Selling Shouldn’t Be A Dirty Word

  • Category: Selling

When I was a partner in a global consulting firm, we called anything having to do with sales or selling “marketing”.

I suspect it’s because we were all very proud of our knowledge and experience and selling ourselves seemed somehow cheap and tawdry.

But as I learned from a handful of mentors, selling is not only an essential part of getting to use your wisdom, it’s also a great way to build long-term trust and relationships.

Say what?

The first part of that statement means that if you get good at selling your work, you could do pretty much anything you like.

You could go deep and specialize in any problem frustrating your client base (I got hyper-focused on leading spin-offs and mergers for Fortune 500 companies for example).

Since I didn’t want someone else telling me what to work on, I decided to get good at selling what I most wanted to do.

Which is how I learned the second part of that statement above: that selling—done in your own style and for the benefit of your audience—could actually build trust.

The “secret” turned out to be blindingly simple. You listen carefully, act with complete transparency and do what’s right for the client. Every. Single. Time.

That means things like referring work elsewhere, saying no to bad fits (when you can’t see your outcome matching their expectation) and staying in touch even when there is no potential work on the table.

Selling is not only one of the ways we serve our clients, it’s also how we dish up our authority.

It’s not rocket science. It’s not tawdry. And it definitely isn’t dirty.