My daughter sat down with me several years ago and wanted to talk about the future. “What should I be when I grow up?”
I said, “You can be whatever you want to be. You could be a doctor, lawyer or even an Indian Chief.
She laughed and said “Dad, I’m serious.”
“Sweetheart, all I want is for you to be happy.”
“I want to be happy,too, but my friend Susan wants to be a dentist. She has her career path all planned out.”
So I asked my daughter to describe her ideal job.
“Something where I work with people. A job where I can make a difference. Something where I can be happy, but still make a lot of money”.
I said, “What about sales?”
“Dad, I don’t want to sell things. Sales doesn’t seem like a very noble profession to me. Talking people into buying things that they may not even need, seems a little shady.”
I thought for a moment and replied, “What if I told you that every profession and every job has one thing in common? Every job is a sales job, and I can prove it.”A great example is teaching, perhaps the most noble profession of all. The future of our country and the world are in the hands of our children and our children are in the hands of our teachers. Often times in this economy both parents must work full time to make ends meet. This results in our children spending more time with their teachers than their parents. Because of this, it is our teachers who shape the way our children see the world.
I was a teacher once and it was the best job I ever had. I taught 9th grade Science to kids who were not interested in facts as mundane as the age of the Grand Canyon. Although my lesson plans were fact filled, the students found them to be stale and boring. In my second year I came to a great realization, I had to sell Science to them. I needed to make it interesting and exciting because I was in competition for their attention. I became a seller of knowledge. Once I realized that, my classes became fun for the students and for me as well. The key was selling, selling them the magic of Science.
We come in contact with “salesmen” every day. Your doctor sells you on the belief medication he prescribes will cure your ills. Your mechanic sells you a tune up that will save you money on fuel. Your dentist sells you teeth whitening that will improve your smile. The teller at the bank sells you their credit card, proclaiming it is better than the card offered by the bank next door. And so on and so on. I can’t think of a profession that doesn’t at some level involve the presenting of an idea. That is sales. Sales is when you convince someone, including yourself, to do something. So don’t fool yourself. Everybody is selling something!Opportunities to sell happen every day. I remember an interesting opportunity shortly after getting married. Debby worked for a very prestigious Dallas real estate firm. The female agents never went anywhere without their clothes perfect, their nails painted, and their hair combed just so. They were the epitome of sophistication and grace.Then came the softball tournament. A variety of companies organized teams to raise money for a local charity. Debby talked the realtors into signing up to represent their company and their profession. It was a typical summer day in Dallas, Texas. As my grandfather used to say “100 degrees in the shade.” The ladies looked great. Outfits were color coordinated and varied from walking shorts to Capri pants, worn over panty hose of course.After two innings I could see their makeup beginning to melt and mascara ring their eyes. Then, in the third inning, it happened. A line drive straight at my third baseman. There was no time to react. The ball hit her just below the right eye where the skin is the thinnest and the check bone creates a hard under surface. She put her hands up to her face and bowed her head. When she looked up, there was blood everywhere. I called time out and rushed to the field. Both teams were speechless as they watched me help her back to the dugout. My pitcher broke the silence, “Coach, you didn’t tell us we could get hurt!” It was true, I had never mentioned the risk.
Finally, the game ended and the ladies headed toward their cars, hot, sweaty, and dirtier than they’d ever been. I stopped them, “Ladies, great game. You won!”
My team captain grinned, “Yay! Now it’s time to go soak in a hot bath.”
I smiled and said, “That sounds great, but since we won, you have another game in one hour.” They were in shock. I guess I hadn’t explained what single elimination meant. You play till you lose.
It was a day I will always remember. We won the next game and the one after that. Midway through the championship game I could see they were totally exhausted, but somehow they played even harder than before. As I walked through the dugout offering water, my shortstop said, “I don’t need a drink. Just pour it on my head!” So I did as asked. SPLASH.I wish I could tell you we won the tournament, but I can’t. We lost by one lousy run. I coached sports for many years after that, but have never been as proud of my team as I was that day. That team was a perfect example of courage and grace under fire.
Long story, I know, but the point is that day I was not just a coach, I was a salesman. I sold them the idea they could play through the heat, the pain, and sometimes the fear. I painted the dream and made them want it as much as I did. If that’s not sales, I don’t know what is.
Now that you realize all jobs are really sales jobs, it is time to improve your selling skills so you can be successful at any job. There is only one logical place to start. Connection.
My next blog will show you that the same skills necessary to connect in business relationships are just as important to have a personal relationships. Want to know why your relationship isn’t working? I’m willing to bet it’s because you are not connected.