Advertising is a mammoth selling machine to influence us to buy products and services. Huge amounts of money are spent annually to convince us that we need to be improved: to smell better, to look younger, to be considered sexy based on the cars we drive and the clothes we wear.
Selling by companies using mass media – and now the web – is virtually a science driven by psychology and often manipulation of our self images and identities. Without realizing it, we can be influenced by advertising which sells us on particular world views.
What is your relationship to advertising? Do you tune it out or edit it out? What kind of credibility does that kind of selling provide for you in making day-to-day buying decisions? Is this kind of selling honorable and useful? How conscious can we keep our buying decisions based on the selling that takes place in national advertising campaigns?
There has been not inconsiderable resistance in our culture to identifying oneself as a salesperson. Many consider selling to be “beneath” them or somehow inferior to holding a “professional” job. Over 25 years ago, psychologists Dudley and Goodson created a test to measure the degree of “Sales Call Reluctance” which measured 12 different areas that are predictive of success as a salesperson.
Among the 12 categories is the general category of the willingness to be identified as a sales professional. One’s score reveals the degree of embracing or rejection of a role as salesperson. Obviously, if one rejects the role, she or he is going to have a hard time selling successfully.
Where do you fall in terms of willingness to identify yourself as a salesperson – either directly or in terms of functionalities within your job? Where do you see salespeople within a socio-economic hierarchy? How valuable or not valuable are salespeople in your opinion to the ultimate betterment of society?
Selling is a process of communicating sufficient value so that a buyer says “yes” and a sale is consummated. Many buyers perceive higher value if they feel they are being treated as special. Oftentimes, we feel special when offered a bargain, a sale or a premium — among many ways.
“Special offers” can be offered in refined and attractive ways or, at the opposite end of the continuum, “deals” can be crude and even consulting — sometimes even counterproductive for the salesperson. Kin Hubbard defines bargain as: “A bargain is anything a customer thinks a store is losing money on.”
Do you currently offer discounts and bargain pricing to your customers? What are your reasons either way? Are customers more or less demanding for deals and discounts in our current economic environment? Are you a “deal shopper”? What have been the best ways for you to offer deals to your customers?
Writer Jay Abraham says, “Whatever area you work in, you do have clients and you do need to sell.” This notion of “everyone sells something” can be translated into “Everyone influences others” because selling is a form of influencing and persuading.
What we have often objected to about selling is that it can include unfair or undue forms of influence or persuasion. The stereotype of the “used car salesman” involves manipulation and psychological pressure – and, of course, we want to avoid that kind of behavior.
However, persuasion and influence can be performed ethically. Genie Laborde’s book, Influencing With Integrity, is a classic in sales communication and I recommend it highly:
How well are you at “influencing with integrity”? Can you make the leap to seeing selling as influencing? What are the implications of this shift in perspective for you as both a seller and a buyer?
There’s an old saying that, “Nothing happens until somebody sells something” – no doubt penned by a sales manager given to exaggeration. Selling has sometimes been a very controversial and difficult topic for clients over the years . . . primarily because few people want to be perceived as overly pushy or aggressive. Yet, an effective sales strategy and execution is essential for any business to grow.
The consultative sales approach is a way to simultaneously be of service to a prospect as well as promote a sale for your company or employer. The salesperson assumes a role as an ethical consultant who advises the client with a useful analysis of the client’s situation . . . and, based on the resulting recommendations, there is or is not a further recommendation to buy from the salesperson / consultant.
How do you feel about selling? Has it been difficult or easy for you? Are there situations where it is either more difficult or easy than others? How necessary is it for you to be involved in an active selling process? What are some breakthroughs that you would enjoy as a salesperson?