Should you learn how to sell? And if so, when?
Well, let me ask you this:
Do you like the idea of being automated out of that job you have?
Does the thought of staying at pretty much the same income level year after year appeal to you?
If you're a business owner but aren't yet convinced that sales is part of 'what you do', are you enjoying the monthly rollercoaster of ups and downs in revenue?
Here's the unvarnished truth:
Now is the best time to learn how to sell. Right now.
1. It's going to take you awhile.
Selling is a skill. Just like riding a bike, cooking, painting or fencing...there are things you're going to have to learn and practice. Your commitment is required.
Start now, so that in a few months you'll be well on your way to competency. You'll see why this is important in a moment.
2. Many jobs are getting replaced by automation, or downsized out.
If you want to remain at the mercy of someone else and events outside your control, by all means ignore learning sales skills and keep doing what you're doing.
Anything that can be done by fewer people, or a machine, or outsourced to a country with a cheaper labor pool, is at risk of being instantly taken away. The whole concept of work is changing. And having a college degree does not matter.
But sales roles...
3. Skilled salespeople are rare.
Yes, there are loads of people who put on a sales department nametag and head on out--but few, very few, are actually competent. Sales is the only field I can think of that you can be sent out into the front lines without any training. And product training does not count. If you want to learn how to sell, you must begin with a consistent sales process.
Salespeople create massive value. Anyone who can get $2X for something that costs $X will always have a place in an organization.
Selling won't disappear. Able salespeople will always be in demand. And it's simple economics: when supply is low and demand is high, the price (your earnings) go up. So invest in yourself now, and reap the rewards for the rest of your life.
4. Learning to sell will make you a better person and communicator.
If you learn how to sell with a consistent sales process, you will become a more precise communicator. The things you say will have purpose. Take the simple act of asking, "Is this a bad time to talk?" When I call a family member this is the first thing I ask. How do I know what they were doing right before I called? Maybe one of my sisters-in-law is having a meltdown. Checking first is a polite thing to do.
Also, from a personal perspective, I know that learning to sell has made me a stronger person. Since I am looking for best fit rather than a sale right now, I only work with people who will treat me well. This takes away the fawningness that many people associate with selling--as if the salesperson has to become your best friend to get the order. Instead, I am checking for potential problems.
"Easy for You to Learn How to Sell, But for Me...?"
Sometimes I hear people say, "Well, it's easy for you." It wasn't. As a teenager I was nervous. I always wondered what other people were thinking. Getting on the phone was difficult until I got into my mid-20s. And even then, it took about six months as a credit manager making calls until I started getting comfortable with it.
If I can do it, so can you: but the point is, learning how to sell is a transformational process. If you commit to it, learning the skills will make you better.
Sales skills are going to become diamond-value assets in the next several decades. Fewer and fewer people are going to have them. Everyone wants to stay hidden behind a computer or away from the front lines. But for those who want to commit, and transform themselves with these skills, the rewards will be tremendous. Not to mention the stability. When you can pull money from the walls whenever you need it, you can truly write your own ticket.
The time to learn how to sell is NOW.
2022 Update About How You Can Learn How To Sell
The original post was written in 2014 and like many things in sales nothing has changed in the meantime. Despite AI copywriting software and "done for you" sales teams, it's still the best time for you to learn how to sell for yourself.
The first thing to do is find out about different styles of selling, and determine which feels right for you. Hopkins traditional style selling, consultative selling, and Challenger selling are just three examples. Then commit to learning the process and techniques of the individual approach you feel is best for you. Soon you'll be applying a consistent sales process, and knowing why you got some orders and not others.
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