In Dan Pink's book, To Sell is Human, he argues that the ability to sell is universally necessary. The idea that sales is sleazy and only belongs on the used Subaru lot is totally ridiculous when you really think about it. According to Pink, selling is about more than getting someone to buy something, but more importantly it's about moving others. This point about moving others is where I really got hooked and my mind starting running wild with ideas. The whole time, I was thinking of ways that I could others excited about this concept and how potentially useful it is to anyone and everyone.
Here's some of the three big points I took away from the book:
1. Learning to sell, means learning to articulate the value of what you have to offer in a compelling way.
When you try to sell someone on an idea of yours, it's absolutely critical that you can clearly articulate the value of what your proposing and why they should care. This may sound easy, but when you sit down and really try to define why exactly someone should care about your idea, it gets tough. It's really telling when you speak with someone and ask them to explain why anyone should care about their idea and they can't tell you. Try it sometime. You'll be amazed at how often people draw a blank. I mean, seriously if you don't believe me just look at most orchestra's mission statements.
2. Learning to sell, means learning to effectively communicate.
Whether you're trying to sell someone over the phone, through a Facebook page, or through any other form of communication. Selling is all about being to communicate your ideas to anyone through a variety of outlets. I don't know anyone who couldn't stand to improve some aspect of their communication skills with others. Getting out there and trying to articulate the value of your ideas in any medium is a great way to learn communication. You'll learn tons about how to adapt your communication to make it effective with anyone.
Who couldn't benefit from that?
3. Learning to sell, means learning to help your ideas spread and influence others.
This is the big one. We all have ideas that we want to spread and learning to sell will help anyone be more effective in their quest to make some kind of difference. Whether you want to help your kid become more motivated to fill out their college applications, start a business, or win anyone to your way of thinking, investigating sales will help you accomplish that.
Being able to sell doesn't just mean getting people to buy things with money, it means getting people to part with resources in exchange for something that will add value to their life. These resources could be anything from time, attention, money, or virtually anything else. Coordinating these various resources to help you accomplish your goals is what selling your ideas is all about.
Think about it. Everyone has a friend or family member they'd like to influence in some way or maybe some big idea they'd like to implement at their job. It's all a matter of coordinating the resources necessary to make it happen. Whether you're a freelance horn player (like myself), a parent, teacher, or anyone looking have some kind of influence (which is everyone), the skills involved in sales will make you more effective.
If you're interested in doing some research, I would highly recommend Dan Pink's book To Sell is Human. It's probably the most "un-sales-y" book on sales you could possible find. It's an extremely engaging read that is filled the brim with fascinating psychology to learn about.
If you're interested in what the book is about, but don't want to read the book yet, take a look at this interview with Dan Pink talking about the idea in the book.
The image up top is by artist Hugh Macleod, a favorite cartoonist/author/marketer of mine that totally gets it.