I was at a cocktail party listening to an interesting conversation between two other guests who were in the same huddle as me.
Person A: What do you do?
Person B: I sell financial services.
Person A: What do you really want to do?
Person B: I want to be banker.
I asked A why he asked that question, and B why he responded that way. A said, “isn’t selling a profession that is not respected?” B said “yes”, it is so difficult to sell because customers look at him with suspicion. In my three decades of being in business and playing the roles of seller, buyer, leader, trainer, consultant and coach of sales professionals, I have encountered this attitude towards sales on many occasions.
However, my personal attitude towards sales is the opposite. As I reflect on the questions – how is it that people have developed this attitude towards sales, and what would be the best way to help people to look differently at sales? – the notion of purposefulness continues to come to my mind. Perhaps if I can find out if ‘sales’ is a purposeful profession, then it might help me to engage with people who have diverse viewpoints regarding this question.
Answering the above question requires understanding what is a purposeful profession. While I have attempted to answer this question in the earlier blog posts regarding purposefulness, there is no definite answer due to the complexity of this question. I believe that a purposeful profession needs to be of service to the flourishing of life and supported by noble values. Let’s examine these two aspects in relation to the sales profession.
The first question raised earlier was; why people have a negative impression about selling. If we look from some customer’s points of view, it could be because of the negative perception regarding sales people. This is because sales people are bold, persuasive and skilled in selling products that may not even be required by the customer. If we look at it from some salespersons’ point of view it is because of customer rejections they have faced, specially by those who don’t trust sales people and the inadequate effort by their managers to develop them to help customers buy. If we look at it from a view point of some sales-managers and other managers in organisations, it is because of the poor level of success of sales people in achieving targets and building customer loyalty.
I believe that it is possible to look at Sales in both a positive and a negative manner, based on the manner people choose to engage in the profession. If one chooses to be authentic, tell the customer the truth even if it hurts the sales performance, understand customer needs, educate customers and help the customer to make the most appropriate buying decision, even if it means recommending a competitor product, such people are of service to the flourishing of life. Hence, we could consider that such people engage in the sales profession in a purposeful manner.
If any sales professional is to behave with this mind-set, they would live by noble values such as integrity, authenticity, empathy, helpfulness, caring, selflessness etc. Those who possess such values and choose to live by it and use it in their professions, are of service to the flourishing of life. Hence, we could consider that such people engage in the sales profession in a purposeful manner.
Those who believe in the universal energy system and/or those with a spiritual orientation would argue that, people living in a positive manner accumulate positive energy, which attracts success and happiness. Therefore, it can be considered that sales people who chose to conduct themselves in a purposeful manner would attract success and happiness. While such conduct is not easy in a competitive landscape, tough targets and survival of the fittest, those who are courageous to adopt this way of being can be successful sales professionals in the medium and long term, and would contribute to change the negative image the sales profession has acquired.
My blog posts from the last three months addresses the impact of violence, religion, politics and sports on the lives of people, and how to makes sense of various world events from the frame of purposefulness. We continue to explore purposefulness, this time through a business profession; sales.
The question I was attempting to answer in this blog was; how is it that people develop a negative attitude towards sales and what would be the best way to help people to look differently at sales? The exploration in this writing shows that the purposefulness of the sales profession depends on how sales professionals conduct themselves. If they chose to be of service to the flourishing of life and if they chose to live and work with noble values, then they would be conducting themselves purposefully. It is also an invitation for others to explore this way of being.
The intention of this writing is to give you some material to help you reflect and make sense of your experience and attitude towards the sales profession as a sales professional, members of other professions or a customer. The way this question impact different people are different, given their mind-set, role and various other aspects of life. I recommend that you reflect on the steps you can take to use this experience to make sense of your purpose and help others in your life make sense of their purpose, with the intention of living a better life, in order to make this world a better place.
This new phase in this series on ‘purposefulness’, which I started seven months ago, is dedicated to address living issues and struggles related to purposeful living. I hope this short blog post inspires you to find ways of making sense and dealing with experiences and struggles you encounter trying to live purposefully.
I wish you purposeful living!