14-Apr-2011 18:11

I can’t sell! – Huh, I can?

Many business owners, company founders & creative guys have a negative attitude when it comes to sales and promotion.

I couldn't count all the people I’ve encountered in business who blandly state, “I hate selling & I’m terrible at it...”

So, what exactly is it that gets otherwise excellent business heads and brains thinking that they can’t ‘do’ sales, and worse, actually dislike the process?

There are several misconceptions, myths and false impressions associated with ‘Sales’.

Firstly, many consider ‘sales’ and salesmen to be sleazy and more than a little grubby.
Our perception of salesmen normally involves a mental image of a rather pushy double-glazing salesman or a belligerent car-showroom sales chappie who’d sell his soul just to reach his weekly targets..

Secondly, consider this…
Are many of us actually ‘trained’ to sell?
We often read voraciously about our industry, we try to keep up with latest innovations and we glibly follow trade news..
But selling? Hmmmm…

Thirdly, our bosses and team leaders expect pretty fast action and results.
Sales advice and product prompting may be basic, but we live in a fast-moving world and bosses impress upon sales people the importance of ‘closing that deal’ and successfully obtaining that important contract signature or ‘yes’ before the competition, and at the first meeting.

Sales should be seen rather as a process and should be focused upon getting to the next stage in the sales process.

Fourthly, we all fear and worry about ‘rejection’.
In most tense sales opportunities there are three possible results: yes, no & maybe.
We all dread that ‘no’ and so we may be just that little bit too nervous to push at the correct time and close that elusive sale...

Fifthly & possibly most important of all - depending on the value of the service you are ‘selling’, in order to get a client to actually buy from you and from your services, there normally needs to be a common element of trust and credibility.
This may take time to develop & thus by extension means that the sales cycle & process for higher value services and products can often be long and protracted.

All of which makes sales that much tougher.

Together with everything else the, by now poor & hapless salesman has to worry about, following up his leads, retaining contact with the prospect and keeping him warm is often pretty low down the list…

Can you add anything to our observations?

We would appreciate your comments…


> Return to Blogs List    

Contributed by Tom (THE HARRIER!) Brown on 16-Apr-2011 21:53
I love the challenge of selling and, have had many years in the front line - time for a book?

Any buyers lol?

Tom Brown I.Eng, FIET, MInstLM
Contributed by Gordon Wheaton on 16-Apr-2011 21:53
There is no such word as can't.
Also remember the line out of the Empire Strikes back when Yoda is teaching Luke to be a Jedi and Luke says he is going to try and Yodas response is "No, there is no try. Do or do not"


Contributed by Doug Jenner on 15-Apr-2011 17:48
Norman, many of us micro-business people sell all the time and don't even know we're doing it.
Contributed by Norman Feiner on 15-Apr-2011 16:14
Agreed Jeremy.

Oh that the discipline you mention would be replicated throughout other industries too (and dare I mention it... the 'Banking industry' in 2011!)

Contributed by Jeremy Webb on 15-Apr-2011 16:12
Hi Norman

I spent more than half a lifetime with barclays and many of my colleagues old and yourng, junior and senior came from the "process" or "customer service only" mould.

One effective answer to "I didn't join to be a salesperson" was to look at the "sale" from a different point of view.

Identifying a customer's need ( a real one rather than this week's target) enabling them to understand and recognise that need and then fulfilling it can rightly, in my view, be seen as superb customer service!

Kind regards

Jeremy Webb
Business and Business Finance Consultant
Webbery Associates Ltd and SatNav4Business
Helping you to help yourself
M: +44 7894 128876
Contributed by Brendon Mitchell on 15-Apr-2011 15:51
Hi Norman

Thanks for your blog.

I am extremely grateful to the company founders & creative guys (and technical guys and girls) that have negative attitudes when it comes to sales and promotion. If they were positive and understood it they would be taking care of it themselves, someone like me would be moving into another job description.

Let me explain. Now being a sales guy/girl you get called/ judged things - sleazy, a little grubby , snake oil salesman, door to door brush salesman, this that and the other through most of your career. Sometimes it is hard not to take it personally but at the end of the day, you cop it on the chin and get on with it.

Fundamentally sales is about people, it is about relationships and the way in which you communicate. These are skills just like having a great mind for numbers, a wonderful knack at dreaming up the next visual for an ad campaign or implementing an entire IP network for your new customer's important project. The problem is they are not seen as skills, but a given, that we all do these things anyway so where is it that sales people add value.

The nature of sales tends to go up and down just like the economy, just like the stock market, just like the English cricket team :-)

During these quieter times a good sales person shows strength in the processes which he/she has hopefully implemented the whole way through the sales cycle, not just during the good/busy times. Pipeline management, customer engagement, not just engagement but sensitivity towards your customers showing you really understand their business are key in my book.
A good awareness of industry movements and a passion for what you are selling and how that product or service s going to help people are also integral qualities of a salesperson worth their salt.

Most business people have these qualities but more often that not, cannot seem to be open enough or trust enough to actually add them to the armoury to go out and do battle. The smart ones do and when paired with a great business/creative or technical mind they are dangerous and the sky is the limit.

I would be out of my depth in a corporate takeover, struggle to create the next digital campaign for Cadburys or install an IBM zEnterprise Mainframe System. What I can say is that I am comfortable communicating with people, I look to build long term relationships/partnerships and always look for the next opportunity, always selling (even if it doesn't seem like it) passionately.

I hope this gives an insight from the other side Norman.

Contributed by Dr JOY Madden on 15-Apr-2011 15:50
Hi Norman,

You said above:

I couldn't count all the people I've encountered in business who blandly state, "I hate selling & I'm terrible at it..."

Yet, without realising it, everyone sells to everyone all the time!

I see 'selling' as "an exchange of emotion", i.e., you swap 'stuff' (money, goods, etc) and in return you either "feel good" or "feel bad" depending on if you get what you want.

For example, outside the traditional selling environment, when they want something:

* Friends sell to each other
* Kids sell to their parents (& vice versa)
* Wives sell to their husbands (& vice versa)
* Work colleagues sell to their bosses (& vice versa)

Those who get what they want are the best salespeople…and they are usually children!


Editor & Mentor
Contributed by Steve Hall on 15-Apr-2011 03:02
30 years in "selling" has taught me a few things.

1) Selling is telling ...

2) The guy either buys your service or you buy his excuse.

3) The weak salesman fears objections. The good salesmen welcomes them. The great salesmen seeks them out
4) Selling is only transmitted enthusiasm. Sweep the prospect along to the ideal closing situation - the prospect buys, you don't sell.

Norman, if you want a sales tip per day for your readers ...just ask!
Contributed by Lisa Attias on 14-Apr-2011 19:38
It can be a pleasure to be sold to well, if the customer has had the possibility of feeling he has made an informed choice.
Select the country you want to call:
Call us Freefone 0800 619 2626
Earn £££s Become an Agent
Recommend a Friend