It is important to know that selling is not only a profession but the greatest of professions. And, in reality, is also the oldest.
Before there were dedicated farmers, those barely surviving through a combination hunting, gathering and harvesting, traded the extras they had for other things they needed. It was this barter that lead to the concept of specialization, enabling an economy, which was the creation of communities, where before the human race was basically just some twist on what amounts to not much more than cavemen.
Your guess is as good as this writer’s as to how the old adage about “the oldest profession” being prostitution got started. But all it takes is common sense to realize and then assert that even prostitutes had to settle on the bargain, making the solicitation as it were, before surrendering to the act.
Communication was and is the key to all industry, even in the beginning when they were strictly ‘cottage industry’ or ‘personal services’ (if I can put it that way!). And, the art of communication or the art of persuasion, if you prefer, must then be considered the first profession, unless you call hunting a profession rather than what it original was; a method of survival. And, yes, there were paid hunters later on, but this was only after an economy flourished and specialization required skilled people to do various things, such as get meat for winter.
Hunters taught their sons and village members what they had learned, what cunning and skills worked best. And, similarly, sales skills were mentored or ‘passed on’ too.
Those who had market stalls and sold goods to others passed on their techniques to sons, daughters or juniors who took more and more responsibility. These mentored individuals worked the stalls or managed the traveling caravans on trade routes. Thus the aging peddler of the day would be able to continue making a profit financing these efforts even though they eventually could no longer handle either standing all day in a market nor deal with the rigors of caravan/trade travel. And one day, the teacher was bought out by tutored.
So the industry of sales training progressed through time until technology changed how skills were passed on. Printing allowed books, the advent of modern mail services and post offices created a method for marking the books. The recording industry allowed for records and finally tapes. Now we have the Internet, CD’s and DVD’s. And, to put this into perspective, all of this from the direct marketing/mailing industry to today happened in the span of a single lifetime.
For thousands of years there was one-on-one mentoring. Something in the order of 80 to 120 generations passed sales skills on by word of mouth, from the days of the first city, located at the confluence of the rivers Tigres and the Euphrates. And only within the last generation have all the technology changes taken place to create a sales training industry!
No product has ever been moved without a sale. The very basis of economy, meaning the movement of goods between people, rather than everyone making everything they needed to use and eat themselves, lead to specialization. All was based on communication, on selling. If it were not for our profession, there never would have been an industrial or information revolution. And we would still be not much more than hunter gatherers.
That is why ours is the greatest profession. It is the very cornerstone of society!
However, there is a grave danger within the sales profession today. The very communication techniques that were the catalyst of the technological revolution, which lead to the information revolution, is also a detriment. Yes, now information is available at a much greater rate than ever before but so is misinformation.
The Internet has in some ways spurned sales. Just take a look at the definition of sales at Wikipedia, for example. If I had not personally modified “cold calling” it would still be extremely negative. And, the definition of “sales” does not mention anything like what is contained in this article. It is dry and short, indicating a very clinical approach to explaining how all goods and services are moved.
In addition, there are now books available at Amazon with titles like “Selling Suc_ks” (purposely misspelled) and “Never Col_d Call Again” (also deliberately misspelled), which unfortunately lend credibility to the general publics’ misunderstanding of the sales profession. While there are leaders online, there seem to be at least as many if not more who are misleading in nature, whether that by deliberate design or not.
It is just as easy to promote the positives of our great profession as it is to fixate on the negative. And, by giving in, harmful and damaging images are spread even within our profession, never mind outside of it. Instead of entrusting a tremendously skillful profession, between people who have respect for each other, as was done during the word of mouth phase of sales training, in one 100th of the time those who are not known to us individually are literally swaying us to the dark side as they degrade that which should be revered!
Though I am not saying any one particular author is at fault, it is happening in general, and I recommend that you do not give in to this movement. It is nothing more than ignorance or individuals exploiting the impression left by poor examples of our industry, which comes from people who were not mentored. And that is why I took the time to explain the relevance of how 80 to 120 generations of mentoring has been replaced in one generation with individuals we do not know and cannot say we trust that are spreading misleading information.
Instead of giving in or getting frustrated, we can continue our own faction of sales that believes completely that selling is the greatest profession in the world and in history. And, though we owe our very freedom to the lives of people who fought and died in WWII, as one example, such events in history are short lived. Sales always existed as a profession and has always been revered by the small numbers who mastered it throughout time. We will not let others tell us that the sales profession “sucks”, it is not true and never will be no matter the fact that there will always be those who are poor sales people.
Learn to master salesmanship. And along the way, always impart that mentoring is the best way to discover what works. And it MUST, begin with the one being mentored getting to know the tutor well enough to know if they can be trusted.
In this day and age, with the algorithms used by Google, Yahoo, Amazon and MSN for search results, merely by us searching a product, it gains in “popularity” and then appears at the top of searches. For instance, if you go to amazon.com today, December 21st, 2007, and search “selling” and you will see the book mentioned above in the 2nd position in the books that are listed from that search. This is because others have searched the specific name of the book online and at Amazon.
And, the truth is, any title that does not put our profession in a light you would accept as a professional, if it is not specifically searched, will not appear at the top. This is why I say the information age lends to misinformation being spread.
Be careful what you do online. Even by writing about something you do not agree with, something you feel may be hurtful to our profession, you make it more popular and cause more people to be mislead (hence my choices to misspell).
Good luck, both today and in the future, with whatever it is you decide to do.