I had an interesting experience about a month ago. I was working with one of our marketing people in the office. We had a marketing project that needed to be executed and we needed to present some ideas to the executive team. Naturally, the marketing person I was working with is bright, energetic and had several good ideas on how to move this particular project forward.
We tested her ideas by running them through various different mental models and took several different viewpoints. I then threw her a curve ball by asking this question: “Can you sell this to our CEO?”
When I attend networking meetings, this question seems to draw many blank stares, curious looks and even a small amount of trepidation from almost everybody I ask. Sales people who have no problem selling to high level executives in their major accounts become confounded when it comes time to sell an idea to their own executives.
Truth is, top-level executives adore people who have good ideas, who are able to sell these ideas, and can make something happen. After all, the more you do, the less they have to do. And the less they have to do, the more they can focus on the things that only they can do.
Besides, we are sales people. We should never stop selling.
It does not matter if we are in front of a customer, at home with our spouses or even with our bosses.
When I was selling technology, I was working with an account manager on one of our major accounts. We were putting together a proposal for this account and we needed to allocate some continuing engineering resources to resolve an issue. In order to secure those resources, we had to make a presentation to the executives at our company.
Scott was understandably nervous and he had some performance anxiety when he thought about performing in front of our executive team. The manager of the major accounts team, Don, was in town helping him and gave him some coaching. He told Scott that he would do fine and there would be no problem as long as he remembered his training. Don then said, “You know, we have all of these great sales and presentation skills that we acquire in our career, and we use them very well when we are in front of a client. When we have to make a presentation to our own executives, however, we forget all about them.”
Sales professionals have said that sales is a transfer of emotion from the person doing the selling to the person being sold. Somewhere in time, the concept of sales got tied to the common definition we currently use involving a transference of money.
Sales is a communication style. We are all sales people and we are always in a position to sell. It doesn’t matter if the person being sold is a traditional buyer in a client company, a junior member of our project team, or an executive in our own company. We need to transfer our excitement and enthusiasm. The only way we can do that is by selling and communicating persuasively.
We would do well to remember Don’s advice and trust our training regardless of our situation or environment. Follow Don’s advice and remember that we are always selling.