Discover your inner sales person

If I asked you, are you a sales person for your Association, how would you answer? You might well say yes, especially if it’s in your job description. But what if it’s not. In that case, my guess is that you might reply somewhat cautiously and say, ‘yes, but…..’ or ‘not really, I do…’  Unless you’re employed to sell, the very words ‘selling’ or ‘sales’ conjure up all sorts of negative connotations and uncomfortable feelings. Many of these still ring true and they’re often reinforced by our buying experiences as consumers.

Isn’t it important that everyone in an Association feels comfortable with selling?

Associations are deeply dependent on money when it comes to delivering for their communities and especially their day to day functioning. And on delivering value in return for that money in order to continue to do so, long term. So with this in mind, think about the difference it could make if you and each and every person within your Association believed they were, or behaved at least on some level as, a sales person. In fact, just imagine if your whole team felt that selling was their responsibility and that they were comfortable doing it. What difference would it make? What would you see and hear that would tell you this was happening?

This is what I’m going to be talking about at my Associations + workshop “Sales skills for non-sales people” at the Associations Congress 2016 on November 18.

Why is this an important topic? My view is that selling and what that means is much understood. Selling successfully today, means using an approach that is completely different to the stereotypical idea of selling. And one that is more human. And if we reframe our idea of selling, we can get more comfortable with doing it and therefore be more successful and contribute to more successful Associations.

Where do the negative feelings about selling come from? And what small things could be useful to change those feelings, just a little bit.

Where does our idea of selling come from? What do you think of when you think of selling? I asked someone this at an event I spoke at this year and their face crinkled up, almost in disgust, “It’s like begging.” I wondered what other images might come to mind for people when they think about selling. Here are ten I came up with:

Pushy, Spiel, Gift of the gab, Talkative, Extrovert, Persistent, Manipulative, False, Superficial, Numbers game

What do you think? You could probably add some more to the list.

When you look at the list, what strikes you about these things? They’re not positive are they? I’d go a bit further and say that they’re not the sort of qualities we would say make us human. In life, we would want to be anything but these things. So it’s hardly surprising that if we associate them with selling, a negative idea of selling is created.

So here’s the first small thing you could do to start to change how you feel about selling.

Change how you think about it.

And this starts by changing the language you use to describe it. And, although here is still selling taking place that would fit the above description, the forward thinkers in the area of sales have left these ideas behind. They’re now working with a different set of beliefs entirely. And because they’re more human, they make sense to more people. And they also work better so they lead to behaviours that generate better results.

So what if selling was about the following. How would these qualities sit with you?

Empathy, Rapport and trust, Being consistent, Permission, Clarity, Passion, Openness, Curiousity, Flexibility, Resilience.
What strikes you about the above words? Do you feel differently about them? Do they better reflect what you do, how you are in your role now? Perhaps you would use them to describe yourself in your current role or how you are in general. As it happens, these words also describe the behaviours, and personal characteristics of the very best sales people. So if you already possess these, it’s simply a question of using them in a different context. And the first step to doing so is to understand how they look when they show up in a selling context.

Join me at the Associations Congress November 18 for my Associations + Workshop “Sales skills for non-sales people” where I’ll be sharing how you can unlock the sales person in you.

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