If I had a dollar for every time I said or heard the phrase “I hate sales,” I would be a very rich woman. I have said it myself. I have heard my clients say it. I think it stems from years and years of a sales attitude based on the salesperson serving themself. The salesperson is looking for a commission or needing to reach a quota to keep their job. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the midst of the Gordon Grecco greed it good generation but sales to me equaled trying to get someone to do something to benefit me. Luckily, that attitude is changing.
While I was in graduate school, a new concept in sales was beginning to be introduced. What’s In It For Me, or WIIFM, changed the focus from the salesman’s quota to the needs of the purchaser. Institutions and corporations were telling their sales force to focus on the needs of their clients versus the company’s need to move a specific product. I worked at many companies who focused on trying to move a certain widget even if no one had a need or desire for that widget. Now companies were partnering with their customers to uncover their needs and create new products to serve those needs. It was a good step in the right direction.
As I branched out into the world of networking, I found so many individuals that I labeled as card pushers. These were the people who spoke only of themselves and what they were selling. There was no desire to meet and truly get to know each other. There was only the desire to find someone ready to purchase. But I noticed a movement in the networking world too. There emerged individuals who practice give to get. This is the idea that if I scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine. Some individuals believe that it is reciprocal between two people. If I help you, you help me. There are others who push the concept out to a knowing that if I help you, in some way the good will come back to me. It may come directly from you or it may come from someone else. This new attitude began to break down hardened thoughts about how businesses had to act to be successful.
What I am most excited about is a burgeoning new trend. I dub this trend, I Am Here to Serve. It is no longer about my needs; it is no longer about serving a company; it is no longer primarily about the business itself. There are individuals popping up in every industry who feel a call to serve others. The focus is solely on the gift they were given and trying to find the best way to share that gift. Yes, they are still a business and need income to continue to practice, but the initial driver is on a desire to give, to serve, to help others, and to make the world a better place. As I work with many healers, nutritionists, Reiki practitioners, acupuncturists and the like I see it clearly in these services businesses. But I am thrilled to report is that I am seeing it in tradition product businesses as well.
If you find yourself disgusted and repulsed by the old school sales mentality, why not look at it anew? Look at your product or service and ask yourself, “How many people can I serve today?” It will give you incentive to be out there and it will also draw those you are meant to help to you.
This post was inspired by a recent lunch date with Robert Terson, author of Selling Fearlessly.