Selling is Easy – The Myth

Selling is Easy – The Myth
by Brian Jeffrey, CSP
I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being told by
people who have never sold anything in their lives that
selling is easy.
These people seem to think there's very little to selling.
Apparently, all we do is go around all day talking to
people. What could be simpler?
The Gift of Gab
I always mentally cringe when someone tells me they
feel they should be in sales because they really like
talking to people. While the gift of gab is certainly
helpful, it's a salesperson's superior listening skills that
really make the difference. That, and an ability to get in
front of as many prospects as possible in any given
If selling is so easy, why isn't everyone doing it… or at
least doing it well? It's been said that selling is the
hardest high-paying job in the world and the easiest
low-paying one. To that point, while commission
salespeople are the highest paid people in North
America, the average sales income is much less than
$20,000. What's wrong with this picture?
Everybody Sells
Every now and again, I run across people who delight
in telling me that "Everyone sells, even if it's just
ideas." After I agree with them, I ask if they've ever had
to make their living by selling - where if they didn't sell,
they didn't eat? Well "that's different" of course!
It's different all right. It's as different as being a
spectator at the Indy 500 versus being one of the
drivers. What could possibly be hard about driving a
racing car? All you have to do is step on the
accelerator and steer! Yeah, sure!
Whether you're a salesperson or a racecar driver, it
takes skill, drive, dedication, and determination in order
to succeed. It's easy to discount all that when you're
just sitting in the stands.
I'll be one of the first people to admit that selling looks
easy. In fact, most jobs, when done by a skilled
practitioner, look easy. There's a tendency to discount
the many hours of training, blood, sweat, and tears that
are involved in becoming proficient at any occupation
including selling.
Emotional Roller Coaster
Another thing people who aren't in sales never see is
the emotional roller coaster that many salespeople ride
day after day. We probably go up and down more
times in a day than the average person does in a
week. I mean, if you have a 30 percent closing ratio,
which is reasonably respectable by the way, it means
that you get approximately two to three "Nos" for every
"Yes." Who wants to go around getting rejected all day
long? Well, want to or not, that's what happens to most
of us in sales. We're in a business of failure!
Born Salesperson
The "born salesperson" is another of the myths that
plagues our profession. A lot of people seem to feel
that salespeople are born, not made. Well I certainly
haven't read any birth announcements for an 8 lb. 7 oz.
sales baby lately. How about you? Not too likely, right?
There's no doubt in my mind that some people are
better suited for sales than others, but I don't believe in
the concept of the "born salesperson." My research
has identified 18 different types of sales temperaments
or selling styles. Not all these styles are well suited to
every type of selling environment, and in fact two
shouldn't really be in sales at all. It's easy to have a
mismatch between the individual and the job. I call this
trying to put a square peg into a round hole. You can
do it but there's usually some damage to both the peg
and the hole.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Yet another selling myth is that if you can sell one thing
you can sell another. It's sort of a one-size-fits-all
universal salesperson concept. It would be nice if this
were true. All we'd need to do is train a person to sell
and then they could sell anything and everything to
anybody and everybody.
There is a certain amount of truth in the concept of the
universal salesperson in that if someone truly
understands how to sell professionally, they can
probably sell anything if they want to. Just as the basic
laws of aerodynamics apply to a light plane like a
Cessna 150 as well as its big (huge) brother the
Boeing 767, the basic laws of selling apply to products
and services, tangibles and intangibles, big and small
What differs is the selling environment. The person
who enjoys the relative safety of the retail sales
environment where customers come to them, may not
be comfortable going out to visit customers, or worse,
having to make cold calls to drum up business.
Similarly, the "hunter" type salesperson who enjoys the
thrill of the chase can get bored in a sales environment
where he is expected to provide long-term care and
feeding of the customer. Finding new customers is his
specialty; it's not providing customer service.
Improving the Odds
When a person who has a natural talent for selling, and
is already very good at it, takes sales training,
something interesting happens. He or she becomes
even more skilled and has more control over the selling
process. Before the training the person tends to do
things more by instinct than on purpose. After the
training it's the reverse. They start doing things on
purpose rather than operating solely by instinct. This
doesn't mean they get every sale, but it sure improves
their odds.
If outsiders really want to find out how easy selling is,
let them walk in our shoes for a few months. It might
change their perception. Unfortunately, this isn't likely
to happen.
So, the next time some non-salesperson tells you that
selling is easy or that you have a soft job, simply smile
and nod in agreement. You know the real truth and
that's what really matters. That's what it means to be a
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