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CAREERS: Sell to excel - Why you may not be good at sales and what to do about it

Published:Wednesday | December 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Glenford Smith, Career Writer

Recently, an entrepreneur - let's call her Andrea - shared with me that she didn't like to sell, and wasn't good at it. Naturally, I asked why.

"Selling feels like begging. I feel guilty asking people for money, and I don't like to bother people," she told me.

Most of us know what she means. Friends and clients have related hilarious stories to me of the lengths they've gone to avoid the stress of asking someone to buy something from them.

One client told me how he visited a prospect's location and drove around, literally for hours, trying to drum up the courage, while planning what to say. After all that, he reasoned it was too late to call on anyone, and drove back to his office, feeling like a coward and a fool.

Many of us have similar stories, from our earliest experiences in selling. All successful salespersons have had to work constantly at overcoming their fear of, aversion to, and ineptitude at selling, however.


The reason is simple, but important for you to grasp: Of all the skills you need to master your career, selling is one of the most important. If you hate selling, or you're not good at it, you're severely limiting your career success.

Robert Kiyosaki, bestselling author of Rich Dad Poor Dad states: "The most important specialised skills needed for success are sales and understanding marketing. It is the ability to sell - therefore, to communicate to another human being, be it a customer, employee, or boss - that is the base skill of success."

Why then do most people dislike or denigrate selling? And why aren't they good at sales, if it's that important?

I discovered that the greatest obstacle to mastering the art of selling is the mindset revealed by Andrea's answer above. It's thinking that you're begging, bothering or wanting to deprive someone by asking them to buy your product or service.

crippling fear

It's this thinking that creates feelings of guilt and shame when someone tells us no. And it's this mindset that fosters the crippling fear that stops most people in their sales track. Does that include you?

If so, here's the paradigm-shifting revelation that cured my selling aversion. It was in an interview by American marketing legend Dr Joe Vitale, author of The Attractor Factor.

He said, "I learned that marketing is actually this wonderful service to the planet. It's a way to communicate something that I have to somebody that would really have a different life once they have it, that would actually benefit them."

Wow! That was a mind-shifter.

In other words, think of your product or service, not as depriving your prospective customers. You're not bothering them, nor begging them anything. Rather, you're offering a helpful solution to a frustrating problem they're having.

This mindset requires that we refrain from obsessing over our own needs, desires and fears. Instead, focus entirely on how you can help others succeed and live happier lives.

That's something we all want to do, right? So, what's there not to like in that?

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of Profile of Excellence.