The Core

Selling: The Basics

There are three legs to the salesman’s stool, without which the salesman would be sitting on the floor, a position less congenial to negotiating a deal than some others. The three legs are:

·      Marketing: It is sometimes challenging to ascertain the difference between Sales and Marketing. Think of it this way: Marketing was invented to help sell things people don’t need. It’s the fluffer. Products and services that people actually need do not require Marketing’s song and dance. That list, however, is limited: food, functional clothing, running water, some form of heat in the winter. When you depart from those essentials, Marketing is needed. The more silly and useless the object or activity to be sold, the more intense the Marketing needs to be. Root concepts of Marketing include branding, positioning and, when necessary, repositioning. We will explore each in brief as we move through this portion of your Core Curriculum.

·      Selling: After the product is manufactured and made available to the market, and after sufficient Marketing has been applied to the product and raised the appropriate level of awareness, the time comes to Sell the thing. The art of selling transcends the product that is itself the subject of the enterprise. Selling is persuasion, an exercise of self. Product knowledge is important, of course, but even the most knowledgeable sales person is lost without the capacity to pitch, convince and close. Selling involves getting another human being to part with something, usually money, in exchange for whatever it is you are telling them they need.

·      Negotiation: One of the most important skills of all, negotiation is the seductive dance of all business relationships, successful or not. It involves, at one time or another: bargaining, wheedling, cajoling, bullying, reasoning and, when necessary, threats and promises in equal measure. Obviously, the finer points take a lifetime to learn; but the fundamental basis of success here must be grasped early: both sides must believe they have, in some sense, won. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be the one who actually won. But unless you’ve got some mighty leverage, or never expect to do business with the other person again, you should let them walk away with at least one lung left in working order. 

Going forward now, the assumption will be made that you have very little talent for this stuff, i.e. that you are normal and uninitiated. That’s okay. You will learn a certain approach, practice that approach, and then hack away at it the way most people you see doing things for a living do them. This will prepare you up to a certain point. But hopefully, somewhere along the line, you will discover the part of your personality that can be good at this stuff. This Curriculum can teach you the steps. But you have to want to dance.

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