I have seen a couple of ding-dongs on LinkedIn this week, where a few individuals have got a bit cross about people trying to market and promote their services and products during these testing times. Those on the receiving end of the criticism have pointed out that we are all in this together, business needs to continue and actually their services might be pretty useful to people during these testing times.
I see this argument as a reflection of the issue ‘we’ in the UK have around sales activity generally. I say ‘we’ really in reference to many people’s perception in the UK where ‘sales’ and ‘salesmen’ still hold a connotation of Del Boy Trotter’s Independent Traders, or the double glazing hard sell. On reflection in my first sentence, by calling selling ‘trying to market and promote’ I might even be accused of trying to disguise that ghastly activity of selling!
However, when you consider how many clever and otherwise very confident people will say “I could never be a salesman”? I think you start to uncover the truth. If challenged their answers will range from having the nerve and the knowledge to cold call, coping with being rejected again and again or pushing a product or service where they are not sure of the value. What they really mean is that they don’t have the training, experience and competency to sell thereby indirectly recognising the talent and skill required to be a professional salesperson and business developer.
Of course, in the US they have overcome this prejudice and a Sales role is rightly recognised as an admirable and respected profession to aspire to and be proud of. We need to overcome this British reserve and properly value the skill and capabilities involved in sales tasks.
I definitely fall into the “actually our services could be really useful to other businesses right now” camp. I see now as a unique time and therefore an ideal opportunity to do things differently. It might depend where you are on the change curve of course, but I’m trying to look forward and see how we can support our clients so that they can be thriving when we come out the other side and (whisper it) ensure that our business also continues to prosper during these challenging times.
My view is that this all boils down to purpose, or the ‘why do you ultimately do what you do?’ Do you believe in what you sell? Do you feel that you can add insight and value to your clients, even during a crisis? Can you truly help them? For me personally this works on two levels; I feel passionate about helping individuals perform to their best and be happy in their roles, and I feel driven to help my clients improve performance for their business.
It’s not rocket science to say that believing in your product or service makes it easier to sell. But taking it a step further – by being passionate about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ you can support and partner with other businesses so they can flourish – is something to be proud of and yes, sell, even now. Your passion will be plain to see and is an important part of becoming a trusted partner with your clients over the long-term, helping them through the rough and the smooth.
So, on second thoughts, I will not whisper it. I am passionate about what we at Bloojam do and the value we deliver to our customers that will help them and us to thrive both in these difficult times and on the other side when we all come out of this together.
Sarah is a Chartered Psychologist and Director of Bloojam Consulting Ltd.