What is Selling?

Bill Abbate

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What comes to mind when you hear the word salesperson? Do you think of a guy selling used cars, timeshares, or someone hawking an off-the-wall product? Better yet, have you ever considered a career in sales or wondered what it would be like to be a salesperson? What if I told you that you already have a sales career and are selling every day? Don't believe it? Let's look at the world of sales and what it entails.

Are you a salesperson?

What makes someone a salesperson? Let's start by defining the word behind it, the act of selling.

The Oxford Languages dictionary defines selling as:

sell (verb) 1. give or hand over (something) in exchange for money. 2. persuade someone of the merits of. Oxford Languages

Whether you are gainfully employed or self-employed, you meet the definition of someone that sells, do you not? Let me explain.

What Are You Selling?

Using the first definition of selling, every employee in any business gives or hands over their time and abilities in exchange for money. While you may not be directly selling the product your company produces, you are contributing to the sale. Since a company must have employees that function in the business, everyone has a hand in what the company sells, no matter how small it may be. Otherwise, why would the company hire you?

The second definition is just as inclusive. Not all selling requires an exchange of money but does involve persuasion. Every human interaction contains some form of it. Without one person influencing another through persuasion, nothing would get done!

When you wake up and go to work every day, someone or something has persuaded you it is necessary to do so. That someone could be your spouse, boss, yourself, or another person. The persuasion could originate as a cultural or societal norm. As well, necessity may have persuaded you to go to work to provide food and shelter for yourself and others. Some of us have persuaded ourselves that it is good to work and it is what we love and want to do.

To sum up, you could say:

  • To earn an income, you sell your time and services.
  • In every relationship, you sell yourself or a version of yourself through persuasion to someone else.

In other words, every activity that involves earning money or interacting with another person is selling. Such is life - working and interacting with other people.

Whether you work in an office environment, in a service job, as a consultant, or in any other profession, you regularly interact with other people. Whether they are a colleague, boss, subordinate, customer, or whomever, you are selling yourself to them, and they are selling themselves to you.

What you are selling could be something as simple as the image projected, the words said, the work produced, or anything else that happens between you and them. You are buying or not buying them, and they are buying or not buying you as a person. There is a whole lot of persuading going on in everyday life!

"Everyone lives by selling something." Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Me, Selling?

Ah, you say, "But what about when I volunteer?" Becoming a volunteer still requires selling. The person or organization you volunteer for must accept you offer something that benefits them, and for you to volunteer, you accept what they are doing. To accept is a form of buy-in; otherwise, why would you volunteer? If they do not buy that you can do the work, why would they want you to volunteer?

So, you say, "Yes, but the selling stops when I go home to my family and on the weekends." Does it? So long as you interact with another human being, selling (persuading) occurs at some level. Your wife and family continually "buy" that you are a responsible, mature, honest, capable person. To maintain this image in their minds, you must present yourself as such. Whether you consciously or unconsciously do so is irrelevant. The fact is that they are "buying" the person you show up as, just as you are "buying" them as the person or people they show up as.

"I have always said that everyone is in sales. Maybe you don't hold the title of salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales." Zig Ziglar (1926-2012)

A final word about selling: always act ethically! Too many people manipulate others by misusing their skills of persuasion. Don't be one of them. Use your selling and all of the skills you possess to improve your life and the life of others. You will live a far more peaceful life and sleep better at night.

Final thoughts

And so life goes. They are selling. You are selling. Everyone is selling. We human beings are more fulfilled when buying and selling, accepting and persuading. It's when someone decides not to buy something that difficulty can begin.

When it comes to selling, one of the truest statements ever made is:

"You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want." Zig Ziglar (1926-2012)

Selling makes the world go around. Why not accept that selling is a part of life, and strive to become the best salesperson possible? You will not only improve your life, but you will improve the lives of all those around you. Now that is a win-win sales situation if I have ever heard one!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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