.
Overcome the Shame
The best way to overcome this hesitancy to identify as a salesperson is to focus on the customer’s situation more than one’s own. It may be trite to say, but it’s important to change one’s approach from viewing the customer as an obstacle to be overcome in the pursuit of acquiring a sale to one of collaborating with the customer to achieve an outcome or objective (in other words, being "win-win").
There is nothing as rewarding and noble as accomplishing a goal that allows others to meet their business needs. So, in that sense, while it may seem contrary to conventional wisdom, sales is perhaps the most cherished and valued occupation one can choose to practice.
How common is it for salespeople to feel some shame about their occupation? What are the keys to becoming a great salesperson?