I went with several colleagues to listen to Dan Pink at the Virginia Festival of the Book Leadership Breakfast this morning. Dan’s new book (we’re fellow authors — I can call him Dan, right?) is To Sell is Human. The point of the book, and Dan’s talk, was that we’re all in the business of selling, persuading others to provide us with something they value in exchange for our products, services, or intelligence. People have such a negative reaction to the term “sales.” I tend not to think of myself as a salesperson and even shy away from thinking about anything I do in terms of sales. But of course, it is. I own a business; we provide services for which we are compensated. If it didn’t work that way, the business wouldn’t exist.
Dan shared a lot of data from his research on our thoughts, as a country, about sales. One part of that research focused on whether people who were extroverts were better salespeople, or if the introverts boasted better numbers. We tend to think that it’s the outgoing, gregarious (perhaps even backslapping, glad-handing, aggressive, pushy) person who gets the sales. Some of us want to think introverts do it better; they listen, and therefore provide better solutions. Naturally, the best sales people, and most of us, in fact, fall somewhere in the middle. The extremes do poorly. The balanced excel.
The big takeaway for me was Dan encouraging people in the audience to “be more like yourself.” Once again, authenticity wins.
Are you in sales, or have sales in your job description? How do you feel about it? Is it a difficult or easy part of your job, and how do you think you do?