If You Want to Change the World, Learn to Sell

My very first job in sales was cold calling small businesses to ask them to host a bike-a-thon in their area to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy. I received almost no training, other than being provided a script. The nice people running the company didn’t do anything to make the experience interesting for 15-year old boys and girls making calls.

After a few weeks of no success, I quit and took a job at the skating rink, a major upgrade in my mind. Soon after I started, the company called to ask me to come to back to work cold calling. As it turned out, I had converted two of my calls, and they were both starting their campaigns. That was two more than anyone else working there.

It would make a great story to tell you I went back and made an even greater contribution, but the 15-year old me really liked working at the skating rink! I was surrounded by kids my age, and it was way more fun.

It would be another 10 years before I would actually embrace the role and identity of salesperson, something that would never be possible for me if it wasn’t about making a difference.

Dispatching Old Stereotypes

The manager of the staffing firm where I worked in Los Angeles forced me to go into sales. I resisted because I never wanted to be a pushy, selfish, manipulative person. After selling for a few months, I learned the most important business lesson, and the one insight that allowed me to produce better results than my peers:

Selling isn’t something you do to someone. It is something you do for someone and with someone.

Selling doesn’t require that you be self-oriented, pushy, smarmy, or manipulative. Selling never requires that you make someone commit to something they don’t want to do.

Selling isn’t something you do to someone. It is something you do for someone and with someone.

Selling, at its core, is about helping people change. It is the process of helping people produce better results than they could produce without you. It’s also about helping them take the actions they need to take to achieve their goals and their dreams.

If you want to make a difference in the world, you are a change agent, and that means you are a salesperson by definition.

Asking for Commitments

Selling also involves asking people to make commitments. Change agents who believe in their mission, their purpose, and their cause need to ask people for their time, their money, and their energy.

If you want to make a greater difference in the world, you need to ask people to dedicate their time to your cause. You also have to ask them for their financial support, which is often easier to acquire than time. Making a difference means asking for the help you need. The better you are at obtaining commitments, the greater difference you can make.

Here’s the thing. You have to tell people what’s in it for them by agreeing to the commitment you are asking them to make. “By providing this financial support, you are going to help 60 children have access to clean water for a month. Can you help me with a donation?”

Rock-Star Salesman

Bono supports and raises money for more than 40 charities and foundations, from helping with hunger to fighting AIDS.

Because of his profile as a musician and philanthropist, Bono has access to Presidents and other world leaders. What does he do with that access? He shares his vision of a future, and asks for support, including lobbying President George W. Bush for more money for Africa.

Would you think of U2’s Bono as a salesman? He’s one of the best, and it is allowing him to make a greater difference in the world.

If you want to make a difference in the world, you are a change agent, and that means you are a salesperson by definition.

You’re here to make a difference, to live a life of purpose, meaning, and contribution. To do all you are capable of, you are going to need help. The better you are at selling, the greater change you can bring to your life and the world around you.

Selling, at its core, is about helping people change. It is the process of helping people produce better results than they could produce without you. It’s also about helping them take the actions they need to take to achieve their goals and their dreams.

If you want to make a difference in the world, you are a change agent, and that means you are a salesperson by definition.

A Bigger, Better, Brighter Future

One thing that makes you a successful salesperson is helping people obtain a vision of what the future should look like, and how it will be better than it is now. Without that vision and an awareness of what needs to change, nothing happens.

If you are an idealist like me, you have some very strong ideas about the change you want to see in the world. If you want people to support your vision, you need to be able to share a compelling vision of the future, the kind of vision that inspires action.

Speaking of action, the ability to sell is all about taking the necessary steps to bringing that vision to life. That means commitments.

You’re here to make a difference, to live a life of purpose, meaning, and contribution. To do all you are capable of, you are going to need help. The better you are at selling, the greater change you can bring to your life and the world around you.

About the author:

(c) Mike Turner

Anthony Iannarino is an international speaker, sales leader, and the author of the new book The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need. His acclaimed blog draws an average of 50,000 readers every month. He leads a high-performing sales team, speaks to sales organizations nationwide, and teaches part time at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership.

For more information, please visit The Sales Blog.

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