Is “selling” now an offensive term?

I’ve just attended the launch of a brand new networking group targeting SMEs. The “Director Business XYZ” (salesperson) made their introduction stressing that both this and future events will definitely feature “no selling” but plenty of “networking” either side of educational presentations. In fact the host was “selling” the benefits of future attendance but without soiling the atmosphere with the “S” word.

It struck me, if admitting sales intent was akin to harbouring an unhealthy interest in grazing animals or claiming experiences of experimentation by aliens in a spacecraft, why was anyone actually there?

If I want to socialise then bars & friends seem to have that sorted, if I want entertainment then the Arts probably have those bases covered and if I want feeding then Nando’s offers up something more satisfying than the (‘tho rather excellent it must be said’) 10p coin sized individual button mushroom & melted stilton bites.

I appreciate many networking groups are not designed to attract Feature & Benefit laden pitches, a revelation born in the ’70’s. So “No Product Feature Presentations” I can understand on some occasions.

But don’t we PAY £’s to meet as many people as we can, to lead us to others for whom it makes sense to see if there’s a fit between our products/services and their business goals. In my case, I quickly discover that there’s a distinct absence of an orderly queue forming after I burst into a room, therefore I have to do something about it and start selling. I’m not embarrassed about it as that’s what everyone else should be doing too. It’s OK. Really.

Outwardly saying you’re not selling, giving it another name like, let me think, Networking? Then talking about themselves, their products and volunteering unsolicited advice to someone who is too polite to shut you up, isn’t that just really bad, untrained selling?

Selling is about things such as communicating, listening, being adult, understanding & relationships. Now I could happily go along with that over a button mushroom.

If selling is important to your survival but you don’t know what to do or the whole thing makes you so uncomfortable you hate it, invest in someone who can teach you. If I want to go Sky Diving, I don’t watch a video, look out of the window and witness someone else do it then have a go myself, do I?  What if they are rubbish at it? So why risk my own & family’s wellbeing by doing the same with my business as the odds of success are similar?

It’s also OK not to be comfortable being seen in the role of “salesperson”, let’s face it there are PLENTY of examples many people would like to shy away from. One of the best salespeople I ever met was a solicitor. Never in a million years would she have stated she was in sales, but that’s exactly what she was. She was brilliant too. Every person in a business or practice who speaks on an organisation’s behalf is in sales. Full Stop.

I cringe at unprofessional selling, even when they pretend it’s something else by giving it another name. Done well though, you can have a great deal, and your business or home-life could be enriched.

To be good at sales, you really should be able to get along with people as generally we all buy from people we like, who seem to understand us, when it makes sense. But if you feel that’s not you or you are unsure about being :-

  • Comfortable knowing that not every prospect qualifies to be your client
  • Clear about the results you need, then getting out there and making conversations happen
  • Sure what to say and how to say it

………….. perhaps its time to seek solicited advice before buying that jumpsuit on eBay…..

My name is Chris Davies and I’m in the selling business, just like you.

Chris Davies

Chris Davies

Chris Davies has spent over 35 years in both sales and leadership environments with companies such as Sony, Toshiba, IBM and others. Observing first-hand the declining effects of traditional, much copied selling methodologies. Typically, Chris works with business leaders, partners and top producers who are ready to work smarter and commit their time, money and energy to attract new clients, sell more products or services and generate more profits with integrity. Tel: 01525 280777 Mobile: 07891 055925

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  1. Ron Haynes /

    Fantastic article! Although mentioning “Nando” and feeding” in the same sentence reminds me of the 1993 film entitled Alive …
    Here in the States lots of organizations have attempted alteration of their image by changing their name. Multi-Level Marketing has adopted the “Network” Marketing moniker. I’ve seen churches change their name to leave out their denomination or even the word “church.”
    Those seeking to re-title their profession are, of course, welcome to do so but sales will always be sales. I personally think transparency is a better policy than trying to wordsmith your way around what you do for a living. Helping customers discover their own needs through conversational questions that display a genuine interest in them and their business and consequently make a purchasing decision — call it whatever you wish — it’s still sales!
    Again, truly enjoyed the article and your writing style.

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