I want to apologize to all the salespeople in the world.
I want to apologize on behalf of all the sales trainers, speakers, influencers, writers, gurus, thought-leaders, and assorted muckity-mucks who have been filling your world with articles that have titles like the above. We’re doing you a huge disservice, and we should stop it. But we probably won’t.
It’s Easy to Mistake Volume for Quality
You see, we’re all trying to get your attention so that you’ll think we’re smart, and wise, and action-oriented. We want you to think that we have the magic pill that you’ve been missing. That we have the thing that can scratch your itch.
It’s because current thinking says we have to be controversial and loud to prove our correctness.
It’s because we have big egos, and we want to believe that we have the right answers and we want you to validate us.
Really, it’s because we want you to hire us to speak at your conference, or buy our books, or sign up for our online course.
I mean, we do have families to feed, just like you.
Most of us have the best intentions, and we really do want to help you. And usually, we can. But too often we get caught up in bold pronouncements, preaching to the choir, and declarations of unalterable fact (and trying to spread rumors about our detractor’s opinions). Why? Well, it’s pretty much because of that whole ego and making money thing.
We’re Playing the Attention Game
I’d like to say that I’ll never write an article with a crap click-baitey title again. But I know I will. I think that I have useful information to share, and, unfortunately, I have to play the attention game just like everyone else. So sorry for that.
You see, it used to be only Brian Tracy, Zig Zigler, Tom Hopkins, Tony Robbins, and a handful of others out there plying the craft. In the old days, they really had to prove themselves. They couldn’t rely on a hastily put together ebook and some tweets. They couldn’t just sit at home writing articles and doing webinars.
They had to go through the process of actually publishing a book, through a publishing house, and they really had to know what they were talking about. Then they would criss-cross the country speaking at every sales meeting they could. They really had to hustle to make it.
Not today. Technology and a new marketplace have created a lower barrier to entry which has allowed a flood of people into the sales training/professional development field.
That’s good and bad. It’s easier for new people to plant their flag. And there are a lot of sharp people with valuable voices and perspectives. Unfortunately, there’s no promise that everyone knows what they are talking about or that they care about your success (as opposed to their Paypal balance).
This glut of content isn’t going to go away. You’re going to continue to get pummeled with “helpful” information many times a day.
7 Guidelines for Interpreting Sales Advice
So in the meantime, salespeople, I want to share a mental framework that should help process all of this. The next time you go to your computer or phone, when you open LinkedIn, visit your favorite blog, or get the latest newsletter, remember this:
- Nobody has the “secret” to selling. If they tell you they do, they’re full of shit and they’re trying to sell you something.
- There are no shortcuts to success. Stop looking for them. Yes, you want to develop effectiveness and efficiency at what you do. But you still have to put in work.
- Find mentors and influencers that resonate with you the most. There is nothing new under the sun. Even the giants in the field are simply rehashing (with some tweaking, admittedly) of what the generation before them said.
- The world of selling is incredibly wide and varied. Nothing works the same way and to the same degree for everybody. Don’t expect blanket solutions.
- At most, you should only believe about 80% of what someone says. Even if they are your favorite author/speaker/trainer, at least 20% of what they say is wrong or wrong for you.
- Sales isn’t dying. Social selling is a valid response to the explosion of digital communication. And cold calling still has a valuable role to play.
- Stop reading articles and go do your work.