The more time you spend selling, the worse you get at sales

Confession time. I have been in this profession for over 25 years and when I look back to my early days in New York City, starting my first business at 23 and thinking I knew it all, I realise…I did. I knew, instinctively, all I needed to know to sell.

I know. I know. If you’re anywhere near my age, you will be sat there making all kinds of faces. “Seriously?” you might be saying. But I’m not making this statement lightly. Let me explain.

For me, back in New York, my sole focus was on creating something different with the Client (note I use the word “with”). The more involved the Client was, the bigger the buzz for me. It is an extraordinary and hugely rewarding experience when you get to this point with your Client. But it is rare.

My ability to do this was not based on any formal training as such. I was blissfully ignorant. And that helps. I was not constrained by inhibitions of what may or may not work and what I should or should not do. Say or not say. Be or not be. There was only one thing driving me. And it was like a drug. It was seeing THAT smile on my Client’s face. Not just any smile, but the kind you see on a 5 year old when they invent something that to an adult is so obvious but to them is pure genius. That unadulterated, unencumbered smile when something new is revealed. The knowledge that I was somehow responsible for helping unlock that solution or understanding was intoxicating.

It seems to me that the more “sophisticated” we become with selling techniques, the more we learn about re-engineering a vision or how to convert the implied need into an explicit one, the further we risk travelling away from what I believe makes an exceptional sales professional.

What makes an exceptional sales professional? All those things we can wrap under “instinct” and that we lose the more time we spend selling — listening, silence (not to gain power but to obtain alignment), inquisitiveness, tolerance and creativity. Unfortunately, most of us need to work on regaining the skills that once came instinctively to us but that have dwindled away, little by little, in the name of sales progress.

So what makes you an exceptional sales professional?