Is selling a skill of a selected number of people?

While I was thinking about sales as a specialism, I wondered if there’s not a lot more people in other professions who have sales as (one of) the most dominant part of their jobs. People like lawyers, police officers, inventors or artists.

In order to get a better insight in this, I posted this as a discussion on Linkedin.

Sales from birth onwards

Before I knew it the discussion was all about children who have the ability of getting their parents to do anything for them. I can’t agree that this is actual sales, this is more manipulating the ones that love you. Prospects don’t tend to have these type of feelings for the ones that consult them… 😉

I was hoping for different insights too.

Is everybody in sales?

It started of good though, one of the commenters said ‘ We all sell. Anyone who says otherwise would lie about other things too.’ Allrighty then! The tone is set!

But on the other hand, ‘ If sales was easy, then there would be a line of people outside your door trying to get in. I think sales is a skill that you are always learning and not everyone can do it.’. But there is a difference between defending your ideas and ‘going in cold calling a prospective client, doing dials to get an appointment, answering objections..the people who are successful doing that, well those skills are learned over time, mostly by going out and failing first, then learning from it, so you are ready for the next call.’

Some say ‘selling is a craft’, and also mainly ‘a talent based profession’. ‘”Sales” is a continuum, ranging from flogging trinkets in a flea market to the heavy hitters, who sell and earn multi-millions . There are many of the former,and very few of the latter. And, incidentally, there are engineers who can sell, and those who cannot.’

Coming back at the child example, one added to that: ‘”They simply nag you into submission”. I get that feeling from half the salespeople that come into my office, They make an offer, I say it doesn’t fit what I want and they spend the rest of my life trying to convince me it does, or until I have to politely end the meeting anyway.’ As a sales person, nor as a prospect that’s not what you want…

Convincing or selling?

Or is it about the difference between convincing and selling? ‘Convincing is trying to make somebody else doing what you want. Convincing to buy your product is not selling. If you win it’s just a lucky punch – not more, not accountable, not forecastable, sometimes not even profitable… 

Sales is an ever changing set of skills you need to acquire, renew and acquire again. Sales requires you to learn a lot of things and let go a lot of other things. Agree with Peter – it’s a talent based profession. It is a talent base similar to an artist. I hired directly or indirectly hundreds of sales people in my live. Talent and skills are equal requirements to succeed – you can’t win with only one of them. Talent is in your genes, skill is something you need to acquire.’

To some, it may seem that sales skills are something that are occasion based too: ‘I believe everyone has some ability to sell if it’s something they appreciate, live or know really well. Whether its an idea, product, themselves, a day out of the house everyone can sell. Most need someone else to recognize it in them before they understand what they have been doing all along.’

Is sales a necessity from a certain educational level onwards?

These insights were very helpful, and answered some questions (yes, everybody is in sales), but made me also think: Sales is about something more than just influencing: Creating a need to buy. And as some of the commenters already mentioned, that is something quite different. Perhaps from this point of view Sales is a skill that becomes a necessity only from a certain professional level on.

How sales-minded need lawyers, designers, police officers, inventors, school teachers, trainers, dentists, etc. to be? Can they be just as successful if they stick with the professional operations they learned ‘in school’, or do they become exponentially more successful when they apply sales techniques (thus being a factual Sales person)?!

About the author

Over the past few years Walter van der Scheer has been evangelizing marketing automation to advertising agencies, e-commerce companies and co-workers alike and has been building a team of determined sales professionals. He has made progress, but the road ahead is still very long. Walter shares his personal experiences and challenges along the road of changing the way that marketing is done, while trying to stick to the strategically chosen path. +

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Quick IQ test to separate humans from computers... *