Everyone is in sales…and in the people business

More than 25 years ago a retired banker gave me a copy of a book he had written. I forgot the title, but the premise was that no one had ever told him he would be in sales, and the fact is that everyone is. Everyone tries to persuade, inspire or motivate others to make a “purchase” with their funds, time, judgement or support.

I recently had a conversation with a young salesman who closed an important deal. I asked him how it was that he was able to make it happen when his employer had had the client engaged for quite some time. The young man’s answer says a lot about all sales and human relations.  He admitted that he could have completed the deal earlier, but he wanted to wait until the client was totally comfortable with the deal and had complete trust in the company to deliver. The salesman was patient enough and unselfish enough to make things right for the client instead of pushing hard to score the success for himself.

His story got me to thinking about how people handle the process of trying to convince/sell/motivate others to buy what is being sold, decide in a way the “seller” deems appropriate, agree with the position of the seller, and so on.  Whether we are selling widgets or services, the idea of where to go on vacation, the decision of where to go on a date or agreeing to accept our proposal (whether one delivered on paper or on bended knee)…no matter what we’re selling – trying to get others to buy, accept or agree with – it serves everyone well to be patient while looking at the process as a very human interaction.

More than 17 years ago, I wrote an article about six tips about sales learned from a shoeshine man. I adapted the lessons to fundraising, too. In that experience, I ended up buying something that I had never purchased before at a time when I was not shopping (at all, much less for what he was selling) and I ended up paying more than originally quoted while enjoying the entire process.  How did that happen? The transaction was monetary; the interaction was human.

The young salesman told me that he learned a lot about the client over the time; their life experiences had many similarities, understanding of which made their connection stronger. No matter what we do, it is people oriented. Be patient; connect; empathize; understand. Never confuse transaction with interaction.

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