I was meeting a colleague for coffee earlier this week and as we sat there talking, a friend of one of his kids came up to him to say hello. She was cheerful, bright, and well dressed. I could tell that she was fresh out of college and obviously working so as my friend introduced us, I casually asked her what she did for work. I was somewhat surprised by her response as she proudly and enthusiastically proclaimed that she was a “Sales Professional”.
Yes, you read it right, she said very confidently with a big smile, “I am a Sales Professional”.
At first I found it odd that she didn’t say Account Executive or Account Manager or any of the other multitude of self-satisfying titles that are often bestow upon sales folks, but the more I thought about it I realized that she was extremely proud of her position and the fact that she was a “Sales Professional”.
For most of us in sales, selling became a career by default. Unlike a fireman, a professional athlete, or even a doctor, sales wasn’t something that we aspired to as a little kid. We were either pushed into it because its what one or both of our parents did or because it was the only available position at the time. No matter the reason or rational that led you into sales, for many it was or is, just a job and one that was never considered a career profession.
Selling is an honorable profession and it’s time to take pride in what we do and how we go about it. It’s time to put the PRO (as in PROFESSIONALISM) back into the Sales Profession.
The dictionary defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person”. If I’m reading this correctly, the term Professionalism in sales has nothing to do with what you sell, whom you sell it to, what company you sell for, or even how long you have been selling. It’s about your state of mind and your conduct as a person. In other words, it’s not what you do, but how you do it.
Professionalism means many different things to people. For me, professionalism in selling comes down to, Commitment, Competency, and Consistency.
Commitment to yourself, the company you represent, and to the clients you serve. It takes commitment to preserver when things don’t go your way. It requires a commitment to integrity to do the right thing at just the right time. It also requires a commitment to the profession and to giving back to those that will follow in your footsteps.
Competency means not just doing the job but doing the job well. It means striving for excellence and being the very best sales professional you can possibly be. In sales, competency is about always being prepared, being intentional, and purposeful, in our actions. Competency also means keeping your knowledge and skills up-to-date. It’s about building and expanding your expertise, through continuous improvement and continuously learning the craft.
Professionalism in selling is not a one-time event. It requires consistency in your actions, efforts, attitude, and motivation. It involves consistency is the sales process, consistency in asking for commitments, and consistency in delivery results. The power in consistency is that you ultimately become a consummate professional.
Being in the sales profession is easy. Displaying professionalism and being a true sales professional is hard. True sales professionals hold themselves accountable, take personal responsibility, and take pride in every aspect of what they do and how they do it. Sounds to me like selling takes commitment, competency, and consistency, or as I call it Professionalism.
Do you have what it takes to put the PRO back in the sales professional? What’s your level of professionalism? How do you measure up?
Thoughts, Comments . . .