To sell or not to sell? It’s something that comes up often in our lives but let me be clear that I am not talking about stocks, auctions, or anything of the sort. I am referring to the choice between going the career path or going into business for yourself. Now, I can go into the advantages and disadvantages between both paths but I really want to keep this one short because I’m long overdue for some good blogs and, boy, do I have a lot of rough drafts that need completion!
The simple reality is that most people are not cut out to go into business for themselves. Even those that have “successful” businesses, may not have solid plans or what it really takes to make a business truly profitable. Consider the folks that you know are in business for themselves. Chances are you know maybe one person that is really living the good life but the rest of them are probably busting more tail than they did when they did the ‘ol 9-to-5 thing. If you just consider that and then look at the fact that a good lot of people go into business to get their time freedom back, they’ve already failed coming in through the door with their great business idea.
Let’s face it: most people are not brilliant enough to think outside of box or, better yet, realize that there is no box. Some people need to be micro-managed. Most folks are not self-starters and need to be told what to do; in fact, they love the rat race, though they may say otherwise. If you are the cut-throat type and/or just a social butterfly, a career path just makes sense. I’m not saying that other folks won’t survive but I’m saying that brown-nosing, social networking, and aggressive effort are often the keys to career paths, not what your skills are, how nice you are, or things that may matter otherwise. When you go into business, the operational stuff becomes more relevant but, regardless, business will always be like high school: a popularity contest.
The core issue here is whether or not you have a willingness to sell. If you are in business for yourself, you are selling something even if you are not doing sales. You are selling your image, your knowledge, your experience, your story and marketing message. It is inevitable. You may not use seller talk but you are still, at heart, a salesperson. Why? Because the only way you will see money is if you make a sale and that takes a concerted effort between all your team players. If you are a sole proprietor, you can’t dodge this; even as a silent partner or investor in a business, you will find yourself plugging the business at a mixer, product launch, business forum, or other social networking event.
Now it’s time to burst the bubbles of those that continue to insist that they do not want to sell and never will. Guess what? You already do. No matter what line of work you are in, you are selling yourself. Possibly the only exception is if you are doing grunt work. No, not even. Why is this? Well, the greatest sale takes place when you show people that you are the man or woman for the job. Even after that sale is complete, you keep on selling through, reminding your employer, client, customer, or whomever you directly report to, why you were chosen for the job.
The thing that scares people about selling is that they don’t want to lose their friends. That’s essentially the #1 concern, regardless of what the surface-level excuse may be. Maybe you are afraid to sell something you don’t believe in. Maybe you feel your sales script is not genuine and you feel awkward. Perhaps you feel there is no prestige in what you do. Chances are your friends have had hard sales pushed on them and they think the same thing that most people do: sales people are aggressive people that can’t take “no” for an answer. The reality is that the best salespeople are so good that you don’t even know they are trying to sell you on something.
In the end, the difference between getting the dirty feeling of being a salesperson or being a “professional” comes down to how passionate you are about what you are doing. If you believe in your product, service, or “thing”, it won’t matter if you are trying to sell sand to people living in the desert. Prestige is also a big part of it all. It’s actually been proven that prestige, appreciation, and time freedom are often the big focus before even money – GASP!
Prestige matters because who wants to be at a party and feel embaressed when asked “so what do you do for a living”? Of course, I’m sure you know the folks that sell make-up or toilet-cleaning products and are proud. Someone else may look at them and feel sorry but, I tell ya’, they may be a lot more happy than the guy that hates his Wall Street job, even though he makes a quarter of a million dollars.. every quarter. Hell, I know all those people and it all comes down to belief. If you believe in something and it fills your heart with so much fire that you will see it through in spite of the negative Nellies and nay-sayers, nothing can stop you.
To me, everyone should try selling at least once. This time, I mean the real sales, whether it’s retail, direct sales, territory sales, or whatever else there is out there, the sales experience holds life lessons for all. There are few opportunities where one can built a Rolodex of solid contacts that will last the rest of your life. It’s not about about trying to make a buck off of someone. It’s about meeting people, learning about THEIR things, and perhaps making a friend along the way. Once you make friends, you can help some friends but, again, you need to truly believe that what you are doing has value or else all your efforts will feel dirty and insincere because, guess what, that’s just what they are.
I remember doing some very lucrative MLM businesses. I believed in the services and made some good money. In the end, however, I had to stop because I wasn’t passionate and I stopped feeling honest in my approach. I was being made out to be a piranha and, well, it was true. You shouldn’t meet people in hopes of making a sale, you have to meet people to make a connection. It’s just tough not mentioning your thing cause, well, everyone has a thing that they want to share with people. Some folks are singers, some are artists, others do stupid pet tricks, and then there are those that sell you shampoo and rug cleaners. There’s room in the world for everyone but folks need to be more real with themselves.
One thing I remember in the last major MLM/Direct Sales job that I did was that, when I was asked if I sold something, I’d be one of the only guys doing my “thing” that would say “I sure do but I don’t think you want to hear about it”! It’s amazing how funny we human beings are. If you offer someone the cure to cancer and genuinely want to share it, people think you are selling something but, if you do a take-away or downplay details to an extreme, suddenly you created value. It’s all in the magic of storytelling and you’ll see me mention this more and more. Marketing and story telling go hand-in-hand and, heck, they are pretty much synonymous.
Before I go astray once again, the reality of it all is that there is no job where there is shame unless you are not doing what you truly feel you love. If you are not deceiving yourself, you cannot deceive others. It’s as simple as that. Sadly, people are not brave enough to confront others so we build social constructs and communication mediums that allow us to put walls up. Doing outside sales would force people to get out of their comfort zone and possibly make their friends feel bad simply because they are, as they say in the ghetto vernacular, haters. Life has many tough decisions to make and the choice between doing sales or not is really the choice between living a life of mediocrity or being truly successful. For our purposes, let’s measure success as something that will build a legacy, not just significance. You see, a legacy is born when you help others reach significance and just getting a mere promotion at your job is truly petty in the grand scheme of things. Yes, I just went a little Zen on you. You’ll love me for it later!