- We have already discussed that each of you can be considered as a sales professional. You have been selling yourself since the day you were born. You also realize that you sell something every day–if not yourself, then your ideas. The important question to ask is, “Are you good at selling yourself?” The purpose of this lesson is to improve your ability to sell yourself and increase your selling power.
- What is selling power? How do you develop it? You first must understand what the word “selling” means. Selling means, “to transfer goods or render services in exchange for money”. The best word to define selling is persuasion. Selling is an art of persuading or influencing another person’s thinking, feeling, or behavior. Persuasion is done with no direct power or force. Selling is simply persuasion.
The way you obtain and increase this selling power is through the development of two areas: Persuasive Techniques, and a Persuasive Personality. We know that some people seem to be born with a natural persuasive personality. They are outgoing, motivated, and very goal oriented. But people who are weak in these characteristics can learn specific personality traits that can assist them in building a persuasive personality. We will spend the latter part of this course learning how to develop and apply persuasive techniques. You will learn these techniques through developing good, sound, human relations skills. The first part of the course will concentrate on developing a persuasive personality.
Five eras of selling
- The Early Traders: Early traders have been around since the Middle Ages in the Middle East and in Western Europe. Early sales professionals of the Middle East were skilled craftsmen who sold the goods they made, usually worked on a barter basis, exchanging their fine, crafted products for something else that they needed. These early craftsmen were among the most respected people of their day. They had the reputation of producing the highest quality merchandise and spent all the time necessary in creating a product that was worthy to carry the creator’s name.
- The industrial revolution: The second era of selling is the Industrial Revolution. This era revolutionized production and had a profound effect upon distribution. In order to move the many goods produced by new industries, people had to be hired to transport and deliver these goods. In the United States, these people were known as Yankee Peddlers. Yankee Peddlers would carry merchandise on their backs, on horses, or on wagons and travel throughout the country to the various settlements in the eastern wilderness. The Yankee Peddler developed a warm atmosphere through a low-pressure approach and usually sold everything he had. The distribution of goods created a major problem because it would take months to get goods from the manufacturer to a specific group of people. Goods were lost on the way to delivery and often, goods were stolen because of all the obstacles the Yankee Peddler had to face. Many Yankee Peddlers never delivered the goods because they were killed by robbers and thieves. This era occurred during the late 1700s.
- The American Peddler: In the late 1800s and early 1900s a salesperson emerged, that created the majority of the myths that are found today about selling. The American Peddler, as he was called, was everything you hear today about the traveling salesman. He would exaggerate claims, speak fast and loud, and had the habit of being a back slapper. He would often tell inappropriate jokes and stories, and at times even attempt to chase the farmer’s daughter. This salesperson did more damage for the reputation of the selling industry than any other salesperson in history. Even though the majority of sales professional were trying to make an honest living, a couple of “bad apples” produced misconceptions of selling that are still hurting the image of selling today.
- The Professional Salesperson: In the 1950s, a gradual change took place in the selling world. Unlike the early high-pressure salesperson, most people involved in sales started the move toward becoming professionals. Sales professionals became aware that the customer’s welfare and happiness must come first. Sales professionals began to look at themselves as experts in their fields and attempted to keep up on all the new knowledge of their products. This group of sales professionals started the movement toward responsible sales practices and techniques. During the 1960s, a popular weekly television show named Father Knows Best, starring Robert Young, gave the selling industry a big boost in image. Robert Young was the ideal family man, father, husband, community citizen, and his profession was in insurance sales. On a weekly basis, we watched this ideal family man practice honesty and integrity in all his relationships at home and at work. Sales professionals were still around practicing the deceptive techniques of the 1930s, but a new breed of sellers wanted to make an image change from peddlers to professionals.