Have you ever met someone who seemed like they were born to be in sales? They’re high in extroversion, they always know exactly what to say and they seem to thrive pumping up any crowd to get on board with the next wild idea.
Salesy types seem alien to introverted skeptics and annoying to thinkers with an “anti-corporate greed” worldview. Salesmen and marketing specialists are given a bad reputation– partly for a reason, but the stigma has also gone way too far. The salesman (or woman) is constantly portrayed in stories as a sly, profit-hungry mogul with little care for the common man; someone who manipulates people into giving up their money without realizing what’s going on.
I used to wrestle with these negative perspectives about sales, even well into my first years working in marketing. There is an interesting rift to explore between marketing and morality because well, it’s people we’re dealing with. People with autonomy, money pains and lives to tend to. People who, at their core, aren’t just buyers and consumers. But it’s also limiting to get stuck inside a quest for moral conclusions in marketing.
If you find yourself struggling with a gross attitude toward marketing and advertising, I think that’s fairly normal. But it shouldn’t leave you pessimistic about the act of sales or money in general, since, I mean… we need those things to live in modern civilization.
Here are some simple concepts that took me a long time to grasp on my own. Think about them, debate them and use them to help you consider a new perspective on sales.
A lot of people get sweaty and sensitive during a sales call. Many psychological wheels start turning inside of both parties. But sales calls aren’t all about getting a “yes, I’m ready to buy!” every time.
Although you want to sell successfully, it’s nearly impossible to win every sale. With digital marketing so accessible today and a billion corporate Zoom calls happening at any moment, people are over the phase of beating around the bush.
You could use sales as a basic strategy to help someone land on yes or no. If you start to think about a sales call as a chance to reach a clear understanding with someone, it releases the pressure to “win them over”. If they buy, great. You both move forward toward something mutually beneficial. If they realize they don’t want what you have, that’s okay. The two of you got to make a connection and now you can move on, integrity intact.
Sales involves listening, communication and negotiation, which are three critical skills for functional relationships. We tend to relate “negotiation” to matters of money but it’s also the way two or more people reach a fair resolution. Maybe we need more good negotiators in society, whether they’re involved in marketing or not. And maybe sales people are ahead of the rest of us with their people skills. We could learn a thing or two from their expertise.
Say you have a skill that could legitimately solve a problem or an idea that could transform someone’s life. How will you get the word out beyond your immediate social circle? Eventually, you’ll need to market it somehow.
“But the marketing industry is unethical,” you crinkle your nose… Really? You’re going to withhold sharing your helpful product or service because you get bent out of shape analyzing some distrust in how other people do marketing? If you can’t overcome this mental block, you’ll be sleeping on your service forever and you’ll leave people without the resources they may desperately want. Or worse, someone else will steal your idea and you’ll live resentfully at how they chose to market it.
Selling and self-promoting aren’t evil, especially when the purpose is to reach people who need what you have.
I can partly thank my grandpa for my previous negative beliefs about advertising. He was a seasoned hippie who made friends with anyone and everyone; he made equally as many donations to any good cause. When I was younger, he told me to be wary of anyone who (and I quote) “makes a living by profiting off of innocent people’s decisions.”
That’s a big statement to tell a kid. But I’ve come to wonder if he focused too much on the concept of innocence and too little on the concept of decisions. In general, people aren’t completely unaware when presented with a product or service. Nor are they fully innocent in the ways they choose to spend their money.
Maybe part of the reason why sales is so powerful (and to some, aggravating) is because it creates opportunities for decision making. It initiates people to learn more about what decisions they may want to make more carefully. Instead of seeing sales as total manipulation, what if you looked at it as an interaction of potential exchange?
Trading money for goods or services is a type of agreement that involves desire and trust. Sales can be a bridge that guides someone to something that makes their life better or easier. The more we start to consider sales in this way, the less the greedy sleaze-bag stereotype might become. Maybe we’ll even start to appreciate the excited personality who can captivate a skeptic toward the next wild idea.
Want to learn more about sales and marketing? Reach out to Hire a Writer to learn more about how you can use sales and copywriting for good.