By Heino Molls
When I was young I often thumbed my nose at authority. I made sport of people’s jobs. I ridiculed officious fops who walked around flaunting their fancy business cards with “vice-president of such and such” emblazoned on them.
As with so many other things in life, I mellowed on this when I got older. In fact, when I grew up I regretted some of my views as too extreme. I realize today that people’s titles are earned and deserve our respect. For the most part.
If there is one title that deserved greater respect from me, it was “salesperson” or “sales representative”.
I continue to be surprised today at how many people were like me in their attitudes and somehow did not come to see the light or the error of their judgment.
I have had many a lively discussion with a lot of folks who are not enlightened, including friends and family. I have talked to people in all kinds of professions such as teachers, managers, writers and a host of others. I have suggested to them that at the end of the day we are all salespeople, only to have them vehemently deny it. “I could not bring myself to be a salesperson,” they say with great indignation. “I would never think of trying to sell anyone anything” they say, in the most foppish manner that I have ever heard.
Everyone is a salesperson.
I know some big deal advertising executives who tell me that they are going to pitch some ideas to a new client. If I was to I say to them, “Oh, you are going to try and sell a new customer,” they would no doubt harrumph and tell me that they do not do such crass things.
If I was to suggest to a teacher that the history lesson they were planning was no different than preparing a sales presentation to sell students, I would no doubt be told that I am wrong and that teaching is different from selling.
That is nonsense.
Many years ago, I asked Hub Foley, a Metroland vice-president and publisher for whom I had great respect, if he could define in a few short words what defines a good salesperson.
“You must first truly believe in the product or the service that you are selling. You must believe that if someone buys it, it will be beneficial to them. After that,” he said, “you must be a teacher. You must do all you can reasonably to show your customer that it is good for them to buy your product. You will have no regrets if a person does not buy your product if you have explained everything about it to them.”
I think back to that good advice frequently.
Good selling seems to come down to just a few fundamentals. Find out what is good. If you come upon something that is good and you believe in it, then it is something you can sell. Be reasonable in how you present your product.
Teach others by sharing all you know about it.
It occurs to me that all these things are important in life. If we want others, especially young people, to understand what is important, we must first determine what those things truly are. We must be reasonable in our judgment of what that is. We must teach others by sharing all we know.
I guess that at the end of the day, when I think about it, I don’t really want to tell people that I am the grand publisher of REM. I would rather tell them that I sell advertising.
I am honoured to let you know that I am a salesman.