“I love sales.” It took me 18 years to say those words and 20 years before I actually believed it. My first sale came in the cafeteria as an elementary student in Keaau, HI. I liked candy and my classmates would pay me a nickle to take their dirty tray to the trash bin so they could go out and play. Candy was cheap in the early 80’s so I didn’t need to dump a lot of plates to get what I wanted. Some of the kids would laugh at me, “stoopid haoli” they’d say, I didn’t mind and kept asking. Sales was part of my DNA.
As an 18 year old I sold my first Kirby. Door to door wasn’t my thing but I was making a good money selling a $2,000 home cleaning unit (don’t you dare call it a vacuum). Sales gave me a rush of adrenaline with each sold unit.
In college, and my early 20’s, I was selling my rock and roll band and sports leagues. I needed to find venues to play at and teams to play in my recreational sports leagues. It was hard work especially since I did this between my day job hours. Sales was a reprieve from my day to day.
When I was 33 my wife came home one day from work and said, “I want to be a stay at home mom.”
What??? We had a deal! I was going to be a rock and roll star and she was going to make a ton of money working in the investment world!!!
Life happened and I was faced with a decision. Provide for my family or…well, there really wasn’t a choice to make I had to provide for my growing family. I didn’t have a degree, my 20’s was spent making music, and my peers had past me in the corporate world. So how does a man provide for his family living in the most overpriced city in America?
He does what he does best. Sales.
If I could sell a “vacuum,” rock and roll band, and sports league I could sell anything. I left my job as a Sr. Credit Analyst and became someone that worked in sales. Even though I was in sales my whole life it had to became my career, that’s when Sales became a dirty word.
My first year with a sales title I crushed it! My commissions were capped so after a year and a half I jumped to the world of recruiting. That’s when I started verbalizing how much I hated sales. The “I hate sales” mantra lasted for many years, “only doing this because I have to.” I’d say. “I’m a project manger really and sales is my project.” My numbers were awful. Coincidence? I think not.
After many years of disappointment I was diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medicine. This resulted in a lot of reading. In my readings I uncovered that loving sales had an impact on actually closing deals. I started immediately saying “I love sales.” I didn’t believe it but I do believe that you fake it until you make it and eventually it stuck. I LOVE SALES.
So why is it that most people don’t love me?
There is a difference between a Sales Professional (good) and a Sales Guy (bad). Yet most people find out what I do for a living and will put me in the “Sales Guy” bucket. To most people sales is sales and if you are in sales I will only talk to you when I have something you can sell me.
Close friends won’t have coffee with me because they don’t have opportunities at their work and don’t want to waste my time.
Waste my time? Why can’t we just catch up over coffee? This is the life that we live in the sales profession.
Let me summarize with this: IGNORE the Sales Guy and EMBRACE the Sales Professional.
How can you tell the two apart? Easy. The Sales Guy is always pitching you. The Sales Professional doesn’t pitch you at all.
I’ve often said, “I don’t sell, they buy.” It’s true. A Sales Professional is all about YOU and only wants to learn more about what you do to determine if there is a match of your need and their solution. If not, it’s a mutual acknowledgement and both parties have at least added someone new to their network.
A Sales Guy is like a bad date. You know the type, can’t stop talking about themselves and how great they are. A Sales Guy won’t shut up about what they perceive is valuable about their product or service.
A Sales Professional is like a good date. One that isn’t too pushy, but genuinely wants to know more about who they are sharing the table with.
A Sales Guy is someone that only reaches out when it benefits them.
A Sales Professional is someone that will send a note or call just to say hello.
A Sales Guy is someone that will take you on as a client even if it’s not a good match. Because revenue is revenue and as a paying customer he will sell you his product. BLECH
A Sales Professional is someone that will turn your business away if it’s not a win-win for both his product or service and your need.
Just because ‘Sales’ is in the title you may want to find out first which type of person they are before you give them the label of Sales Guy. For when you speak to a Sales Professional it will never be a waste of time.