Saturday, January 5, 2013

I Hate Sales People but Then Again...

Early in my career, I met a car salesman. He'd become a classroom teacher and every conversation with him ended up being an exercise in oneupmanship. Even though he was a teacher now, he would always be a car salesman (I met him later in life, and his car salesman behaviors still endured even though he now did something aside from teaching).

It wasn't long before every conversation with him irritated me and whenever I ran into sales people--vendors--that had nothing to do but try to sell me, that irritation increased. In fact, after several of these encounters, I came to see vendors as being on "the Dark side of the Force." I realize now that I had run into the lowest representatives of salespeople...those who cared nothing for me, for the product they were pushing, only for the money they hoped to get out of my wallet, the idea they wanted me to swallow whole-hog (fundamentalists, there's a lesson here for you!).

Fortunately, over the years, I've met people who work in sales but don't act like the stereotype of a car salesperson. Their primary goal isn't sales, but helping me get what I need/want, helping me find what best meets the need/want.

With that kind of perspective, that kind of over-arching goal, I'm more inclined to listen to people...and more likely to go into that line of work myself. Why? Simply because who can argue with the reframed goal of helping people get what they need or want? Isn't that what bloggers do, sharing what they're learning as they learn it for the simple expectation that it will be helpful to others?

Yes, one in nine Americans works in sales. But so do the other eight.
Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest, or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now. (Source: Dan Pink, To Sell is Human)

Should Teachers be ashamed when they promote their work? This is a question Bill F. asks, in response to a criticism someone made of his sharing his book. My response is "The only time when you should be ashamed of promoting your work is when you trying to hide it, to fool someone into getting something they didn't want or need."

Each one of us has something to share, to sell, even if it's our own integrity and honesty in the face of skepticism and dis-trust. If we re-define selling as sharing what you need/want, a financial exchange that affirms our common need to make a living while getting what we want/need from others, then great!

Gunn Nissan, where I bought my Nissan Frontier way back in 2005 (or was it 2004), took this approach. "One simple price," they shared with me, and then tried to answer all the questions I had, helping me better understand my options. What a great approach back then, and what a great approach now.

Bill's book blog entry makes the following point:
As a guy who is trying to build a bit of a career beyond the classroom -- something that I can turn to during the two months a year that I'm not working with students -- Anonymous's take has challenged me to think about who I am as a professional AND who where we are as a profession.
As a professional, what I learn and share is available for free. What you pay for is the packaging (e.g. book, article), the right to mass produce in a way that if you're making money, you'll share those profits with me, and my time and effort (e.g. keynote, face to face presentation that takes me away from home). I don't think there's anything wrong with sharing your product on your web site, or blog, because people have a choice to read or not, to buy or not.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

1 comment:

Bill Ferriter said...

Miguel wrote:

Fortunately, over the years, I've met people who work in sales but don't act like the stereotype of a car salesperson.

Their primary goal isn't sales, but helping me get what I need/want, helping me find what best meets the need/want.

- - - - - -

I love this, Miguel.

It's probably the single most articulate statement of who I want to be as a professional beyond the classroom.

I won't lie -- I'm a salesman. I want to make a living, and working beyond the classroom is how I've chosen to do that.

But I want to make a living helping other people. I want to match their needs with ideas -- whether or not those ideas are mine -- that may move them forward.

I guess I see myself as one of those guides that take people on river rafting trips through the Grand Canyon.

You pay those folks for their expertise. They know best how to get safely from point A to point B -- and that knowledge is something that you are more than happy to pay for because you REALLY want to get from point A to B safely.

But they'd go rafting with you for free any day. It's what they do. It's who they are. It's their passion too.

Thanks for the metaphor. You've moved my thinking forward.


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