I looked up the word sell in the dictionary. This is what it said:
“To persuade (another) to recognize the worth or desirability of something.”
This definition assumes value. It assumes that you recognize the value of whatever it is that you are selling. Inherent in the definition is the concept of worth or desirability.
I also looked up salesperson, saleswoman, salesman, sales clerk and, my favorite, sales talk. The definition for sales talk was, “a line of reasoning or argument intended to persuade someone to buy something.”
Whenever I do a workshop or teleconference, I frequently ask participants, “What are the words that come to mind when you hear the word salesperson?” Invariably, I hear back words like, manipulative, dishonest, unethical and sleazy.
In the dictionary, however, when I looked up all of the above sales words, none of the definitions referenced manipulative, dishonest, unethical, sleazy or anything particularly negative. The language in these definitions was actually quite neutral and several of them spoke of value.
Unfortunately, in our culture, the words sales and sell are viewed with disrespect. The words no longer simply mean to persuade someone of the value of what you are offering. Instead they carry the baggage of images of untrustworthiness and deviousness. This is a misconception that does an enormous disservice.
Far too often, entrepreneurs, business owners and sales professionals buy into this stereotypical image of sales and see the activity of selling as negative and untrustworthy. They feel that if they are selling (or being perceived to be selling), they are doing something that is not quite right or that has the potential to be not quite right.
It’s as if there is a line drawn someplace, but they don’t know where that line is or when they’ve stepped over it. It causes them to be cautious and careful and worry about how they are perceived. This anxiety puts them, in their own minds, at a disadvantage and on a lower level than their prospects and customers. This is a difficult place to be. And it stops many from taking action.
Since the definition of the word sell used the word persuade, I looked up that word in the dictionary. It said: