When I was a senior in college, my thoughts about salespeople altered radically. At that time, my definition of a person in sales was probably similar to many of yours:

Salesperson (n) homemade defn: a person who tries to convince others to purchase goods or services that have little to no value – for the most amount of money – in order to profit off their fellow man.

Yet there I was in marketing class listening to Colin, our veteran salesman guest speaker (who I arranged to speak to the class in order to get out of writing a paper) and his definition of a salesperson; the presentation was remarkable. He stated, “we are problem solvers and dream fulfillers.” Colin went on to explain his reasoning, and all the reasons he loved his profession. At that moment I decided, as a 21 year old business student at a D3 school in Wisconsin, I didn’t know everything on this topic and needed to consider this other view point.

Now at 48, looking back on a career in sales, recruiting, technology delivery, consulting, and management with titles ranging from Programmer/Analyst to CEO, I realize that lesson in marketing class was one of the most powerful I have ever learned. By adopting Colin’s definition very early, it has made every aspect of business much easier over the last 25 years.

Here is what every salesperson should ask themselves

  1. Do you believe in your product or service?
  2. Do you believe your product or service will make the prospect’s life better? Or do you at least believe this person’s life will be better by meeting and speaking with you?
  3. Do you believe you will not waste this person’s time?  Will some value be transferred?  (At the very least a friendship might be started which is beneficial)

This should be every salesperson’s mindset when entering a sales meeting

  1. In this meeting, I will sell NOTHING (remember my first definition of a salesperson). This meeting will be a transfer of ideas and value will be produced.
  2. If this person works with me, I will NOT let them down.
  3. This person will appreciate me and my product/service, and both our lives will be better since we now know one another. I once had a prospect tell me after our initial meeting “I am glad I met you as I am afraid to not know what is all going on out there.” That is my goal.

As the blog title states, I never feel like I “sell” anything to anyone, yet I somehow have generated millions throughout my career. The secret is adopting Colin’s definition early, as well as viewing all sales meetings as nothing more than relationship development so the people involved can mutually benefit. It is all about relationships.

There are lots of well written books on professional selling and here are my top three over the years for various reasons:

  1. Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing by Harry Beckwith
  2. The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource by Jeffrey Gitomer
  3. From Vendor to Business Resource: Transforming the Sales Force for the New Era of Selling by Jerry Stapleton

Footnote:  Two years after that day in college, Colin’s daughter became my wife – sales again, two lives mutually benefitting!  

Thanks for reading!