Why Are You In Sales? – Sales eXchange 20020

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

200A

At the end of this post I will ask you a specific question that I would love you to answer, and I thank you here in advance.

Two things happened this past week or 10 days that led to this week’s Sales eXchange  being a bit different than the usual, and isn’t that what we always strive to be in sales.  First is the fact that this is the 200th Sales eXchange post, and while I had given it much thought, someone asked if I will be marking the fact in any way.  The person that asked me was a young person at an event I participated in recently. The event was organized to present young people with different options for their life after school.

One of the questions going into the event was “What do you want to be?”  Some had very clear ideas, knowing exactly where they want to go.  One young lady was determined to become a speech pathologist due to a friend she had in grade school.   She structured her high school curriculum to set her up for a path of success in post-secondary school, and to her dream career.  Others stated a number of different career plans, some very specific, marketing, finance, construction, software design, and more.  Others were a bit more general, the young man who asked about the 200th post simply stated business.  As an aside, it seems he had been spying my blog (and others) to glean ideas for his high school business class, at least someone is getting value at an early age. But in the end no one said they wanted to go into sales, not one.

Consider that according to the United States Department of Labor, there just under 14 million people employed in sales as of May 2012 in the USA.  The same department pegs the number of lawyers at under 1 million, and software developers (systems and applications) also under 1 million.  Yet fewer than a handful of institutions offer a degree in selling or sales.

There were a number of kids who talked about becoming lawyers, software developers, doctors, even golf pros, but not one said sales.  Which begs the question that if no one sets out to become a sales professional, where the hell did we all come from?  Are we progressing as a profession, or just a modern day version of post war refugee camps full of people making due while they find their next destination?  Are we a repository of other professions outcasts, with the occasional diamond in the rough?  After all, almost 50% of sellers do not make quota, this would not be tolerated in any other department.

So here is my ask – take a minute and think about where you are in sales as a career, how you got here, how you’re doing.  Then take a minute and in the comment box below, tell me:

Why Are You In Sales?

Tibor Shanto

 

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20 Comments

  1. Hugh Sutherland

    Hi once again Tibor, First, congratulations on your 200th post, this is quite an achievement. What is even more significant is the fact that you have found enough in “Sales” to fill 200 posts!
    Although I have spent most of my life in road transport engineering, it has included over a decade masquerading as a sales representative, half of which was as a sales manager.
    One thing I have learned however is that all business starts with a SALE of something to someone who obviously sees Value in exchanging money for the perceived benefit in concluding the “deal”.
    As no business can exist without a SALE it is, as you have pointed out, amazing that selling is not seen as a formal profession – Marketing yes – but not selling, and we all know the difference here.
    I believe one of the reasons selling for a living does not feature as a profession is that it is probably the only “profession” where your salary is derived from direct results [commission]. Also selling means you must have a sort of divided loyalty to the employer as well as your customer. Another reason is that it is also one of the only professions where performance is measured against target, which in some instances is seriously affected by many internal factors and not making target leads to insecurity. In the end only the bold will attempt to make a living as a sales representative.

    • Tibor Shanto

      Hugh,

      Great input as always.

      I like the point you make about divided loyalties, it is a balance that many do well and others do not.

      While reliance commission is true, many make a good base, and often don’t make an effort for more, while others see base as just a starting point. It would be good to polish and enhance the latter attitudes and habits.

      Tibor

  2. Sean Maloney

    Sales allows me to use my personal qualities to achieve, grow and enjoy a great life.

    Sales is a great profession and I am proud to be a sales person

    • Tibor Shanto

      Thanks for the feedback Sean.

      Tibor

  3. Marc Trebels

    Hi Tibor,

    I like your quote on the number of sales people in the US, 14 million sales professionals in the US! My guess is that the fact that there are so few institutes teaching “Sales” might have something to do with that..If you can’t succeed anywhere else you can always go in to sales. the so called accidental sales guys and gales…
    But to answer your question, i guess I’m in Sales because of the fact that there is no other profession were you can have so much influence on your own work and results. Even if you are a junior sales rep, the whole reason you succeed or fail is entirely up to you. Well for a large part it is anyway…

    • Tibor Shanto

      Marc,

      Thanks for the feedback. I agree that there is a great opportunity for influence.

      Tibor

  4. Michael Law

    Good morning Tibor,

    I retired in International and Domestic Sales after 30 years of service with the same Firm holding various positions. You have to sale yourself first and them the Company products. If the Customer and/or Client does not trust you then they won’t trust the Company product. Prior to being in sales I held the following positions, General Traffic Manager and Local Manager, Vice President and General Manager. The people in Transportation Sales called on me for the Business we controlled all over the Globe. The good ones and the bad ones would make sales calls on me and I learned from the good ones and didn’t do business with the bad ones. I had always been a salesman over the phone prior to being in outside sales. I woke up one day and made up my mine, I have seen the good ones and the bad ones calling on me and went for it. The school teacher of my son asked the class what do want to be when you complete school. My son said Sales like my Dad. The teacher asked why and he said all he does all day is talk and eat, talks with this one and has lunch with that one. If the man is willing to pay for you to talk and eat all day, what a dream job! That’s all Folks!

    • Tibor Shanto

      Michael,

      Great feedback, thank you.

      Tibor

  5. Michael Law

    Tibor – IT IS NOT ABOUT WINNING BUT HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME TO BECOME A WINNER!

    • Tibor Shanto

      Yes, but it is great to play well AND win!

  6. Dan O'Brien

    Having started out in engineering, at first I was a little embarrassed to admit that I was in sales. Enough so that I’d introduce myself as the new sales ENGINEER for my company, whispering the word sales and emphasizing the word ENGINEER. Really, look at Miriam-Webster’s dictionary, definition #3 for the word sell is “to deliver into slavery for a price”. I mean, talk about a negative connotation. Ultimately a customer gave me a book on selling and suggested I read it. Wary about learning how to bend peoples minds to my will I opened the book and it said that as a salesman you have two jobs, the first being to convince people that it is in their best interest to trust and do business with you. The second being to make sure it is in their best interest to trust and do business with you. No tricks, nothing up my sleeve, just the customer’s best interests at heart. Suddenly I was proud of my sales title, and have built a business around making sure it is in my customers best interest to trust and do business with my company.

    • Tibor Shanto

      Dan,

      Great feedback.

      I completely agree that if you have the customers interest at heart and act to deliver on that, you can hold your head high as a salesperson.

      Thanks,
      Tibor

  7. Vikalp

    I am in Sales to sale, sale and sale.

    • Tibor Shanto

      Vikalp,

      That sounds like a good reason, I’ll let you get to it.

      Tibor

  8. Mike Osterhaudt

    I am in sales because my other position disappeared, and my sales friends persuaded me to go into sales.
    9 years and several “President’s Club’s” later I am very glad they did!
    I get to use my technical background to help my customers meet their needs, and make good $$

    • Tibor Shanto

      Mike,

      Thanks for the good news feedback.

      Tibor

  9. Nicole Walter

    I am in Sales because I love it. It is the embodiment of what it means to be a true partner in a holy trinity of respect with my end users, my employer, and the manufacturers I represent. I learn new things daily. I never thought I would be in sales. I just always have been and intend to do so until my time is up. I love it.

    • Tibor Shanto

      Thanks Nicole, I like the trinity pony of view.

      Tibor

  10. Arnas

    working in Sales is the best thing in my life. In this area are the bigest challenges!!!

    • Tibor Shanto

      Arnas,

      Sounds like you really enjoy. thanks for the input.

      Tibor

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