Is Selling a dirty word? – Let’s hope not….. It’s Child’s Play!

Sadly, I often meet people in my business and personal life who take a very dim view of the profession of selling.


Sales is often considered a dirty word (particularly in the UK) – some people are of the opinion that if someone is selling to them, then there is a catch, or they are going to swindle them out of something.  This attitude has become so prevalent that there are many sales professionals that I know who are actually ashamed of their profession – when asked what they do for a living they respond by saying that they are in “marketing” rather than proudly say that they are a ‘Sales Professional’.  Companies will often put the title ‘Consultant’ instead of ‘Sales Executive’ onto business cards as they feel that the very word Sales conjures up an image of a one- way high pressure relationship.


I think that this is not only a shame, but in the majority of cases unjustified – it is typecasting.  Whilst there is no doubt that some high pressure sales pitches are misleading, and are designed to swindle, most are centred around helping  the customer to recognise what they need and then providing them with a means of securing it.   That is not something that is unpleasant, rather, something that is a great service and should deliver smiles all round.


When I ran my Energy Efficiency business I frequently spoke to customers and prospective customers who were suspicious of my motives – The business sold energy efficiency technology – and frequently saved many companies over 80% on their lighting costs by introducing more efficient intelligent luminaires that give a return on investment in 12  – 18 months.  This is a low risk, high return investment that ticks all of the “green” boxes.  We could prove this, we were doing it time and time again, yet still had a number of our potential customers turning our proposals away claiming that they were “too good to be true”.  When we called to ask why they have not taken up the offer we were told that there must be a catch – there wasn’t, all we wanted to do was to help them, a genuine “win win” situation. Sure, we wanted to make a sale, and we were not ashamed of making a profit, but by making this sale we were genuinely helping our Customer to realise their own personal ambitions.   In their paranoia of being “sold” to, a number of Customers were disregarding the potential of the purchase and hence missing a fantastic opportunity.


Sales is life……Everyday we are sold to without even realising it. We are all Sales People and we all “sell” all of the time – selling something is not merely persuading or motivating an individual to do something that you want them to do, but it is often making them recognise what they want, and how they can get it – this does not have to be a commercial transaction, it can be something simple like a household chore, or going down to the local pub for a drink.


Let’s remind ourselves – all you are trying to do when you are selling something is to work though a simple process of successful communication:


  • Stage one – attract the customer’s attention – without this, there is no basis for communication or exchange of ideas.
  • Stage two – get the customer’s interest – this is the only way that the attention will be held long enough for the communication to succeed to a desired conclusion.
  • Stage three – build desire – this is the emotion that will trigger the buying decision – a balance of motivation and confidence.
  • Stage four – get action – sale complete – your customer is taking the action that you (and they) want to


Sales professionals possess skills that ensure that their customers benefit by seeing the communication through to conclusion and making a buying decision that is right for them.


We are all born with these skills, and this can clearly be seen when observing children who are naturally great at this.


As adults – children look up to us, they learn from us.  We feel a sense of responsibility to pass on the benefit of our experience.  We (think we) know what is best for them, and we invariably want to “programme” them in our ways so that they live their life in our “image” and play the game of life to rules that are acceptable to us.  We try to teach them how to “fit in” with our society, and how to “look after themselves”.  We consider that we know best because we have read the book, played the game and got the t-shirt


How often in this “process” do we step back and consider that maybe we can learn from them too.?  Consider this – Young children think freely – unrestricted by rules,   They literally think “outside of the box” simply because when they are very young there is no “box” – or at least not that they are aware of.  With this in mind they do what ever they need to do to get what they want.  All they are interested in is the end result, and because they are learning they will try anything until they get it – this is a social skill that epitomises successful selling in it’s primal guise.


So…..why are kids so good at selling?  Mainly because their focus is on provoking a reaction from their “customer”.  The customer (usually the adult who is with them) is the centre of their world, and the customer’s reaction is their only consideration.  Kids have no preconceived ideas about what they think might work – they actually check it out by trial and error, they keep doing different things until they get the reaction that they want.  They quickly work out that by taking certain actions the customer will react in a specific way – they simply work out what the customer wants, and then they give it to them – in return they get a reward.


What is it that makes them different from us adults?  Most importantly, young children have no ego, or image to uphold.  They do not care about how they are accepted or perceived, they only care about the customer taking the action that they require.  This is why, as they get older and start considering themselves as opposed to the customer, they become less successful in their selling exploits.  Many teenagers lose the art of selling as they worry more about themselves than their customers, and then they get frustrated when they do not get what they want any longer – I know lots of so called sales professionals who act just like teenagers (sound familiar?).


People only do things for one of two reasons – either to gain pleasure, or to avoid pain.  Kids instinctively recognise that if there is no pain or pleasure, then the customer will not take action to avoid it, therefore, they have to provide it!  Hence they smile sweetly, give a kiss or a hug or subconsciously apply reverse psychology and throw a tantrum in a commercial sense, giving the customer pain, or showing the customer the problem is often as simple as bringing it into focus, invariably people are so busy with their other tasks they are not thinking about the problem, and the chances are, they do not recognise how serious it is, therefore they are failing to act on what is often a simple win.


Selling is as simple as ABC – then you think about it……..


A Challenge For You………

Think about how your customers gain pleasure or avoid pain when dealing with your company and using your products.


For More Inspiration

Why not Join our International Trade community at ExportSavvy – It’s sponsored and hence free of charge to you –


David Bone CDir – Managing Director  – ExportSavvy Ltd

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