I come from a long history of salesmen in my family. My grandfather owned a successful retail clothing business in New Bedford, MA managing upwards of 50 salesmen at a time. My father was in sales beginning in his teens knocking on doors for Fuller Brush, then Electrolux and later owned a real estate brokerage. This article in the WSJ talks about how the current generation graduating from college isn’t interested in sales. They don’t want to be known as wheeler-dealers. Can you blame them? Who in the world wants to be that? But the key to sales has always been about solving someone’s problem. That’s why the best salesmen never sell a thing. WSJ reader Chris Derry sums it up best:
At Western Kentucky University, we offer a major and minor in Sales. We have quadrupled the number of students in those majors and minors over the last six years, and sales recruiters are in our classrooms regularly.
The negative stereotype firmly attached to Sales is something I confront with students on day one. I ask them if they have ever had a negative experience with a salesperson and all the hands go up. But when I ask them to relate a POSITIVE experience they have had with a salesperson, the hands disappear. Why? Because when you get what you need from a salesperson, you don’t think you have been sold. You just get what you wanted!