After years of study and polishing technical skills to be a competent professional in a chosen field, it can come as a shock to many people that they need to sell their services and capabilities.
The topic of selling and growing a business often doesn’t feature in university lectures. In fact, selling is in many cases covered over and, if spoken about at all, is only mentioned as an unsavoury aspect employed by the desperate. Those days are over. The belief that a product or service or idea doesn’t need to be sold because ‘it sells itself’ is nothing short of naïve. In today’s busy market, a competent selling capability isn’t a nice-to-have it is an essential business and life skill.
You can no longer rely upon your technical competence only to guarantee your success or wait around for passive referrals.
The bad press that usually accompanies the profession of selling doesn’t help. The ‘selling’ stories we hear or read mostly about in the media are those about dubious operators exploiting anyone they can, especially the vulnerable and weak. The plethora of stories about the snake oil salesman doesn’t help the PR of selling. But although this type of behaviour is labelled as ‘selling’ by the media, is incorrect. The type of behaviour and intentions exhibited by these operators and other ‘dubious merchants’ is actually fraud and deception, and in some cases bullying and intimidation. That is not selling. This is one reason why many people don’t want to be associated with sales.
There is also the idea of the over-confident and extroverted salesperson and from that many people assume that that is the personality required to be able to sell. The truth is one can be very successful selling without those characteristics. In fact, the research into highly effective sales professionals shows they are often humble, highly self-aware, collaborative, see the big picture and details, effective at what they do, and have a ‘we’ not ‘me’ focus.
There are a lot of good untold stories about ethical selling practices out there. They often don’t make the mainstream media or general conversations because they are happening everyday in millions of ways. It’s a bit like IT, we never celebrate or talk about the fact that our IT system hasn’t crashed we only hear and complain about it when something goes wrong.
Your beliefs, not your abilities, could be holding you and your career hostage. To have a prosperous and fulfilling career you need to want to sell and need to know how to do it well.
For those of you who now need to consciously include the capability of selling in your business mindset and skills here are a few things to consider:
- Why do you need to sell? Who will benefit from you being able to sell competently?
- How will ethically and proactively promoting and selling your capabilities help you and your clients?
- What is your current view of selling? Do you hold onto a view that makes you feel ashamed of selling? How is that view affecting your ability to keep your business healthy and viable?
- Can you reframe your thinking about selling? See it as a way to make what you do visible to the people who need to know about you so they can benefit from your skills and talent?
- Do you feel worthy of being able to earn what you are worth?
- Limiting beliefs about selling are an issue for many people and something that can be overcome with patience, clarity, and persistence.
Selling is everybody’s business.