For many, the thought of having to sell something sends people in to a nervous frenzy and denial about their ability. Even some sales people and business leaders admit to feeling this way. The fact is we can all do it. Every single one of us is selling virtually every day. It may not be a product or service, but we’re definitely geared toward convincing others of our credibility, our expertise and our opinions and views.

So why do people recoil at the mere thought of selling? It’s because so many ‘legitimate‘ sales practices we experience as customers are nothing more than manipulation and deceit, aggression and intimidation, or hard sell, pressure tactics. No wonder so many people shy away from selling as a career or cringe at the thought. Whether we are conscious of it or not most of us don’t like how selling is being sold to us. I don’t blame you.

It’s sad for the sales profession to be perceived this way, but it’s up to all of us to change this perception. Rather than putting a clear sales winner on a pedestal and attempting to emulate their sales approach, try your hand at better developing your own.

Your ability is there waiting to be unleashed. It’s not about having the ‘gift of the gab’ or being an extravert. The first point about becoming a good sales person is the ability to listen and being ‘other’ aware. Many of us already possess this skill and for some, it needs to be developed.

Learning how to ask the right questions and monitor your prospect’s needs, wants, likes and problems is paramount to a successful sales career or outcome. Everyone is born curious to some extent and this curiosity is how we discover and learn about the world. As children we want to know how things work, why this happens and where things come from. Children keep asking until they receive a satisfactory answer. So, where’s your inner six year old? As we grow up it seems we lose the ability to actively question and listen. We lose the desire to ask questions. We’ve either lost curiosity or we’ve lost confidence and our internal need to impress takes over. Nevertheless, we need to bring back our inner six year old and start to ask questions and probe for answers that help us provide a solution for our clients and prospects.

It’s also about being genuine and we all can be. In this increasingly networked world we all have the opportunity to connect with others all the time. However, the way each of us portrays ourselves, our companies, our values and our lives are at risk of being seen as superficial if we do not genuinely communicate, connect and create with others.

If we want to cultivate and sustain genuine, healthy, profitable and viable business relationships with our clients, partners, suppliers or peers where a fair exchange of value is achieved then we, our business and our people need to go out to the market place and put ourselves in a position to work proactively with people and help them and ourselves achieve our collective business goals.

Effective sales professionals truly add value to client relationships well beyond the product. The product is now only part of the sale, not the sale itself.

This approach to selling is seen as a distinct competitive advantage to businesses and any sales person or sales team not putting these skills into practice is at risk of losing sales and clients. Training sales people in these skills has a significant effect on the profitability of a business.

Whether you are working as a sales professional, business development manager, lawyer, accountant, engineer, consultant, internal human resources manager, procurement  manager, business, manager, small business owner, team leader, psychologist, a jobseeker, or anyone in contact dependent career, we can all benefit from applying more enlightened, collaborative, worthy, natural sales practices in our daily lives.

Sue Barrett
BY Sue Barrett ON 13 March 2012
Sue Barrett is one of the leading female voices commenting on sales today. An experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider and entrepreneur and founder of Barrett Consulting, which provides sales assessments, sales consulting, sales coaching and sales training programs.

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