What is sales?

by Whitney Sales

Let’s redefine the skewed perception of sales.

Everyone does it, no one talks about it. Sometimes you don’t even know when you’re doing it. I’ll let the cat out of the bag: If you’re doing business, you are in the business of selling!

Repeat after me. Everything is a Sale. This will be our new mantra as we redefine what ‘sales’ actually is. The concept of selling is simple: if you follow any interaction from start to finish, you are selling or being sold on something. Don’t take this negatively; eschew any fears of Alec Baldwin’s PTSD-inspiring speech from Glengarry Glen Ross. I’m talking about viewing each interaction as a possibility to connect around something mutually beneficial. The goal is to know that selling and being sold are about creating a partnership. This partnership has three parts: Knowing what you have to offer; knowing what the other party has to offer; and the wants and needs that are driving the exchange. Essentially, why you are doing business together.

Sales are usually thought of as monetary exchanges, where a salesperson is selling a product to a buyer for money. At the surface that’s exactly what is happening, but let’s break this down a bit more. Selling is an exchange of one ‘product’ offering for another. If you look at it this way, selling is applicable to all types of exchanges — — think abstract concepts like time, attention, loyalty, and the promise of future action as product offerings.

Take job interviews, for example. Most of us think of an interview as heavily in favor of the interviewer, the party doing the hiring or ‘buying’ of a product AKA you. But, the fact is, there are two sides to this sale and both parties are selling something. You’re selling yourself for the job you want, but the recruiter also needs to fill the position, so the job is their product they’re selling in exchange for your employment. Realizing that interviews are as much about you buying the job as selling yourself as an attractive candidate levels the playing field, to an equal exchange.

The secret to positive and beneficial exchanges or ‘sales’ is to identify the ‘products’ each party is selling and refocus the interaction as an exchange between two buyers, instead of a buyer and a seller. The key takeaway is that both parties have something to offer, even in situations that seem unequal. Establishing what’s being offered, and what each party wants from the exchange creates an atmosphere of mutual respect where no one loses out. There is a sale happening in every exchange. The question is, what are you selling?


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