Fifth in the Series

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On Getting Ahead, Getting a Job and/or Getting Funded

Advice Too Simple Not to Know

Sell. Even Though You Think You Can’t or that You Don’t Need To

I have over heard real estate agents being asked, “Are you still selling real estate?” I have overheard life insurance agents being asked, “Are you still selling life insurance?” I, too, have asked a Procter and Gamble management trainee, “Have you grown tired of selling Pringles?”
No one asks a brain surgeon, “Are you still a brain surgeon?” No one asks a management consultant, “Are you still consulting?” I have learned the lesson that to those who choose careers in real estate or life insurance or any profession, “Are you still…?” It is insulting and implies that they could do better if they only tried.

As I have thought about it though, the question “Are you still…?” is almost always asked of those in some sort of sales role. As in, sales is the dirty part of the job and try to do something that doesn’t involve sales. Wake up, because sales is a part of every career that I know of and it is not something to run away from. Developing sales skills will make you more successful, regardless of your career.

Every entrepreneur, no matter how geeky, no matter how technical will have to sell their idea in order to raise money. Every candidate for every job will have to sell skills and potential to get hired. I cannot think of any role in any profession that does not require sales skills. In consulting I often heard, “I don’t want to become a Partner because I don’t want to sell.” Come on, no matter the level, there is selling so get with the program and learn how to sell and sell well.

Are you in the services business? Are you a CEO? Are you a dog catcher? Are you raising money? Are you sitting next to someone on an airplane who can hire you? Are you going into graduate school? Are you a novelist? Are you trying to convince your daughter not to get that tattoo down there? Are you dealing with a gate agent for that upgrade? You Are Selling.

There are plenty of books out there that will tell you how to sell in 300 pages. The advice will include know your customer, know your product and ask for the sale. All good advice. In typical bulleted fashion, here are a few pearls of wisdom that might help you capture a sale or two.

Use the phrases, “unabashed self promotion or unabashed sales try”. People know when they are being sold to anyway so be blatant about it. Awkward as that might be, it cuts to the chase and you know an answer one way or the other. Don’t ever be embarrassed about selling.

If it is something you really, really want to sell, be very, very persistent. I once hired someone just so I would no longer have to deal with their constant barrage of how much they wanted the job. Anyone who wants it that bad, must be pretty goal-driven.

If what you are selling isn’t selling, sell the next best thing while you have some attention. In other words, if the interviewer is obviously not interested in your analytical ability as demonstrated by checking the blackberry; start selling the hardships you endured while your Dad was in prison. If the venture capitalists are clearly not interested in your business model, make sure you let them know that it is a work in process and you are considering that could lead to bigger profits.
There is no getting around it. We are all selling. We all can be good at selling in our own way. Know what that way is and get better at selling.

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