The 2nd Thing I’ve Learned From Sales

January 10, 2013

I committed to learning more about sales recently and sharing the lessons that might be helpful to other people. The first lesson I learned was about technical skills.

The second lesson is of a very different sort. It’s more philosophical and not at all technical. It comes from the fact that sales is about conversations, and conversations invoke the heart.

I noticed someone who is uncomfortable with sales lacks confidence talking about the product or service, so that person comes across as unsure, or even as apologizing for bothering the listener by talking about it.

That message turns into a shaming message. It makes it seem like there’s something wrong with the product or service, which tells the people who need that product or service that it’s wrong to need it.

Let me say that again. When a person is uncomfortable talking about their product or service, it makes it seem like there’s something wrong with the product or service. That leads people to believe they shouldn’t like it, so there must be something wrong with them if they want it or need it.

Holy $#!+! This is big!

Have you ever been in a situation like this? A person sheepishly says something like, “I’m sorry to bother you, and you’re probably not interested, but I [fill in the blank: sell these products, offer this service], so you can talk to me if you’re interested.”

Your response? If you’ve ever struggled with sales, you might feel sympathy for the person, but you probably feel really uncomfortable, too. And you probably wonder what’s wrong with the products or the service or the prices to make the person apologize.

And on a more subtle level, if it’s a kind of product or service you’re interested in, I believe you wonder if there’s something wrong with you for being interested in that sort of thing.

I noticed this based on other people’s sales conversations, but I pretty quickly recognized myself in it. The core of my coaching is promoting personal growth and development through the skills and techniques of coaching and my knowledge of psychology, especially positive psychology and developmental psychology. I realized that I assume people will be skeptical of personal development as “fluff and nonsense” and uneasy about psychology because of mental health stigmas.

That’s when I knew I’d let myself down. This isn’t who I am. I don’t defer to people who mock personal development. I don’t side with the people who think there’s something weak or shameful in talking about thoughts and feelings.

I am a champion of people understanding their thoughts and feelings and getting comfortable with who they are. I did that for years as a therapist, and then for many years more running educational and recreational programs for kids.

Understanding our inner lives is the most human thing we do. It’s not a sign of weakness. It takes great strength. And it takes enormous courage to stand up to society’s messages that shame people (especially men) because of what they feel. Many times I’ve had to say this with conviction and let someone borrow my certainty and my strength as they learned to be comfortable opening up and sharing their own heart.

This was a huge lesson for me, and I intend for it to stay learned. People need what I offer them, because they won’t be able to enjoy life, truly and deeply and meaningfully, if they’re being pushed around by their critical automatic thoughts and limiting beliefs and if they keep their feelings wadded up in a jumble in the corner.

The work I do is essential. It touches the essence of being human. It matters in all aspects of a person’s life. It matters.

And that completely changes the way I will talk about it.


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