Bill Abbate

What comes to mind when you hear the word salesperson? Is it a greasy-haired quick-taking guy selling used cars? Maybe it’s a well-dressed smooth-talking couple selling timeshares. Perhaps it’s an old-west snake oil salesman hawking his miracle potion. Although these are stereotypes of salespeople, is there any truth in them?

Or could it be salespeople are ordinary, everyday individuals like you and me?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in sales? What if I told you that you are already in sales and are selling every day? How would you deal with your sales skills? Especially since they determine your career path and future.

Let’s look at the world of sales and what it entails.

What does it mean to be in sales?

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

The dictionary defines selling as:

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

Let’s now consider a few synonyms of selling to gain an even better understanding of its meaning:

  • Persuade
  • Bargain
  • Trade
  • Hustle
  • Convince
  • Transfer
  • Pitch
  • Market
  • Push
  • Barter
  • Merchandise
  • Transact
  • Transfer

Look at that definition and those synonyms again. If you are gainfully employed, whether you work for someone else or yourself, you meet the definition of someone that sells, do you not? You give your services in exchange for money, in effect, selling what you do.

However, it extends beyond those who are working. Selling is pervasive in all of life and exists in every relationship.

The only near exception that comes to mind is a monk isolated on some mountaintop away from all people. Yet, in reality, he sold himself on the idea of being there!

It’s all a matter of what you are selling.

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 directly sell your company’s product, you contribute to the sale somehow. 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 it does involve persuasion. Every human interaction contains some form of it. Without one person influencing another by persuasion, nothing would get done!

“I think the power of persuasion would be the greatest superpower of all time.” Jenny Mollen (1979-present)

When you wake up and go to work every day, someone or something has convinced (persuaded) you of its necessity. That someone could be your spouse, boss, yourself, car payments, another person, etc. The persuasion could even originate as a cultural or societal norm. Necessity may have also 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 that 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 and need, you sell yourself or a version of yourself through persuasion.
  • Someone or something is constantly selling (persuading) you as well.

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

Whether you work in an office environment, in a service job, as a consultant, or in any other profession, you regularly interact with others. 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 sell could be something as simple as the image you project, the words you say, the work you produce, or anything else that happens between you and them. In turn, they are selling to you. You are buying or not buying them, and they are buying or not buying you. There is a whole lot of persuading going on in everyday life!

“Everyone lives by selling something.” Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)


Ah, you say, “But what about when I volunteer?”

Becoming a volunteer still requires selling. Something or someone sold you on volunteering. If they do not buy that you can do the work, why would they want you to volunteer other than for your money? You must accept them, and they must accept you. Accepting is a form of buy-in that comes through persuasion.

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, and 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)

One last thing

The last thing you will find extremely helpful about sales is always to act ethically! Too many people manipulate others by misusing their skills of persuasion. Don’t be one of them. Use your ability to sell and all 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. It is a natural and essential part of every life. Can you imagine a life without buying and selling, accepting and persuading? It’s when someone decides not to buy that the 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 of 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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