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I'm a Salesperson?

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Author: Kevin Eikenberry

I have found that the words sales, selling and salesperson always have feelings attached to them. Some of you are reading, pondering the title of this article and thinking a stream of positive thoughts about selling, things like:

Nothing happens until a sale is made or someone sells something.

Sales is the engine of a capitalist economy.

Others are reading thinking a stream of extremely different thoughts:

I'm not in sales, I'm a .

If I wanted to be in sales, I'd be selling used cars, insurance, or spending my whole day on the telephone.

The last thing I want is someone selling me something.

So I write on, knowing that people have very different perspectives on this profession and activity.

For those of you in the first camp, hang with me for a second. For those of you with some amount of distain for sales, or even the slightest resistance to the idea that you might be a salesperson, let me ask you a couple of questions:

Does any part of your daily work/life involve communicating your ideas to others?

Do you ever find yourself trying to influence or persuade others?

Do you ever wish, hope or try to encourage change within an organization or with others?

I believe the chances are very high that you answered positively to at least one of those questions.

And if you did, you are in sales.

I know you may not be selling a product or service, but you are selling yourself, your ideas and solutions, and perhaps a vision of a better future for yourself and others.

Truly professional salespeople will see their jobs as doing those same things, even if they are also helping people buy a particular product or service.

Since you are still reading, hopefully you can see some positive connection between what you do and the skills and practices of an effective salesperson. What follows are five particular reasons why we are all in sales, and how you can learn from the best salespeople, regardless of your role.

Communicating effectively. Good salespeople are more than glib or good at telling a joke. They hone the craft of connecting and communicating with others through their words, actions, and thoughts.

Asking questions. One reason the best salespeople are such good communicators is that they are masters of asking questions. They know that the right question can be the way to learn more, to understand the other person's perspective more completely, and to set the stage for the next two skills.

Being persuasive. Salespeople hope to persuade us to buy something. If you don't sell products, you may be trying to persuade people to do a task, go to a certain restaurant, play a certain game or any of a hundred other things each day. The best salespeople persuade knowing that their product or service will serve, delight and/or improve the lives of those they are persuading. You are hopefully doing the same thing - expecting others will learn something from the task, enjoy the restaurant or the game. There is a difference between persuasion (where everyone benefits) and manipulation (where only the "seller" wins).

Being influential. Influence seems to follow persuasion, often like the next logical step. Once you have been persuasive and the other person found value from that situation, they likely will come back to you since trust has been built. Now you are more influential, potentially on a broader range of topics, than you were before.

Championing change. Persuasion and influence both are about change - changing minds, habits, behaviors, etc. Great salespeople understand that change is sometimes hard so they help others with that process. As you understand change and resistance more, you are better able to help others see the world differently, make new choices and do new things.

Looking at these five skills and behaviors it is easy to see how this helps anyone who is a manager or leader, works with others in any capacity, is a parent or is in any type of relationship at all. In other words all of us are salespeople - and all of us can become more successful if we learn and practice the skills of great salespeople.

Think about these five skills and find a great salesperson to watch and learn from. The skills that you will learn will benefit you today and for the rest of your life.

Potential Pointer: When we succeed as communicators we have the ability to influence, persuade and hopefully help others. This means, almost by definition, that all of us are salespeople and so all of us can learn from the best sales people. Observe, practice and succeed!

About the author: Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. You can learn more about him and a special offer on his newest book, Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at

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