Ask enough people that have been in sales for an extended period of time and you’ll typically notice a trend in how they got to be where they are today. Often they’ll report something to the effect of: “I never thought I’d be in sales, I thought it was just a dirty word that involved manipulating people, but now… I love it and can see there’s nothing dirty about it!”

And this is typically a true experience – the further we get into sales the more we realise it’s an incredible way to help people make a decision they wouldn’t be able to make without us. To call it a ‘dirty word’ quickly becomes the last thing we would consider rational and we confidently stride forward knowing our cause is nobler than we previously assumed.

But what if sales were, in fact, a dirty word? It must get its reputation from somewhere, right? Well, to just say it how it is:

Sales is a dirty word when its used to sell to people that don’t know any better. We can all recount a buying experience we’ve had that we’ve regretted after getting home and doing a little extra research. 

It’s a dirty word when it’s used to force a product or service onto someone that clearly doesn’t need it. We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve felt pushed into a buying situation we’d rather not be in.

And it’s a dirty word when the person doing the selling is there purely for their own gain above anything else. We can all remember a salesperson that made it more about themselves than us – we may not have been able to put our finger on it but we could sense the selfish presence.

The unfortunate thing is, although the majority of sales interactions are actually generally pleasant ones – we as human beings tend to remember these painful ones with more accuracy so that we can remind ourselves to stay away from them next time. For this reason, sales professionals tend to be treated with more caution than calm, more more alarm than acceptance. It’s not right or wrong, nor good or bad, it simply just is.

But it’s not likely to stay that way forever.

The modern buyer is more educated, more up-to-date and more in-tune with their available options in this world and so the role of the sales professional has rapidly changed to be one more of an educator and problem solver than somewhat of a ‘hot shot deal closer’. With this trend only continuing to grow further, this dirtiness of selling will gradually begin to slip away from general society and not just those within the sales profession themselves.

So what does sales mean to you? Does it still have the dirty connotation you may have assumed before you got into business? Or have you come to see sales in a more positive and empowering light?

Darcy J Smyth is the lead trainer of the Tonal Persuasion Method for Sales, the methodology designed to ensure you are closing sales without the dreaded ‘Hard Sell’ that can turn so many buyers away in the modern business landscape.

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