Think you’re not in sales? Think again

Gain 3 skills by improving your sales pitch.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

What comes to mind when you think of the word sales? When that question is posed, I typically get one of two strong responses: People either love it, or they hate it.

Personally, I’m in the love camp, but unfortunately for many people sales is a cringeworthy word. It has gotten a bad rap over the years, and to some people it can be tied to negative stereotypes that imply pressuring or manipulation. It might be true that it takes a certain type of personality to go into sales as a career, but no matter what profession you choose, you must know how to sell to reach high levels of success.

At its most noble level, the goal of selling is to create a win-win opportunity for everyone involved. If you look at it that way, sales is great thing. Not only does this approach put sales in a more positive light, it can also make the act of selling much easier.

If you aren’t a salesperson by trade, why should you care about being a good salesperson? Have you ever needed to convince coworkers to get behind a new initiative or show your boss that you deserve a raise or promotion? Have you ever tried to convince people to invest in a new idea or business? These are just a few examples, but anytime you try to convince others to take action or to understand and support the logic and benefits of a decision, you are selling. For most people, this happens several times a day without recognizing they are engaged in a sales pitch.

By understanding the importance of having strong sales skills and investing in the development of these abilities, you will accrue lasting dividends in your career and life. Although there are many benefits of becoming a top-notch salesperson, there are at least three important things that you will acquire by improving your salesmanship:

  1. Self-confidence: Every day, you are selling yourself in one way or another to a potential date, to your coworkers, to prospects, and even to friends. Occasionally, you are going to hear “no,” but by staying persistent and moving forward in the face of adversity, you will become more confident and self-assured. The more confident you are, the more others will become confident in you.
  2. Negotiating skills: I don’t know a single person who’s never had to negotiate something, which involves the art of persuasion. As they say in The Hunger Games, “May the odds ever be in your favor.” If you continue to improve at sales, the odds will definitely be in your favor in any type of negotiation.
  3. The ability to close: For some reason, people are usually more than willing to help others when they are asked, but they have a very difficult time asking for what they want from other people. Great salespeople know how to close, and because of this they are much more likely to get what they want in both professional and personal situations.

Regardless of your current attitude toward sales, those who consistently work to improve their sales skills will be the most successful. I hope I’ve sold you on why improving in this area is so important, so here are two action items to get you started.

Fast Track Action Items for September:
■    Make it a priority to improve your selling skills, no matter what your profession. Two of my favorite books on the topic are a brand new release called The Sell by Fredrik Eklund and The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy.
■    Commit to selling something, whether it’s an actual product or service of your business, or something more abstract like an idea, a new initiative, or even yourself for a new position.

Email to let me know what sales strategies have worked for you in terms of actual products, or in the more abstract sense of the word.

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building opportunities to local business leaders.

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