Wed | Jun 16, 2021

Sell your way to career success

Published:Sunday | June 24, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Glenford Smith, career writer

I have to start this column with a confession. It's that I feel really weird writing about selling. Here's why.

I could never have imagined, up to a decade ago, that I would be advocating that selling and marketing are the most essential skills for success and life mastery. Yet, that's precisely what I'm asserting in this column.

You see, when we were children, my siblings and I had to walk for miles in our district and surrounding communities selling callaloo. This was from our father's farm in James Hill, Clarendon.

I hated it. I felt embarrassed and self-conscious. I wanted to hide if I saw my friends from school, especially the girls. It was terrible. The only thing which made it tolerable was that the money from a few bundles was mine to do as I pleased. I liked that part a lot.

For most of my life I regarded sales as a kind of "fall-back" or second-class vocation. I didn't see it as a real profession like engineering, law, teaching or medicine. It was something you did because you didn't have a real profession. Now, looking back at it, I was a fool, to put it bluntly.

That attitude prevented me from learning about selling and marketing. It also prevented me from making a lot more money, among other benefits.

So why are selling and marketing the key to life success? The great pioneering success philosopher, Napoleon Hill, begins his book, Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion, with the answer. He says, "We are all salespeople. Some of us who have made careers of calling on customers and clients to sell a product or service are more overt, but everyone is selling something - an idea, a dream, or a point of view."

To sell is to persuade someone else to buy, to influence another to do what you want them to do. Successful people are good sellers, unsuccessful people are not. It's as simple as that.

A job interview candidate is selling his skills and experience to a prospective employer. A lawyer is trying to get the jury to buy into his/her arguments and acquit his/her client.

You're trying to sell your boss on why he should give you the promotion instead of your colleague whom he's thinking of appointing. An entrepreneur tries to sell his bank on his business idea, to secure capital.

And you're selling yourself on your own potential when you tell yourself not to give up, that you can make it, even though you feel frustrated, fearful, and hopeless.

So you see, selling is the fundamental skill to master in life. Many brilliant graduates are at home unemployed because they can't sell or market themselves well. It's the same with many talented artists and technicians.

Conversely, people of average intelligence and talent make a good living in any economy because of one skill they possess - salesmanship.

No matter how technically brilliant you are as a doctor, an engineer, athlete or accountant, if you can't market yourself effectively to patients, job interviewers, clients and superiors, you don't stand a chance of succeeding.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of a new book, 'From Problems to Power: How to Win Over Worry and Turn Your Obstacles into Opportunities'.