I never had a bad opinion of selling. I grew up with a mother who sold shoes for over 50 years so selling to me was something good and honorable. It allowed you to help others while also earning money. And, when I realized that your income was dependent upon how much you sold and not on how much an hour someone wanted to pay me, I was even more sold on selling. Selling may or may not be the oldest profession but it is certainly one of the oldest that still exists today.
Josiah Wedgewood, of the Wedgewood China family, came up with ideas to sell more of their expensive Wedgewood China in the mid-1700’s. And, while he is credited with being a genius marketer, I believe he looked upon selling as an intellectual pleasure and an art form. He was selling.
“Nothing happens in business until someone sells something.” Supposedly that statement appeared in Parade Magazine in 1930 and was coined by Arthur “Red” Motley. And, until after WWII most corporations lived and died by that motto. But, post WWII, marketing and advertising became part of the business school regimen and sales became something you did if you couldn’t get into business school. People turned up their nose at selling and hundreds of thousands of college graduates became marketers. Well, that’s what they majored in but most of them found employment in other areas that had nothing to do with marketing. A lucky few tried sales and learned that’s where the action and the financial rewards are in marketing.
Many small business owners have either lost sight of or never understood the paramount importance of selling. They fixate on marketing and I find that most often it is because they themselves never learned how to sell. They don’t know how to do it themselves and they find it extremely difficult to manage the best salespeople who most often are independent. Most exceptional salespeople will follow a good leader but bristle at being “managed.”
Selling still creates businesses, wealth, and jobs. Without salespeople and selling you would not have a job. And, if you’re reading this and you don’t have a job, may I suggest you set your sights on a position in sales, read all the books you can by the masters in the field, and start by selling yourself to someone who will give you an opportunity to prove yourself as a salesperson. If you will do that, you be on your way in a career that will always provide you with an income and sense of accomplishment no matter what is going on in the economy.
Technology and the use of social media have made selling easier than ever. You can find out more about your prospects in seconds that would take me a day in the library only 25 years ago. But don’t rely on technology to replace personal, face-to-face, selling. Use technology to augment and enhance selling but always remember you still have to ask your prospects the right questions and listen to the answers.
I went from being a professional photographer to setting sales records for a Fortune 100 company and I did it in one year. And, I continued to do it year-after-year-after-year. There’s an old saying in professional photography. It goes like this.
Question: Do you know how to make a small fortune in professional photography?
Answer: Start with a large one.
Photographers are not usually known for their sales skills. If a photographer (me) can do it, you can do it too.
Today is my birthday. Thank you for letting me share it with you. My birthday wish for you is that you are as fortunate as Josiah Wedgewood and myself and that you are able to spend your working hours engaged in something that is both an intellectual pleasure and your you own form of art. Thank you for listening.