Monday, 22 February 2010

Salesmanship is the mark of civilization

Salesmanship is the mark of civilization. It demands the capacity to communicate with others, empathy to understand their needs, and flexibility to recognize what works and what doesn't. When you look at a society of great merchants, you will be see freedom, prosperity, and generosity.

On the other hand, if commercial abilities are so essential, how come that only a small percentage of the population make the effort to acquire them? Companies often complain about how difficult it is to find good salesmen. Is this phenomenon a temporary problem or only the tip of the iceberg?

Societies that produce decreasing numbers of salesmen are moving backwards in time. To which extent are we headed towards more primitive levels of psychological development? Are you sceptical about the seriousness of the problem? The scenario might be even worse than you think.
  • What are the reasons behind the chronic scarcity of good marketers?
  • Why is salesmanship excluded from the primary school curriculum?
  • How come that some people view commerce as an activity placed only one step away from evil?
The answer can be only this one: good marketing is at the same time a highly valuable and an extremely difficult process. In fact, there are few things in life as challenging as finding customers for a new product.

How can we expand the commercial skills of every employee? Is there an easy way to allow each person to develop his hidden sales potential? The following unconventional idea might help turn the tide: It is high time to put everybody into sales.

In a sizeable company, which employees are most likely to lose touch with reality? Those whose tasks are removed from the process of selling to customers! Let me emphasize that "contact with customers" does not necessarily involve sales.

Take service jobs for instance. How often have you seen movies where a bus driver's job is portrayed as the ultimate non-commercial experience?

In that occupation, the trip destination, the time table, and the ticket price are fixed in advance. Does that leave no room for salesmanship at all? How would you improve the situation is you happened to own a bus company?

Change your perspective for a moment and imagine now that you are the driver and that you own the bus yourself. You know that your livelihood depends on your regular customers. How would that affect your performance?
  • Would you smile to passengers?
  • Would you pour them a free cup of coffee from time to time?
  • Would you try to sell them newspapers and chocolate?
  • How clean would you keep your bus?
My point is that it doesn't matter if you are the driver or the company owner. In all cases, salesmanship will enhance your income and render you more tolerant. You will find yourself striving to understand other people's point of view in any discussion and your vision of the world will become progressively sharper.

I could give you twenty reasons in favour of your exerting yourself to become a good marketer, but if I was pushed to choose one single argument, this is the one I'd select: acquiring a salesman's wisdom will simply turn you into a better human being.


[Image by Shayan under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]