Are you a salesperson? “Of course not. I am an accountant (or something else).” That’s the common internal story of most professionals. You may not realise that you are always a salesperson irrespective of your job description.
Sales is the process of communicating the value of something. Without the ability to convey value, no employee or professional can communicate adequately at work. Let’s see when and how you need to gain expertise in the art of selling in your career.
- Already always selling
First recognise that you are selling all the time. In your personal life, whether it is getting kids to study, preparing a budget with your family, planning an evening out with friends or initiating and building relationships—you are constantly sustaining a positive impression of yourself.
You are communicating the merits of your ideas, expanding your sphere of influence, furthering your interests by enrolling others to your point of view and negotiating through disagreements. Each of these interactions is reflected in equal measure on the professional front. Thus, you are already, always selling. Get better at it to succeed both personally and professionally.
- Get in the list
Your resume is your written sales pitch aimed at getting you shortlisted for an interview to a job you want. It is not an administrative document or a universally standardised record of your work history. How will you present it?
A lack of effort in your CV will make it look like an insipid classified advertisement whereas a professional attractive sales presentation through your resume will do justice to the product that is you. Frame and present your achievements in a manner that matches the employer’s requirements.
- Get a new job offer
Once you are shortlisted, you will sell yourself verbally through the interview and selection process to land the offer letter for a new job. This requires you to rehearse on expected questions relating to your experience, skills and fit for the role.
How you structure your responses, highlight your abilities and career milestones and promise on future deliverables will help close the sale. It will convince the interviewer that you meet expectations and the investment in your increased salary is justified.
- Create chance opportunities
As part of your job, every year you will meet or communicate with hundreds of professionals for the first time. As a good salesperson, always keep an elevator pitch ready in the form of a 30-second introduction on what you do or how you add value to your firm or industry.
The more compelling your pitch, the deeper and more lasting its impact. Some of these professionals will be influenced enough to remember you, meet you again, discuss their challenges and seek solutions through you thus creating a larger professional network and new chance opportunities for career growth.
- Organisation grease
Feedback on progress or tasks completed is what keeps the wheels of an organisation running. One person’s output or data is another person’s inputs while information on deadlines and progress helps your firm take timely and correct decisions.
Though giving regular updates on your project to your manager is an essential part of your work routine, it is also a recurring opportunity for you to sell yourself and communicate the value you are delivering. Frame your update in the context of the current business situation and against established acceptable benchmarks. For example, sales for my region in July have grown by 10%, which is double that of last July though overall market has shrunk by 3% this year.
- Achieve goals
Every task that you work on has a target, deadline and multiple dependencies. From negotiating with your boss for a reasonable target and deadline to acquiring resources and the support of your team mates to achieve personal and team goals, you will need to communicate actively to convince others and align their interests with yours to succeed.
Keeping your word, empathy, sharing information and supporting others are part of your sales tool kit to survive and succeed on a regular basis. Your sales skills will also be critical to bounce back from adversity and deliver best-case results after a failed outcome.
- Power your growth
No career trajectory follows a pre-defined path of steady growth. Your career will be made of plateaus where you continue in the same role gaining incremental mastery and sudden step jumps when you get a promotion or significantly higher or different responsibilities—each of which leads to increased learning opportunities. How do you increase the number and size of the step jumps in your career?
Know that the person who is promoted is not necessarily the most qualified but the person who is perceived to be an out-performer on account of how he has positioned himself, his regular achievements and his contributions to the team and organisation. Improve on your ability to position and sell yourself continuously to give your career the chance it deserves.
Leadership equals sales mastery
1. All about people
According to author Gurcharan Das, legendary British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used to say that she spent 20% of her time doing reforms and 80% time selling them. Likewise, as a leader, your work is always with people where outcomes will not be attained until you establish and sell your credibility and trust.
2. Common dream
You must be able to convey your ideas to your team in a manner that excites and resonates with them. Once you get people to share in a common dream or vision, you have a good shot at execution. Thus, you are the primary storyteller for your followers and your ability to sell ideas attracts and retains the team.
3. Business of change
As a leader, you are in the business of change. To make any meaningful impact you will be changing the status quo of the situation and how people respond and act. To propel them to action and to achieve results, your sales process includes changing their attitude and behaviour through information, personality, logic and emotions.
4. Call to action
As a leader, your primary leverage is your ability to enrol people into your cause or project. Having changed their attitude, you now ask for support through new actions you want them to take within the context of the shared vision. Thus, you begin to add tangible value when you sell the call to action and commence execution.
5. Mastering agreement
Until the objective is achieved, the team will be pulled apart by conflicting internal interests, varying interpretations of the dream and different ideas on the path to follow. Your sales skills will be called to the fore to reconcile benefi ts amongst team members and negotiating agreements to bypass these hurdles.