Our columnist and author asks if sales the industry deserves its stigma

Making sales a ‘win: win’ situation

I might surprise you when I say sales thoroughly deserves the stigma attached to it.

Why? Because so many people do it wrong. I mean totally wrong. I mean they don’t have a clue!

Life could have turned out very differently for me. I could have quite easily ended up as the kind of stereo-typical cockney salesperson I’ve spent a career trying to distance myself from – the very kind of people that bring about the stigma!

In fact, if you ever sat down and mapped out what would have been the ideal pre-requisites for the next ‘Del Boy’ Trotter I was probably pretty close to having them all. I was an East End boy – I had working class parents, I left school with no qualifications, I took a Saturday job selling fruit and veg and my wheeler dealer boss drove an ostentatious red Jag and has a pair of stone lions perched incongruously outside his East End London home!

So, where an earth did it all go wrong?

How could such a start in life end up producing a man that is campaigning for the sales sector to be recognised with its ultimate record of legitimacy – its own charter mark? It would be enough to have Arthur Daley turning in his grave!

Well turning or not, I probably think it’s because – even from a very early age – I realised that a ‘sale’ had to provide something of value to both parties.

These days we call it a ‘win: win’ situation. Back then, in the days of my Saturday job, it meant ensuring the customers were buying the fruit and veg from me and not one of the rival shops down the road!

And that really is it in a nutshell – that really is the crux of my teachings.

When both parties are getting something of equal value it doesn’t seem like selling at all – it is a totally pleasant and natural thing to do.

But if you think about it, it’s the total lack of the ‘win: win’ situation that is the cornerstone of every negative salesperson stereotype you can think of.

Just about every plot line for every episode of ‘Only Fools & Horses’, ‘Minder’ and any other TV programme that has hammered home the negative sales stereotype was structured around the protagonist trying to get one over on the buyer.

It was always a total ‘win: lose’ situation in favour of the protagonist. The sales stereotype is no better on TV’s The Apprentice – the contestants rarely think about the buyer, they just want the sale!

If you take things a stage further, just about every sales scandal reported in the media in recent years has had ‘miss-selling’ as the central crux of the issue and it has, once again, ended up as a ‘win: lose’ situation.

Someone has been sold something they didn’t really want, or they’d being left with a product that didn’t measure up to what it was supposed to.

It’s not really surprising ‘sales’ has had a bad reputation!

You can read more of my thoughts and perspective about the stigma associated with sales in my book Funnel Vision Selling Made Easy

To download my book for kindle, https://amzn.to/31MrHA9

To order a paperback version: https://amzn.to/2MSSiYd