Is "Sell" a Four-Letter Word?
Why is it that people who are not in Sales feel that selling is a bad
(or at least mildly uncomfortable) thing to do? I'll bet that most of us
have had this feeling at some point in our careers. We conjure up a
vision of the used-car salesman attired in a plaid suit trying to coerce
us into buying a car (likely a lemon) that we don't want with money that
we don't have.
The reality is that ANYONE and EVERYONE who touches the customer (e.g.,
client, patient, member, etc.) is in sales; believe it or not, and like
it or not. At the very least, we represent the organization that we work
for. And, our interactions with the customer will hopefully prompt them
to want to "buy" more. The worse case scenario is that our actions cause
them to want to run away from our firm and tell everyone else why. At
the very best, customer-facing personnel (customer service reps,
technical support reps, nurses, wait staff, consultants, etc.) can and
should "sell" our firm's products and services to our customers.
Let's consider definitions of the word. The American Heritage®
Dictionary defines sell as "To persuade (another) to recognize
the worth or desirability of something." I would suggest that an even
better definition would be "To connect a need with a solution."
It would seem that everyone in a customer-facing position would clearly
want to help connect a customer's need with a solution. Too often,
however, we only think about (or are aware of) the "immediate" area or
department that we represent and its products and services. Or, we
realize that the customer's need is something outside of, or not covered
in, the current contract and that the solution may only be obtained for
an additional fee. Now, we get into that uncomfortable territory…
Let's put ourselves in the customer's shoes. If you have a problem,
need, or want that the organization (or person) you are talking to could
help with, wouldn't you want them to let you know of your complete set
of options? Informing the customer of options and solutions is much
different than coercing him against his will. And, if customers indicate
an interest in learning more about the options you share, you can
certainly refer them to the snake-oil (I mean sales) department in your
Doing so is not only good for the customer, but you owe it to the
company that provides your livelihood to completely understand the
nature and breadth of the products and services offered. This enables
you to be an ambassador for your firm, bolstering its longevity.
Also consider the fact that the sales/business development team is often
focused on landing new business with new clients. You (customer service,
technical support, consultant, nurse, member services, etc.) are the one
interacting with and meeting the ongoing needs of "current" customers.
If/when you identify a customer need (expressed or observed), take the
next steps to share the solution!
In case you thought I forgot…Yes, sell is (technically speaking) a
4-letter word, but not in the sense you were thinking when you decided
to read this article. In closing, if you are able to convince me that
you are not a sales person, then you just demonstrated your
effectiveness at sales.
+ Is "Sell" a 4-Letter Word?
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