The courage to sell

the courage to sellFor most of us who have been selling for a long time, it’s almost second nature to us. We don’t even think about it when we make cold calls, or give a presentation or conduct a webinar. You just do it. It’s part of the job.

But take a step back. Do you remember that first cold call you made? Do you remember the first time you stood at an exhibit booth waiting for prospects to walk up to you and ask questions?

How did you feel? Nervous as hell.

Think about for a minute. It takes courage to pick up the phone and call strangers. It takes courage to knock on the doors of strangers. It takes courage to stand at an exhibit booth at a trade show and talk to strangers. I know some people who would rather be unemployed than go into sales. Next, to death and public speaking, selling is probably ranked up there as one of the top things that people are scared of the most. I know one newly hired salesperson who was humiliated by a negative response he received while speaking to a prospect over the phone. It was his first call to a prospect at the company. For the next couple of hours, he didn’t make any more calls. Noon rolled around and he went out to lunch and never returned to work. He didn’t even call his manager and tell her he was quitting. The salesman just disappeared!

And let’s be honest here. Sales professionals are not the most popular people in the world. How many times have you hung up on a telemarketer? How many times have you been interrupted by cold calls from salespeople at work? When you are sitting on a plane and someone next to you says he sells insurance, do you quickly look out of the window and stare at the wing for the rest of the flight? When you see someone standing on a street corner asking for donations for a charity or selling products, do you avoid eye contact and quickly walk away? And don’t you love having a salesperson knocking on your door on a Saturday morning asking if you need energy-efficient windows?

While many of us may love our jobs and the companies we work for, sales professionals are not always…well, treated professionally. In fact, some of us don’t even want to admit that we are sales professionals. We use euphemisms like “consultant” or “account manager.” Or we quickly change the subject. I actually received an email from a contact on LinkedIn who praised me for calling myself a “sales professional” in my job title. He wrote “Nice to see someone with sales still in the title. Also nice to see it teamed with professional. Too many Account Directors or Category Advisors out there. We are all salespeople and some are professionals.”

Be proud you are a sales professional. Because if nothing else, it takes courage to be one.

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