I am seated in a plush red lounge chair in a cramped but cozy hip Austin coffee and wine bar called OPA!. It is really an old house, nicely converted into a simple but comfortable meet-up place or office away from home just a mile south of downtown Austin. The room has creaking old dark hardwood floors, eclectic decorated walls and fancy furnishings. My laptop is closed at the moment but conveniently in front of me on a small round table next to my chair. I also have my iPad mini which seems to be my constant companion everywhere I go. It’s late in the evening but the atmosphere around me is somewhat loud and buzzing. There are thirty, maybe forty people inside and another twenty or more outside on a cool June evening.
[sws_pullquote_left]”To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources – not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.” — Daniel H. Pink [/sws_pullquote_left] I take a few moments while waiting to order some hot tea to gaze around the room and do a little people watching. I’ve come to Opa’s, which I do from time to time, to read and write. Directly to the right of where I’m seated is a table of eight people, mostly college age, laughing and enjoying each other’s conversation. That is probably the norm for Austin, being a college town. They appear to be enjoying coffee and sharing two or three assorted deli trays. I notice a young couple enjoying a Greek cheese tray and a couple glasses of wine. There is a middle aged man in jeans and a white shirt sitting alone directly in front of me. He is sipping some steaming and good smelling coffee while pecking away on his MacBook Air. Behind me I see two ladies apparently good at multi-tasking who are talking, laughing, and texting on their mobile phones. At a long glance across the room I can see several laptop screens and hear lots of lively chatter and laughter.
Now that I have my tea I open my laptop, and click on my email and calendar icons. As they open I begin in my mind to reconstruct the activities I’ve had the last few weeks. I recall the meetings I’ve attended, the trips I made, the books I’ve read, the telephone calls I made, the cards I sent in the mail, the face-to-face conversations with family, friends, and other people. I roughly determine that I’ve sent out about 320 emails, wrote five blog posts, constructed fifty-six tweets, sent four cards, and participated in about thirty-five text messages.
I Am A Salesman
When I assessed all my activities over the last few weeks, I gained a real sense of who I am
–– I am a salesman.
Most of what I do day to day doesn’t make a cash register ring. I don’t sell insurance, cars, or real estate. I don’t work behind a counter. I spend a significant portion of my days tying to coax others to part with resources. Yesterday I spent a few hours with a prospective customer mind-mapping a business marketing strategy to help him brand his brewery and restaurant. I had a late lunch with a friend and enjoyed helping him discover a new business idea and listening to him share his passion. I spoke over the phone with a customer who was rejoicing over the lead he received due to the marketing strategy we recently employed. A few days earlier, I met with a customer/friend who came in from out of town and over a nice steak dinner we discussed ideas, vision, dreams, setbacks, goals, and more ideas, all while having what he said was the the best steak he ever had! I also negotiated a real estate contract, helped a family member negotiate a cancelled flight, discussed a project with my team, celebrated my mother’s 70th birthday, and had a wonderful evening dining with my beautiful wife to celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary! Indeed, the vast majority of time I’m seeking resources other than money. Can I get a specific person’s attention? Can I get strangers to read an article, or a friend to help solve a problem, or patience from my guitar teacher? Can I influence the outcome I want?
Persuade . . .Influence . . . Convince
You’re probably not much different. I suspect if you examine your own calendar, email, texts, and phone calls you’ll discover something similar. Some of you, no doubt, are selling in the literal sense
–convincing prospective or existing customers to buy real estate, cars, food, or insurance. But all of you are likely spending more time that you realize selling in a broader sense – persuading prospective customers, pitching ideas to colleagues, moving others to your idea. Whether we like it or not, we’re all in sales now.
The workplace has been transformed, instead of doing only one thing, most of us are finding that our skills on the job must now stretch across boundaries. The ability to move others to exchange what they have for what we have is crucial to our survival and our happiness. The capacity to sell is part of who we are.
Each day more than fifteen million people earn their keep by trying to convince someone else to make a purchase. I discovered that I spend a sizable portion of my workdays selling in a broader sense
–persuading, influencing, and convincing others. Today much of what we do involves moving others. That is, we’re moving people to part with resources – whether it’s something tangible like cash or intangible like effort or attention, persuading people to give up something they value for something you have.
Daniel H. Pink said it best, “To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources
– not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.”¹
Following are some thoughts to consider:
- Do your systems, sales processes, and marketing strategies assist and enhance your selling efforts?
- Is your marketing strategy helping solve a problem for your customer or are you just selling?
- Do you move others to your idea effectively?
- How well are you nurturing your customers?
- The salesperson is not irrelevant
–because the salesperson is us!
Resources and References
¹ Daniel H. Pink, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others – Riverhead, 2012