Everyone is in sales

Do you consider yourself a sales person? If not, you may want to reconsider. Sales is no longer just a profession. It has become a crucial part of everyone’s jobs (and lives). Just like a virus, sales was once contained to a profession and a department but it’s now infected just about everyone (yet a lot of people don’t know they have the bug).

In his latest book To Sell is Human, Dan Pink reveals some insightful research into the new reality of sales in people’s work lives. His findings suggests that, whilst 1 in 9 people are actually in the profession of sales, just about everyone else are involved in what he calls “non-sales selling”. He defines sales as influencing others to exchange their resources for something that we have to offer. The exchange of resources can be monetary (as with traditional sales) or non monetary (like doing the dishes to earn some brownie points).
Dan’s “What People Do At Work” survey revealed two interesting findings. Firstly, sales is a big part of everyone’s work lives. People are spending around 40% of their time either selling or non-sales selling. Secondly, sales and non-sales selling is critical to people’s professional success. If you can’t influence others to exchange what they have for what you have, then the project or task you are engaged in will fail.
So how do you improve your non-sales selling skills? I think it can be boiled down to three key activities:
1. Understanding the problem
This involves getting a deep understanding of the agendas of everyone involved in the exchange and what’s important to them. To get what you want, you must first find out what they want.

2. Creating a win-win solution
You need to demonstrate how they will benefit from the exchange. They need to see that they will be better off by exchanging what they have with what you have.

3. Agreeing on the next steps

This is simply asking for what you want and coming to an agreement on what happens next. It’s a bit like the closing phase in traditional selling. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

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