Posted by RICH LIEVENSE on 04/23/13
When you read these adjectives, what comes to mind?
“Slimy, smarmy, sleazy, hoodwinkery, sleaze-baggery, low-brow, slick, aggressive, low-road…”
According to Daniel Pink, bestselling author, these are the adjectives most often associated with the term sales. I’ve been around a while and have had many different roles that involved some type of sales – convincing others to make some type of exchange. I get it, that’s sales… but slimy, smarmy, sleazy?
We introduced Daniel Pink to both our northern and western Michigan clients at an invitation-only educational forum. We all enjoyed Daniel’s presentation of his new book – To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. And we gained a new perspective on the term sales.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports one in nine Americans works in sales. Said differently, more than fifteen million people head out the door everyday earning their keep by convincing someone else to buy something. Daniel expands these statistics however, by claiming nine in nine Americans work in sales – like it or not, we are all in sales now. Doctors convince patients to follow-through with treatments; teachers influence students to study; employees persuade colleagues on a new idea; coaches motivate athletes to perform. Daniel presented a compelling argument that we all sell stuff – ideas, advice, products, services, etc. We all persuade, negotiate, and pitch.
So what does this mean to us? I’ve often put forth in this blog what I hope is helpful and insightful commentary on how we build better businesses. Daniel made me think more deeply about this role of sales… and because we all do it, I asked myself, who really does it well and how are they wired?
Are you familiar with the term ambivert? I was not until I heard Daniel reference the term in his presentation and book. We generally think of extroversion as the ‘must-have’ personality trait of top salespeople – sociable, life-of-the-party, lively, animated. I know them, I’ve hired them, (maybe sometimes I am them). Daniel introduced me to a new reality – there is no empirical evidence that confirms extroverts to be the best salespeople. Statistically, ambiverts – those that sit roughly in the middle between extroversion and introversion – are the most successful sales professionals. Ambiverts find the balance – they know when to speak up and when to listen, they inspect and respond. Ambiverts are able to build lasting and trusting relationships with a broader range of people; and they definitely are not slimy, smarmy, sleazy, hoodwinkery, sleaze-baggery, low-brow, slick, aggressive, low-road…
When time allows, pick up Daniel Pink’s new read… it’s a perceptive and practical book.