Monday, June 15, 2009

What the Heck Is WRONG with Selling?

I don’t know about you, but I have no tolerance for those who try to outsmart the public – just so they look good while everyone else is, in their view, branded awful. It really, REALLY gets on my nerves. I recently put out a media release questioning what – in my view – is the massively misleading information being aired on some TV shows.

Avoid Sales People?

Have you noticed that all of a sudden everyone seems to be of the singular opinion that sales people are toxic? I mean, all of a sudden, some so-called professionals seem to be advocating that by avoiding people who want to sell you something, your life will be better – as if that’s possible.

This is not really a new practice, but I have been noticing what seems to be a theme on most TV and radio shows that I happen to catch, and it appears that this mindset is becoming prevalent. Personally, I think it’s shoddy, unprofessional, immature, hypocritical, and quite frankly, unethical. Let me explain.

I recently was watching a much advertised TV program that was supposed to give folks tips on how to get through the current economic situation. It featured a high-powered financial professional – or at least that’s how the host described this individual. To my amazement, this advisor’s key advice was that people should avoid any financial person whose goal is to sell them something.

Beyond that, there’s a TD Ameritrade advertisement that suggests that dealing with financial salespersons is ill-advised.

And then a colleague of mine in the financial industry recently recommended a book to me. The author was BLASTING what he referred to – I am paraphrasing here – “financial sales books.” He went on at great length about how cruel and dishonest salespeople are.

Everyone Is Selling SOMETHING!

Before we rush to buy into all the any-sales hyperbole, I have a question for you:

Do you honestly know of anyone who is not selling something?

I may not know you personally, but I can answer that question anyway:

Probably not.

If so, they are likely either deceased, incapacitated, unemployed, or retired – hope I’m not missing anyone. Let’s face it, if you don’t sell, you’ll most assuredly wind up bankrupt, either as a business or as an individual.

Every company – regardless of the business or industry – is SELLING a product or a service. Even churches and nonprofits are selling by trying to get you to donate your valuable time, talent, or treasure. Whether you are employed as a nurse, real estate agent, pastor, teacher, TV anchorperson, talk show host, police officer, congressman or woman, financial advisor, secretary, engineer, professor – GET THIS – you are a salesperson!

Whenever companies begin to experience declines in sales, you know what happens? Ask the folks at GM, Chrysler, and anyone else who’s lost their job recently due to the recession. Likewise, any individual in any capacity that stops selling had better be prepared to see red ink on their financial statements.

What I’d like to know is how this guy with the TV special gets away with his con. And that’s what it is – a BIG con job. Whether you are:

  • an expert who advises people that the way to ride out the recession successfully is to avoid salespeople all the while encouraging those same people to contact your firm – which doesn’t sell, I imagine – to get their affairs in shape;

  • a financial company advocating that folks avoid salespeople but call your independent advisors – who are not selling – to set up or roll over their IRAs;

  • an anti-sales author whose book is for sale on a website where people are required to leave an e-mail address so they can be solicited weekly about registering for your paid “special” training to become accredited to join their organization; or

  • a CFP trying to woo clients with this headline: Avoid Financial Salespeople – Get A CFP

if you are any of those, I hate to break it to you, but you are SELLING!

And now, the time has come for me to say “Stop the hypocrisy crap!”

The idea of every salesperson as the sleazy used car dealer is an antiquated and erroneous one. It's high time we all get used to our roles as salespeople and embrace them. If I had my way, my suggestion would be that no one patronize – or buy anything from – those who profess this ignorant idea, as well as the businesses that sponsor them. Since they are NOT SELLING anything anyway, your boycott of their products and services should not hurt them a bit, should it?


  1. I think the fact that everyone has something to share or offer is just fine. I have a problem with people trying to sell products that they know are not the best for the potential customer or client.

    The aversion people feel towards sales people is because (a) they know they are constantly told they should get things they know in their hearts they don't need, and (b) they've been pitched by so many people that they are just sick of it.

    You've articulated how many businesses are trying to capitalize on this very real problem. It is hypocritical but it generally works.

    If you want to not-sell, but-sell effectively, then you adopt the mindset of The trainer, Ari Galper, is not anti-selling per se, but instead tries to teach people how to not use "Sales" language that sets off an emotional immediate rejection by the prospect.

    He doesn't say to do this to manipulate people but rather to make sure they communicate truthfully about their situation so you and they can discover whether your product or service is a good fit for their needs.

    Everybody is selling - the real problem is what they are selling and how they are getting people to buy it.

  2. I agree with Sam Ingersoll, I realize that to make money and pay living expenses there is some sort of sale happening. But the way you do it is where there is a difference. I like the process we use as wealth strategists. Educate the prospective client, guide them and let the client come to the conclusion of what is best for them.

  3. Just recently, the administration introduced a pay-as-you-go-policy. In other words, no new government program unless the expense of that program could be covered by revenues elsewhere. "It is time to be fiscally responsible", we were all told. Later that day, they unveiled a national health care plan costing billions of dollars with no explanation as to where the revenue was going to come from.

    I am not picking on this administratio. Others have done it too, but my point is, if we get double talk at the highest ranks of the government and we are not supposed to notice, is it really all that surprising that marketing folks would use the same tactics as well?

    Discernment is required in all aspects of our lives and unfortunately many of us have gotten lazy and just want to be told what we are seeing. "What? The emperor has on a fine set of clothes? He looks naked to me, but if you say so, I will take your word for it as long as I don't have to think."

    As a fellow contrarian financial advisor who understands that people blindly following conventional wisdom have gotten the country in the mess we are in today, we understand that only those who are willing to actually engage their intellect can protect themselves from saleswolves in sheeps clothing.

    There are some who will be upset that I have implied that folks blindly following the direction of commercial spokespersons are sheep, and for that I am sorry, but I would suggest that we not blame the sheep, but be good sheperds and do our best to protect them from the slaughter. Thank you for sounding the alarm to that end.

  4. Mr. Asare you are right on point as always. Excellent observation. thanks for your openness.

  5. The best way to sxell is not to. However, have many sales people over the years who "shoot themselves in the foot" by using careless language or the wrong language for the client they are speaking too. That what I teach regardig sales language.


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