Whenever I update my CV, I wonder whether or not I should mention sales as a skill I have acquired and something I have experience in. I have never worked in a direct sales role, but I believe sales is something we all do in some form or another, in both our work and private life.
Sales is regularly portrayed as either ol’ Gil from The Simpsons, or the pushy guy in the suit, manipulating the prospect until they sign up to buy a few thousand pounds worth of something they really don’t want or need. They explain all the features of the product, why it’s so great, and why it will change their life.
But in my experience, sales is not about selling a product, but more about selling yourself. Yes, some people have the skill to manipulate, but most people nowadays are somewhat impervious to that tactic.
In my job at manc&dandy – the client sourcing agency, when I call a potential client to introduce them to the business, I don’t tell them how much better than other agencies we are, because simply, that’s for them to make that judgement, not me. The only reason someone might listen to what I have to say is if they have an interest in the service we provide.
If a potential client has an interest, then they are not going to decide on the promises I make them, but based on if they feel I can be trusted, and if I really mean what I say. Really, I need to get them to like me.
Adam Raman, Senior Lecturer in Strategy, Marketing and Innovation in Kingston University took our Design Thinking module through some of the background in sales & marketing. He explained that although the difference in sales and marketing is minute, sales is part of the promotional mix of marketing.
The similarities are on display in everyday life.
When we meet people, we tend to show a certain side of ourselves. We show a potential partner that we are funny and kind, a potential employer that we are responsible and capable, and a potential threat that we can defend ourselves.
How we dress, is us trying to display the kind of person we want people to think we are. What kind of phone we have, what kind of car we drive, they all represent who we want to portray to the world.
But when you consider our actions when we are in different situations. In work we might wear a suit to look professional, but in the pub we might wear jeans, to look more laid back. We are always marketing ourselves to the world.
In advertising, businesses do the same thing. A company may adopt one strategy for one platform, and a completely different one for another, because of course, what will work on Twitter, may not work on Instagram, or LinkedIn.
With the evolution of technology, there are huge opportunities to reach your target audience online, but also to portray your brand the way you want to, to the people you want to reach. This is important, not just for companies, but also for us as professionals, as we also have an opportunity to take advantage of the tools available to us within the creative industries.
However, there has to be relevance in what we do. If our intended audience is not on Twitter, then why would it make sense for us to be? We need to decide what works for us, and how it is going to work for us.
And in the end, even if it doesn’t work for us, at least there may be less unnecessary selfies in the world.