Everything in Life is Selling


Robert Louis Stevenson said 'Everything in Life is Selling' and it is. Whether as a child you cry until you get what you want; whether as an adult you provide a service to your employer in return for payment; or whether as an individual you make sure that you look your best before meeting someone on a date, they can all be defined as selling.

Selling has been with us probably forever. It could be said that the first salesperson was probably the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. Selling apples in return for infinite wisdom may seem far removed from your own sales activities but they are nevertheless linked.

Selling is a professional skill which can be learned by anyone wanting to learn. Sales skills are not inherent. You can learn the same skills used by the most successful of salespeople but that does not guarantee that you will be successful in sales. As with anything that is skills based, ultimate success relies on internal motivational factors such as commitment, drive, determination and resilience.

There are several of things to bear in mind: -

? There is nothing new in selling. Most courses and most theories of selling look remarkably the same, simply because the basics of selling hold true whichever environment you work in.

? Selling is a lot simpler than some people make it out to be. That simplicity however belies the need to work hard at it. Acquiring selling skills requires significant practice.

? Selling is an honourable profession with a dishonourable reputation

? Some people appear to do it naturally

The problem is that whilst the skills of how to do this can be learned by everybody, not everybody wants to learn the skills. It is possible to provide you with all the knowledge and skills you will need to be a successful salesperson but unless you have the right attitude towards selling then the acquisition of this knowledge and the practice of the skills required will be wasted.

Here are some basic principles about selling and your role in the success of your company which should be the foundation stone of your route to sales excellence:

Treat Selling as a Profession

The reason why most people do not regard selling as a profession is that too many salespeople do not treat it as a profession. Professionals embark upon their careers by studying the subject in some depth; become qualified in their profession; practice the skills relentlessly; and update their knowledge and skills regularly.

Many salespeople adopt some of these principles in terms of product knowledge, but forget that the main tools of their trade are not the products they use, but the way in which they communicate. If we were to say that salespeople speak, then it would be an over-simplification of the power of speech. What made Humphrey Bogarde, Richard Burton, or James Mason famous had as much to do with the sound of their voices than of their acting ability.

Knowledge therefore should not be restricted to what you sell, but how you sell. Studying psychology, communication, and relationships should be as much a part of your induction to sales as a history of the company. Learning about how people react to one another is just as important as where your products are placed in the market. Understanding about buying motivation is as vital to a professional salesperson as understanding how the balance sheet works.

Accept Personal Responsibility for Sales Success

There is no such thing as luck in selling. Successful salespeople make their own luck. They engineer to be in the right place at the right time with the right product. Your sales success is dependent upon you and no one else. Theirs might contribute to it, in the same way that you contribute to the overall success of your company, but in terms of your own performance then you are responsible. Accepting personal responsibility puts you in charge.

Understand Yourself

If you analysed what motivates you, you will be well on the road to knowing what motivates others. Self-analysis is a prerequisite for sales success. Set goals, priorities and deadlines. Those who are achievers do not rely on luck but generally have a game plan that they work to. They know what they want and work towards achieving it.

Understand that Customers will buy 'expensive' when appropriate

If people only bought what was cheap then all companies would be selling the same thing. There are companies selling items which are more expensive than yours and companies selling items which are cheaper than yours. People buy what they believe satisfies what they want. Your own house will be crammed full of things which you could not justify on price alone - your customers are the same. Most customers buy things without comparing them. Think of the last five items you bought and what comparisons you made before parting with your money.

Treat Customers how you want to be treated

An old maxim in selling is 'If you do what's right for enough other people, they will do what is right by you'. Speak to people how you would like to be spoken to. Treat them how you would like to be treated. It won't work every time, but even the times it doesn't will physically and mentally make you feel better.

Age, Gender and Experience count for nothing

Successful salespeople come in all ages, from each gender, and have varying degrees of experience. Sales success is no respecter of age or experience. Buyers will buy from people whom they trust and trust is a matter of reaction to the behaviour of others not grey hair or the sharing of the sports news. That said, image is important, and yet everybody can improve image.


Your attitude should be that everyone wants to buy from you at some time. Providing that you keep in touch on a regular basis, one day you will be in the right place at the right time with the right proposal. Most unsuccessful salespeople stop contacting customers on the occasion just before the one on which they buy.

The best of salespeople are usually those who have doubts about their ability to the extent that they are constantly trying to improve themselves in case anybody finds them out!

Learning is a never-ending experience. Someone once said 'To cease to learn is to cease to live'. I encourage you to live a little.

Frank Salisbury is a highly experience motivational speaker, and inspiring business coach, particularly to the sales profession. Frank is recognised as a leading authority in the field of sales - including sales process design, sales performance, and sales coaching.

He strongly believes that whether we work in the public or private sector; whether our organisation is commercial or non-commercial; that we are all in sales. His favourite quote, which has become his maxim, is from Robert Louis Stevenson - 'Everything in live is selling'. He has spoken at numerous conferences and seminars where his style has received popular acclaim for a speaker with a passion for life, and achievement.


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