What is Sales?

Sales is the initiation of an exchange of value

When a person offers something of (supposed) value to another person, and proposes an exchange, typically but not always suggesting a price, then the initiator of the transaction can be considered a sales person. The process is called a sale. The buyer person is not technically a sales person because he or she did not initiate the transaction. Even if the buyer sought out and contacted the sales person first, the sales person is such simply because he publicly has wares to sell.

The item offered by the seller can exist as some tangible (physical) product or an intangible (nonphysical) service. The price, or value the buyer is expected to pay or exchange can similarly be tangible or intangible. Our money is a medium of exchange. It facilitates transactions by providing a recognizable and accepted currency. Money may or may not exist in any physical form but is always intangible in that in itself usually has no value (except for precious metal coinage that is rare having been phased out for useless tin). Money is just the promise of payment, in that it is redeemable for other items of perceived value. Money is based on this collective delusion of value and the belief that money is somehow real and thus valuable.

By the above definition, anybody that offers labor or has a garage sale is a salesperson. For the most part this is the level of the not-so-called profession of sales. Anybody with a pulse can land somewhere, even if only behind the counter of a convenience store. If you don’t have a pulse and are still animated you can rise quickly to the top and get rich as a curiosity and performer. If not animated, you can be mummified and dressed like a mannequin. You will blend in nicely on the sales floor.

If an employer, called such in that they are buyers of labor, officially provides you with a job selling, you magically progress from mere mortal to the status of sales person. If self-employed, you are in the confused purgatory or being both buyer and seller at the same time. If your business card says sales person, or any of the countless aliases and euphemisms, then that’s what you are (I guess).

Most sales jobs measure training in minutes per year (this is a phone, this is a phone book, start dialing). Sales people, being as clueless about how sales works as a newborn is about calculus, rely on conjecture and hearsay. They watch those around them desperately for some clue of what to do to. They understand that their goal is a sale, which as far as they can see involves trying to talk a prospect into buying. They quickly learn that anything short of an investigation by the FBI is OK, especially if you don’t get caught. If you get a sale you are deemed worthy. If not, you are scum. Worse than scum since scum can likely be sold by a true closer.

The idea of getting people to buy as the goal in sales is the proverbial root of all evil in sales. The only way to counteract this is to adopt another different archetypal idea…. which is to serve. Here the objectives are to listen to a person (called a prospect, as in prospective buyer), learn their situation and needs, apply your expertise, creativity, and skill to devise viable solutions, help the prospect decide on the best course of action (always letting them make the final decision since only they live with the consequences, and encourage them to act in a timely manner in their own self-interest.

It should be obvious that this is not happening very often. Why? Sales people, like all people, tend to act in their self-interest first and foremost. This means getting a sale fast anyway possible, getting paid, and thus earning a living. Professionals are called on to act in others self-interests even when it means putting yourself in harms way. Think firefighter, police officer, nurse… Sales people need to learn to be people first, and sales people second. Acting like a human being will take you farther than acting like a con artist. Well maybe not but you won’t have to live your life looking over your shoulder.