“But I’m Not Even Supposed To Be Here!”

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“I never really planned on going into sales.”

Does anyone?  Well, does most anyone?  

It amazes me how many times I hear this from people, especially emerging sales professionals, though also more seasoned ones at times.  Not many of us “went to school” for sales.  We didn’t come out of higher education with a degree in sales.  

Very recently two different clients said these exact words to me.  In both cases I was curious and very amused because both individuals have shown up big as newbies to this honorable path. And continuing with the curious side of this, it really dawned on me that it’s more of you newbies that this profession needs and demands. 

Now to be fair to those of you who saw sales as your preferred route, your destiny, know that I love you too.  You set the tone of clarity for the rest. It’s because of you and your commitment to sales, that others of less initial intention can benchmark what’s possible. The one typical thing for the committed sales zealot though is this: most of you come from a similar profile.  Whether you prescribe to Myers-Briggs, DISC, Strengthsfinder, Winslow, Birkman, or The Enneagram (whew!, I know there are more…), generally your profile tends toward only about 25% of the marketplace audience and how they are built as individuals, their preferences and behaviors at any given moment.

Now, candidly I’m no genius of sociology, psychology or economics and will not cite myriad data here to persuade you.  I do know that to reach people requires intention.  And it’s essential that we can connect with others who don’t look and sound and think the way we do.  This is where the reluctant sales professional is critical to what moves our economy, our marketplace, our careers as corporate professionals and business owners. We need others, the other 75% to keep the conversation true to what people really want and need for themselves and their businesses and employers.  

I think the sales profession has shown movement in the direction of a more diverse series of thoughts and perspectives on approach and effectiveness.  We want to embrace those that are not “typical” of the known sales professional persona.  

Sales leadership take note: 

  1. Hire more of the different, not the same. No one should see 12identical V-neck sweaters in the conference room during sales meetings. 
  2. Look inside your organization for the hidden gem, the reluctant sales professional, as a candidate to fill a void you may have at this moment. They will surprise you.
  3. Dump the CV “cirque du soleil” when searching for talent outside your organization.  Come up with a list of characteristics that are completely different from yours and start there.  Someone out there in potential client-land will love what they bring to the table.
  4. Seek guidance from other leaders, individual contributors, sales technicians, marketeers, operations and customer service pros for their input on what they think a great sales experience is and how it affects them.  Interview their “sales professional” via the story this person tells about them and why it was so memorable.
  5. Interview all the time.  Interview people who are not looking to move to new surroundings.  Interview people who aren’t even in your marketplace.  Find out what kinds of amazing people are out there and if they’re not a fit, that’s OK, that’s what makes them good at what they do right here, right now.  And try and hire them anyway!

There really are so many amazingly interesting people within the sales profession today.  I continue to meet gifted, curious, funny, serious, responsible learners.  And I still meet the other more recognizable persona too. I want both personas in the family, a wonderful mosaic that meets the dreams and desires of your next client.  

I guide emerging sales professionals to build trust, become more relevant, and surpass their competitors, creating the ultimate personal, professional, and financial success for them and their businesses.”  What could your next version of you, the emerging sales professional, be like if your approach was to focus on another’s agenda first? Here’s a link to start creating that discussion right now!

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