The Romance of Salesmanship – part one


Have you ever had this feeling?

That intense excitement of potential adventure, achievement, or fortune, when your imagination is consumed by thoughts of what pleasure the future might hold?

When your mind, body, emotions and sensations are alive with this extreme anticipation?

That sublime feeling of being completely in the moment, doing something that you love?

Anyone at the top of their game, who loves challenge, risk, and the stimulation from effortlessly accomplishing things that would inspire awe in the ordinary person, know this feeling.

The knowledge of a job well done, the admiration of peers, the silent recognition of being able to perform at your best under pressure.

All these and more represent an important part the pay for mastering the skills of a craft or an art form, but to the professional salesperson, this exemplifies the romance of salesmanship.

Part One

If only it were true.

Just get a job, no matter what it is. Go to work, put in your time suppressing your feelings of distaste and dissatisfaction. Make some money, work more, make more money, work harder and make even more money – now just continue this pattern and happiness can’t be too far ahead, right?

Ah, if only it did work that way.

In reality, happiness is what occurs along the way as you are working on your true purposes, overcoming obstacles and barriers as they come up along the way. Happiness is not static thing like a can of tuna that you pick up at the local market.

It’s more like quicksilver: the more you try to hold on to it, the more fleeting and transient it seems. Often it appears as a side benefit when you’re hard at work on something else that you enjoy.

Mostly it shows up when you’re least expecting it. It happens in your day to day interaction with co-workers and vendors, when you figure out how to handle a situation with an upset client, when you work out how to give the customer a little better service and more results than they expected, or when you’ve finally bring in that big contract you’ve been working on and sweating over for months.

It’s easy to put up with unexpected surprises, changes, setbacks and challenges if you’re working on a purpose that is important to you and one that you are passionate about. But, if you are stuck with a job you dislike, because of that ubiquitous economic whip, seemingly unavoidable in our present culture – your job and your life can be pure drudgery at it’s best, and a subtle form of slavery at it’s worst.

Now, as we spend an inordinately large number of our waking hours focused on the never-ending pursuit of the buck, not to mention that elusive thing called happiness, why not try to accomplish both at the same time? For many, the pursuit of a career in sales provides just such an opportunity.

The Sales Profession
Sales is a unique profession, you either love it or you hate it – there is no middle ground.

And if you don’t love it, you should look at the possibility of leaving it as soon as possible. You can’t go along being a moderate plugging success, putting in mindless hours on the job, and expect any measure of happiness in your life.

Salesmanship and the profession of selling require more patience, stamina, presence of mind, fearlessness, courage, composure, self-confidence and above all, persistence than almost any other human activity.

You’ll also find it can be the hardest low-paying job you’ve ever held – or it can be the easiest high-paying job you’d ever wish for. And all the while, you are given the opportunity to help people achieve their purposes, while at the same time succeeding in your own. You can, have your cake and eat it too.

It’s a wonderfully venturesome occupation full of challenge, risk and reward. For when you’re dealing with the whims and vagaries of human beings on the subject of the exchange of money anything can and often does happen.

For those who are passionate about sales and approach it as a professional, the payoff can be tremendous; it really can be romantic for the right person.

Instant Professionalism
All too many new salesmen assume they are a “professional” only because their new business card says so.

These individuals jump into sales profession believing the pitch of fast, easy money. But, the lure of the easy money will be found lacking if you’re just working in sales because you couldn’t find anything else.

As a career, sales demands the dedication and commitment to excellence required of any top professional, and at the same time will instantly expose any weaknesses you may have in your skills or flaws in your character – certainly not for the faint of heart.

Also, you’ll find as you become engaged actively in the field and begin to work to improve your proficiency, that you begin to see how your expertise could be improved even further. The more you improve, the more you see how things could be made even better.

The profession requires continual attention and refinement of your techniques and abilities. You can’t just put it on automatic and expect to succeed. You must be constantly alert to identifying and eliminating negative habits or attitudes that will ultimately cause your downfall.

A professional salesperson is actively involved – and just a passive observer. He may be active, quiet, introverted or extroverted but always willing to communicate. This can include individuals who might be seen as overbearing at times, but better to be so than to be so meek as to never make an impression and just hang around the sidelines unnoticed.

The salesman must be overt and extroverted in his actions and communication – to do otherwise is to reduce the position to that of an order-taker, where the best they can do is to ask, “Would you like fries with that sir?” Not the level of professionalism we’re looking for.

Yes, of course, you have to actively listen as much or more than you talk. The Pareto Principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes, or in other words, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.

It could be argued that you are likely to be more effective if you listen 80% of the time, and talk 20% of the time. But sometimes customers don’t like to talk and they want you to do the talking. Well, OK, sometimes you have to just go ahead and lay it out for them and show your stuff.

But just remember that the professional inevitably finds out about the customer at some point by getting them to talk about themselves and what is causing them discomfort or pain. Unless you stop talking long enough to find out about them, their hot buttons, problems and concerns, you will have used all your ammunition and be left standing there empty-handed. They’ll know all about you – but you know nothing about them. Who’s in the driver’s seat then?

The pro knows when to talk and when to shut up. Acquiring that skill is essential to make it to the big leagues. Without it you will always remain in the minors.

There is no course or class in “instant sales professionalism” that you can enroll in, just as there is no such thing as an “instant professional” in any field. It requires persistence, dedication, intelligence, skill and a bit of that “magic dust” that can’t really be taught, but can only be earned and learned over time with proper experience. Looking for the instantaneous, quick fix to anything often ends up creating more problems than it solves.

Master one thing at a time and you can master anything, for excellence is built on a mastery of the fundamentals.

If you find yourself embarked upon this journey, approach it as a professional, and you’ll soon bring it up to the level necessary for success. And I think you’ll find it is worth the trip in terms of self-esteem, certainty, confidence, personal competence – and of course, money.

A professional in any field, especially in sales, is one who can see how something should be and actively moves things toward that end, while creating a vision for the future that customers find inviting, interesting and compelling enough to pursue.

You are dealing in the realm of bringing about desirable changes in individuals and groups. In this manner, you find ways to help others turn their dreams into reality.

You are helping the prospect change an undesirable past with a new approach or product and helping them to see possibilities for future success with a new service, technology or business model that you are presenting to them.

No matter what you are selling, never forget that you are in a service business. You’re in the people business.

You win when the customer wins. And you’re running on the inside track as the more service you can provide to the client, the more likely they are to provide what you need in return and happily tell others about it too!

The Romance of Salesmanship
Salesmanship can indeed be romantic – involving a spirit or feeling of adventure, excitement, the potential for great achievement, and a sense of deep personal satisfaction.

In any selling situation, the necessity of personal interaction is always adventuresome, will keep you on your toes and test your abilities constantly.

This profession can be romantic if only for the following reasons:

Finding a way to help people is always challenging and as intensely exciting as any other romantic activity.

The adventure of new places and people and co-action with others in accomplishing mutual goals can be a powerful motivator.

The potential for heroic achievement for yourself, your group and the customer is often so thoroughly engaging, intensely interesting, profoundly fascinating and completely absorbing that it is nearly addictive.

The feeling of enthusiasm and excitement that comes from active involvement and success in this field can rarely be equaled.

The proud sense of accomplishment that results from mastering thing, from which others shrink, is the best feeling in the world.

For the individual searching for this kind of life – the romance of salesmanship awaits!

daniel w. jacobs
(c) 2002-2020, all rights reserved


One Response to “The Romance of Salesmanship – part one”

  1. what a great site and informative posts, I will bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

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