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Talent & Recruitment
Selling as a Profession
Jun 2, 2010 | Paul McCord lock

Like many of you, I have many roles that I must fill. I am a sales trainer and coach; I am a sales management consultant; I am a writer and speaker; and I am a salesperson. As the owner of a sales training and management consulting company, I don't have the luxury of concentrating on just one activity. I'm sure most of you don't either.

But as we look at the various activities that make up our jobs, we must keep in mind what it is that is our primary function. And no matter what our title-account rep, realton, loan officer, financial planner, producing manager, manager, sales rep, business owner, attorney, accountant, architect, or whatever, we must be ever mindful that our primary job is selling-that is, keeping the business open and healthy. We are the production force for our company, whether that company consists of just ourselves or tens of thousands of employees.

Yet, I find that many of the people I work with and speak to want to be anything but salespeople. They go out of their way to adopt titles that minimize their selling responsibilities. An examination of their business cards gives no clue as to their primary function. Speak with them and they never use the words sales, selling or salesperson. They use euphemisms, they use industry jargon, or they just plain avoid a direct discussion of their role.

Some when asked directly will freely admit that they don't want to be identified or associated with selling and sales. They view themselves as professionals in their industry who on occasion must unfortunately act as a salesperson. But during these most uncomfortable of moments, they still refuse to address their role directly. They are embarrassed to collect the necessary data to complete an order or have a new client sign a contract.

Such action is self-defeating. Without a clear understanding and appreciation for what one's primary function is, it is difficult to be successful at it and very possibly confusing for the client. The client is well aware that they are in the process of purchasing a product or service. They know the person in front of them is trying to sell them something. Yet, when that person gives the impression that they are uncomfortable selling the product or service, what message does that send to the client?

One of my coaching clients is one of the top financial planners in the country. She runs circles around most other financial planners in terms of both her production and her technical skills. What does she attribute her great success to? Her highly developed technical skills? No. Her strong marketing? No. Then what? She contributes a great deal of her success to her competition's attitude toward their job. She sees herself as a salesperson who is a financial planner. She isn't afraid of selling. In fact, she prides herself in being a salesperson first, a technician second. Her competition, she says, will do anything to avoid the "salesperson" image. Great technicians they may be, but they can't generate business as she does because they avoid the very actions and abhor the attitude that produces the business. And she believes that as long as her competition views themselves as financial planners who must stoop to selling on occasion, she'll never have serious competition for the majority of her target market.

We are participants in an honourable profession, one that has been the backbone of most societies for thousands of years. We are the ones who feed and clothe the world. We're the ones that allow the government to run, who allow the corporations to thrive and to hire all those millions of workers, who allow researchers to find new cures and develop new technologies, and who have allowed the quality of life improvements that have literally changed the way people live. We are the force that "makes the world go 'round."

The next time you feel hesitant about identifying yourself as a sales professional, keep in mind the role you play in the world's economy. And keep in mind that your client knows you're a salesperson whether or not you want to identify yourself as such or not.

To be effective in your job you must know who you are. You're a professional. You're the one who allows your family, your neighbor-and that prospect you're talking to--to live the life they live.

If you're not comfortable with who you are as a sales professional, why should your prospect be comfortable buying from you?

About the Author:

Best-selling author, speaker, and leading authority on lead generation and personal marketing, Paul McCord has been training, coaching and mentoring salespeople for over 20 years and managing and consulting with companies for over 15 years.

His best-selling first book, Creating a Million Dollars a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals is quickly becoming recognized as the authoritative work on referral selling. His second book, SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar leads salespeople through the 12 areas of professional development required to reach the top in sales.

Paul's articles and interviews have appeared in numerous business and industry publications such as Forbes, Business Week, Advisor Today, Airport Business, Hotel and Motel Management, Selling Power, Fox Business, CNN, Enterprise Week, Sales and Marketing Excellence, and many others.

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