by Steve Victor


Making sales sexy again - The world’s oldest profession

Sales is the oldest profession in the history of our species. Whatever your philosophical or religious starting point, a sales event kicked it all off (Adam and Eve were sold on the benefits of the fruit by the Serpent).

In every sector, tech domain, stage of business and geography, being good at sales vastly improves the prospects of your company.

Selling Downunder

For some reason, the word ‘sales’ carries weird and consequential connotations in New Zealand. It is seen as something second-hand car salesmen do, and leaves you with an ‘icky’ feeling. Or when cults try to get you engaged with their intriguing magazines of fiction at the vegetable markets.

This might be a culture leftover from the British – selling is seen as crude, lowbrow and pedestrian. This is not helpful if we want to be a globally relevant country.

If you need some other more specific reasons for becoming great at sales:

Most of the energy coming into a company, with founders in particular, comes from the sales process; the collision point between your proposition and the customer. Prospects are interested in you and what you do. They believe the same things you believe. They want to make things happen and give you feedback. Think of how excited you get when you are buying a product or service you are passionate about; that excitement drives energy into you and your team.

Typically, the companies that take selling seriously build enduring cultural attributes. These typically include being customer-centric, responsive, urgent, commercially minded and so on. Being a great listener is the most vital behavioural trait of a successful seller – no one ever failed by listening too much.

If you want to ever exit your company, you can be sure that acquirers will value you for your sales focus, and its presence in your cultural habits (if and where they exist). Most big industry players have forgotten how to sell or do so lazily.

Being great at selling gives you more strategic options. If you are considering entering a new market, knowing you know how to sell makes it less intimidating. Ditto if you need to pivot your proposition. Better sales skills equal more options.

Most of all, the more you sell, the more time you spend on understanding your market and customers. When your customer intimacy increases, so do your chances of winning your market.

Selling is the greatest profession.

You can get out of most challenging situations through a bit of salesmanship. Revenue problem? Sell more stuff and sell it for more.

Most founders have a natural affinity for sales, even if they don’t know it. They understand the problem domain deeply, have unique insights, and ooze passion for a different world.

Being great at sales is a superpower. Where you have it, use it. Where you don’t, work on it.

Please note that some of the content above comes from an article I read recently, written by Serge van Dam.


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