Is sale a four letter word?

By: John Harrison
Role: Sales Manager

The Early Days:
As I started my career as a Sales Engineer, I was always sheepish about telling people that I was in sales.  When I met people, I would say that I worked with Lasers, or that I was in manufacturing. I changed my business card from Sales Engineer to Business Development Manager.  When developing a Mission statement at one company, we were careful to avoid the word “sales”, instead replacing it with consultants, solutions partners, and other clever acronyms.

The Facts:
Selling is an integral part of capitalism. Salesmen are the vehicle that takes great ideas and products, and utilizes them to solve a problem. But at some point in everyone’s lifetime, we’ve run into situations where our magic chamois didn’t absorb the 10 gallons of water it said it would. Perhaps our Mega-SUV that was supposed to get 30 mpg. got 28mpg instead. However, if you as the salesmen did a great job in identifying the problem, and you provided the best solution the customer may have other reasons behind their dissatisfaction.

As I look back shortly after receiving my college degree, I recall talk with other engineers about their plans for the future.  Professions such as Nuclear engineer for a public utility, Aerospace Engineer for Boeing, or Automotive Engineer for the big three were the most coveted positions. Talk of being a sales engineer was always an afterthought, and was reserved for those who couldn’t land a “real” engineering job.

In fact, it was my senior project which was a design competition to build a model airplane when I discovered I wanted to become a salesman. Each plane had parameters, and we competed against other schools to see who could fly with the heaviest cargo.  I skipped my graduation ceremony (sorry Mom and Dad) to travel to Wright Patterson Airbase to compete against 150 other teams.  After 2 days of presentations, and 500+ flights, I was mentally fried.  I asked one of the other teams if they wanted to grab a bite to eat and a beer.  They countered by inviting us to their hotel room to analyze the video they had recorded of the presentations and flights; all of them.

So I Ask You:
So, why is it that we can’t be proud of our profession? Why is Selling a four letter word?  As sales professionals, we need to remain vigilant in operating with the utmost integrity, and provide our customers with a service worthy of our compensation.  Every time we don’t, we besmirch the good name of every sales professional.


Any thoughts? Leave them below.

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