Selling is definitely not something we learned in school. We learned how to work–and how things work–when we actually start working. We emerge from business school “book smart” but not always street smart. It then becomes our responsibility to figure things out–a gap that comes at a cost to us and the companies that hire us. Here are three tips to bring you up to speed:
1. Focus on interpersonal communication. I hate hearing these invaluable professional strengths called “soft skills.” They are life skills and should be part of every schools’ curriculum, but until it is, organizations must teach new salespeople how to communicate with others, resolve differences, navigate organizational politics and “sell” their ideas within their own companies.
2. Change the stereotype. People picture the stereotypical used car salesman. And, believe me, I know why. I drove the same car for 13 years to avoid going through the harassment and intimidation again. Yet, when I ask people to think of a an excellent sales experience, I always get the same answers: The salesperson asked good questions, listened to my needs, was respectful and provided thoughtful solutions.
3. Teach everyone to sell. As schools graduate more technical professionals, the problem will loom even larger. This is a challenge for professional firms today: Organizations need every team member, not just the salespeople, to be focused on selling.