“I hate selling!” It’s one of those phrases I hear often from seller-doers in our industry – the independent consultants, small business owners and senior executives at larger firms who have “sales” as a part of their job description, but don’t really want to be doing it.
But why is that? Why do so many non-salespeople hate selling? Their reason for the disdain of sales can likely be traced back to one (or more) of the following…
Blame your parents. It was ingrained in us as children when our parents told us, “Don’t talk to strangers”… and it stuck. That’s what sales often is… talking to strangers. And many of us have a very difficult time initiating a conversation with someone we don’t know. We’re afraid of what they might say… that they might reject us… that they might ask a question that we can’t answer… so the safe thing is to NOT talk. And no where is this more common than in networking situations… and that’s too bad because a networking event can be one of the best places to start a buying-selling relationship.
Our Preconceptions. If I was to say, “Picture a salesman,” what comes to mind? A sharp, well trained professional… or the stereotypical, fast-talking, high-pressure used car “sales guy?” For many of us, it’s option #2… something we don’t want to be associated with.
Bad experiences as a buyer. We’ve all been there – whether at a department store or in our job at the office – when we’ve been forced to engage with a ‘bad’ sales rep. They’re pushy… or unprofessional… or not very knowledgeable… or just don’t “get it.” Their demeanor and behavior cast an ugly shadow over the entire selling profession.
We don’t have time for it. I know, that seems a little backward, but we get angry – mostly at ourselves – because we get so caught up in our client projects that selling becomes the “red-headed stepchild” that we just can’t seem to get to.
Operations vs. Sales. Sales and Operations (and you’re in Operations!) have always had a contentious relationship inside of professional services firms. Ever heard a Project Manager say, “We do all the work… why should the Sales Rep get the commission?” It’s a long-standing business issue that will never go away.
You were pushed into it. Yup… one day, you’ve got a nice, comfortable job as a project manager or marketing director for your firm… and the next thing you know, your boss has tapped you on the shoulder and said that because of your “really good people skills,” half your job is now to go sell for your firm. But with little direction, minimal training and ineffective management… you’re just out there wingin’ it!
But most likely… While all of the reasons above are real and legitimate, the reason you likely “hate sales” is that you have no real idea how to be good at it. You don’t understand the buying-selling process… or how to talk with sales prospects in a way that really connects with them… or how to generate and nurture sales leads… or how to deliver a truly compelling capabilities presentation… or all the different tools and techniques you’ll need to be successful. So, you end up out in the marketplace – with all of your ‘technical’ knowledge – but no idea how to apply it.
The good news is that there is a virtually unlimited supply of selling-related educational content – much of it free – in the form of websites, blogs, enewsletters, webinars, LinkedIn groups, associations, and so on. Here are some that we like:
- The Competitive Advantage Blog (this one is ours!)
- Selling Power Magazine (sign up for their free enewsletter)
- National Association of Sales Professionals (find a local chapter)
- Jeff Gitomer, Sales Trainer (great content and best-selling books)
- Jill Konrath’s blog (good, tactical advice)
- The Sales Blog (from Anthony Iannarino)
- Sales Best Practices (a very large LinkedIn group)
- B2B Sales, Marketing, Social Media & Lead Generation (another LinkedIn group)
- The Salesman Podcast (more than 600 episodes)
And so many more… just Google “free sales resources” and you’ll be amazed at what’s available.
But finding resources isn’t the problem. The real challenge will be for you to find just one small selling skill, task or habit to focus on every couple of weeks… and then to make the commitment to work on it, to practice it, to test it out and to learn from the results. And then ideally, to have someone hold you accountable to it. If you can do that, you’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll make in just a few short months.
Good luck and good selling.
We’ve got another resource that can help. Starting in late July, we’re launching the Seller-Doer Workshop, an online training event developed specifically for MR professionals who have been tasked with selling, but don’t want to, don’t like to and don’t really know how to. For complete details, go to www.SellerDoerWorkshop.com. [Early Bird registration ends June 26th.]