How to Sell if You Hate Selling
"I hate selling."
I've heard that statement a thousand times–often from entrepreneurs whose success depends upon their ability to sell their ideas, their firm and their products.
And that's a shame, because if you hate selling, you'll never be good at it, and that means at least lost revenue–and in the worst case, company failure.
In my experience, it's the entrepreneurs who really love selling who are the most successful. Steve Jobs, for instance, was incredibly good at pitching his products. Watch any video of Jobs at an announcement, and you can absolutely feel his sense of joy–not just in the product, but in telling a story about the product. Jobs loved selling; there's no question about it.
Time for an Attitude Adjustment
When I interview the CEOs of start-ups, I can usually predict whether or not the company is going anywhere by the way the CEO talks about selling. If they think it's the soul of success, they're going to do well. If they think it's a chore, not so much.
So, if you hate selling, it's absolutely in your interest to get over it–and, even better, cultivate a love of the selling process. And that's what this post is about.
To help you through this process, let's examine the root of this "hatred." In my experience, people "hate selling" because they hold one or more of the following beliefs:
- Selling is manipulative. Many people (entrepreneurs included) swallow that hokum that sales is all about manipulating people into buying something that they don't really want to buy. By this line of thought, the typical salesperson is a fast-talking slick-head. Who wants to be like that?
- Selling is annoying. Selling sometimes involves repeated emails and phone calls, both of which tend to be unwelcome. Most people have had unpleasant experiences with pesky salespeople who won't take no for an answer. And who wants to be a pest?
- Selling is boring. Most business tasks can be undertaken full speed, with progress limited only by the amount of time you're willing to spend. Selling, however, involves plenty of "hurry up and wait" while prospective customers mull things over before they "get back to you."
If you personally hold any of those three beliefs (much less all of them), there's no way that you won't "hate selling."
So the way to change your emotion about selling is to undercut those beliefs with different beliefs that will create a different emotion.
- Selling is actually helping. Once you make the decision that you'd never, ever sell somebody something they don't need, you're free to see selling for what it really is: helping somebody else get what they want. Most of the time, selling is all about making people happy by providing them with what they truly need. What's manipulative about that?
- Selling is actually sociable. If you make the decision that you're not going to annoy anyone–much less a prospective customer–you're free to look at the selling process in terms of making new acquaintances and having interesting conversations about stuff that interests you. (Hey, isn't that why you got into business?) It's fun for you and it's fun for the other person, too.
- Selling is actually learning. When you decide to learn something valuable in every sales situation, selling becomes far more interesting than watching TV or playing a computer game. People are fascinating–and never more so than when they're making decisions. Get curious and you'll never be bored again.
Is it really possible to change your beliefs and consequently learn to love selling. Oh, you betcha. I'm a perfect example.
When I started my own freelance writing business more than a decade ago, I dreaded selling for all the reasons I listed above. However, I quickly figured out that my success would be just as dependent upon my ability to sell as my ability to write.
If You Aren't Selling ...
Back then I was writing mostly about high tech, but over time, as I learned more about selling, I was drawn to start writing about it. Now I think it's one of the most interesting parts of the business world–because if sales aren't happening, you don't have a business.
I've also learned that selling is like any other human endeavor: The more you do it, the better you get at it. Also, when it comes to selling, a little bit of effort put into training yourself goes a long way. Ultimately, it becomes like riding a bike, automatic and easy. Fun, too.
So, if you still hate selling, I strongly recommend that you put those old beliefs aside and change your attitudes. After all, whether you like it or not, you're going to have to sell in order to be successful. Learn to love it, and you'll achieve your goals far faster.
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GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist
Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.