It was a Monday morning and I was entering the lobby of our corporate offices in Chicago. In order to gain access to the elevators everyone has to show credentials at the security desk. But before I went in I noticed a young man just a few steps behind me. I held the door open for him and asked him what he was selling. He really looked the part. He was well dressed, his shoes were shined and he had a demeanor that exuded confidence. I just knew he was making a call. "Communications systems," is what he told me. I'm always interested in salespeople because I like to see how they handle themselves. They say airline pilots always watch how other pilots land their planes. It's instinctive. That's the way I feel about watching other salespeople. After I had passed security, I took my time before I pressed the button for the elevator to my office floor. I wanted to hear how the salesman introduced himself to the guard.
The young man asked to see the person responsible for corporate communications at Crain Communications, which is Modern Healthcare's parent company. The guard then asked him to identify his company, which he did. Then the guard asked, "Are you a salesman?" His reply went something like, "No, I'm a business consultant." From the tone of his voice you could tell the man was offended and embarrassed to be called a "salesman." Well, anyone in sales who's offended by being labeled a salesperson doesn't belong in the business. If they're embarrassed by that title, they can't have much confidence in their abilities. The most effective movers and shakers I know just love to be called salespeople. It makes them feel proud. They see themselves as warriors as they go out and try to conquer new markets.
Salespeople have a right to feel proud of their profession. They should delight in the nuances and sophistication of selling. It's a tough game that's definitely not for everyone. Many would love to be called a salesperson. They would think they had really arrived. That's because salespeople are the ones who make things happen. Sure, customers are the lifeblood of any business, but there's no such thing as customers without the sales team. They're the ones on the front lines.
But something odd happens along the way to some people. They want certain titles because they think they give them prestige. Being just a salesperson is beneath them. But when a man calls himself a "business consultant" when in actuality he's a salesman, he's only deceiving himself. Most people know that "account executive" and "business consultant" are synonymous with salesperson. Nobody is fooled by phony titles. So why not come right out and say you're in sales and want to pitch something that's going to make that client's life easier, streamline an operation or help that person make more money. To me, the title of salesperson doesn't need one bit of embellishment. It's so much simpler to be honest at the beginning, and people will respect you for it.
Think about what would happen to all businesses if there weren't salespeople out there promoting their products and services. The marketplace as we know it couldn't exist. Companies would fall by the wayside for lack of customers. The economy would be in chaos. Furthermore, I think most of us would admit we enjoy being sold by a salesperson who knows his or her business and acts like a professional. Claiming you're not a salesperson when that's what you are is really an insult to clients. They know what you're about and what you want. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Charles S. Lauer