I’ve Been in Professional Sales for 20 Years and Never Sold Anything

When I graduated from college, my first job was working with a technology company for converting paper to digital images. We would provide scanners and customize the software for companies who were entering the digital world and help with their paper workflow. 

A colleague, at the time, took me under his wing to show me "how it was done." I was grateful and quite honestly needed the help. 

In our first meeting, the client stated they had high volume paper output and they needed a workflow solution to help with the process. My colleague presented the client with one option and explained how the paper scanner could help solve their problems and showed a brief demonstration. 

The next thing he did would change my career path forever. 

He said, “If you buy today, you can get the best deal we have to offer, and I’ll throw in some free time with our technicians to get you up and going.” They purchased the machine on the spot. 

I was a bit confused. What had I just witnessed? I realized the solution they were buying would not solve their issue long-term. Likewise, I realized I felt insecure to speak up. We had the right solution, to improve their process, and never offered it. 

When we returned to the car, he looked at me and went to give a high five. He then explained the sale he made ensured his bonus for that month. I went home that night, feeling guilty I did not speak up in the meeting and wrote down this one sentence. 

"Never Sell Anything to Anyone." 

Let me take a moment to clarify something. I love professional sales. It’s a problem-solving role that changes daily, rarely slows down, and has allowed me to help more people and grow professionally and personally than I ever imagined. 

What this one engagement taught me is people are looking for real solutions and if you are focused on the sale, you are not focused on the real problem(s) that people need to solve. It's short-term vs long-term thinking. 

There will never be a shortage of problems to solve. 

When you put yourself in the seat as a problem solver it can feel uncomfortable. I think the number one thing to remember is when you are supporting people, selling a widget does not build a relationship of trust or expertise. 

Solving real problems can give people more than a product or solution. It can give credibility within an organization, improve a process, provide peace of mind, and even create a professional relationship that can last a lifetime. 

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch 

I'm proud to work at Hallmark Building Supplies where one of our core values is, our success depends on how much we care for our customers, each other, and our suppliers. In other words, we care about solving problems for people, with the right solution, and are not afraid to be honest when our solution is the wrong fit. 

What situations have you been in where you were being sold something instead of having your problem solved? I’d love to hear about it.

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