The Definition of Sales – Professional Selling Defined

Before I define professional selling. Let’s look at some of the related professions. Below are some definitions of professions/occupations that relate to professional selling from Wikipedia:

  • Marketing is defined as an ongoing process of planning and executing the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) for products, services or ideas to create exchange between individuals and organizations
  • Advertising is defined as a form of communication that typically attempts to persuade potential customers to purchase or to consume more of a particular brand of product or service.
  • Public relations is defined as the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its audiences.
  • Sales Promotions is defined as the pre-determined actions designed to increase consumer demand, stimulate market demand or improve product availability for a limited time (i.e., contests, point of purchase displays, rebates, free travel, and sales incentives.)

What about the sales profession?

Notice in the above definitions, the profession is *not* defined as the individual. For example, marketing isn’t defined as “people who market.” Yet, the sales profession is often explained as “individuals who sell.” Therefore, selling shouldn’t be defined in this manner. Notice also, that the above professions are *not* defined by the activities of those individuals. In other words, the profession of advertising isn’t defined as “placing ads on television.” Therefore, selling shouldn’t be defined in this manner.

Academically, selling is thought of as a part of marketing, however, the two disciplines are completely different. Sales departments often form a separate grouping in a corporate structure, employing individuals who specialize in sale specific roles. While the sales process refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, the definition of the sales “profession” doesn’t exist (until now with this article).

So the questions become:

  • Who is “in” the profession and who is not?
  • How does selling relate to marketing, advertising, promotions, and public relations?
  • What shared competencies do individuals within the sales profession need?
  • How do these competencies align to roles in terms of focus and differentiation?

A definition should provide a meaning. To determine the meaning of the sale profession, it is useful to determine what the sales profession *must* contain.

The following three tenets are required for professional selling:

  • The focus of the sales profession centers on the human agents involved in the exchange between buyer and seller
  • Effective selling requires a systems approach, at minimum involving roles that sell, enable selling, and develop sales capabilities
  • A specific set of sales skills and knowledge are required to facilitate the exchange of value between buyers and sellers

Within these three tenets the following definition of profession selling is offered by the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD):

Professional Selling is:

 “The holistic business system required to effectively develop, manage, enable, and execute a mutually beneficial, interpersonal exchange of goods and/or services for equitable value.”

Note: this definition was published by ASTD in 2009.

What does this definition accomplish?

First, it creates a definition of world class selling. An organization wishing to benchmark its selling effectiveness can leverage the above definition to clearly understand strengths and weaknesses. Without such a definition, most adjustments to the selling team are arbitrary and subjective. By understanding the system’s view required for selling effectiveness, organizations can look at indidual sales team members as well as sales team processes and tools and how they align to the buyer.

Second, it allows for more consistent results in performance through the clear establishment of roles regarding who is “in” and who is “out” of professional selling. For example, if it doesn’t involve a human agent, it is not within the sales profession — it’s a marketing function with a transaction (i.e., a “sale”). For this definition, sales operations, sales recruiters, and sales trainers are “in” the profession because they possess unique skills outside of their regular job titles. They posses knowledge and skill that is unique to enabling the definition.

Third, the definition lays the foundation for sales talent management/people strategies. With such a definition, sales development employees can create learning solutions that fit the unique aspects of a sales culture. At the same time, front-end recruitment strategies and more clearly tie to retention strategies.

Fourth, it helps organization on exemplary performance. By setting a bar with such a definition, organizations don’t have to settle for mediocre sales effectiveness. They can use the definition to help bridge the gap between sales capacity and sales team competency.

How to Raise Emotional Intelligence for Increased Sales Performance

Sales and Emotional Intelligence Training for Sales Managers, Sales Professionals, and Entrepreneurs

Research into Emotional Intelligence has shown that there is a strong relationship between this ability and sales performance1. Daniel Goleman then made the concept better known since 1995 with his book by the same name. If you think about it, this makes complete sense. Do you work better when you’re happy, or unhappy? Furthermore, emotional intelligence increases our ability to empathise. This in turn, helps us to understand and sell to our prospects better. Zig Ziglar once said “Selling is essentially a transference of feelings!” Today you’ll learn three ways you can improve your emotional intelligence, which will in turn improve your sales performance.

Emotional Intelligence Tip #1: Put your health first Your emotions will be heavily influenced by the three pillars of health. This includes exercise2, sleep3, and nutrition4. What’s that? You don’t have time for that? That my friend, is exactly why you need to prioritise your health! Think about it – have you ever set out to do sales activities… Only you didn’t? Or, how enthusiastic are you when trying to work after a late night? Your emotional and physical energy levels will directly influence your sales. When your body is deprived of these factors, you simply cannot work at your best. I’ll make my tips for you simple but scientific. Here are three ways you can improve your physical health:

  1. Walk (or jog) outside for 30 minutes a day. You’ll benefit from the physical activity, and the sunlight will also enhance your mood5.
  2. Sleep for 8 hours a day. The reality is that what you do outside of work affects how you perform at work! Because this tip is easier said than done, I highly recommend you check out the book Sleep Smarter for great advice on improving your sleep.
  3. Reduce sugar intake and eat more low GI foods. High GI foods have been correlated with depression and fatigue6. Therefore, you can protect yourself against common negative emotions that naturally arise with sales.

Emotional Intelligence Tip #2: Practice meditation daily Emotional intelligence begins with understanding what you are feeling. By practicing mindfulness on a regular basis, you will more easily identify your emotions. As a result, you will be better positioned to handle those feelings. When practicing mindfulness, listen to your inner-monologue. Are there any negative thoughts or limiting beliefs? Challenge them! Ask yourself questions like “Is there any truth to it?” or “Where did that come from?” If you replace negativity with positivity, you can improve your emotional state and sales performance. By the way, sitting still for more than 3 minutes will probably feel a little uncomfortable! Nowadays, our minds are being constantly stimulated. For this reason, I strongly recommend using an app like Calm or Headspace so you can learn the basics. After one or two weeks of using the program, I recommend you practice mindfulness for 10 minutes a day. Your stress levels will likely drop7 and unlock your potential to sell more.

Emotional Intelligence Tip #3: Empathise through active listening

Empathy is the foundation of emotional intelligence for others. By practicing it, you will better understand other people. With this, you will be better equipped to understand what your prospects are going through, and sell more effectively. To increase empathy, I recommend that you become an expert in active listening. These are the three key components of active listening:

  1. Acknowledgement: Keep eye contact. You can make subtle sound cues like “hmm” or “uh huh” to help your prospect know that you are listening. Nod your head and use other non-verbal body language.
  2. Reflection: Let your prospect know that you understand. You may start your sentences with “So what you are saying is… ” or “Just so I understand… “
  3. Follow-up: Ask related questions to better understand what the prospect is saying. Doing so will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying.

Conclusion

Emotional intelligence is essential for successful sales professionals. The above action steps are simple, but often neglected. I’d like to encourage you to put your health first, practice mindfulness, and empathise more. Doing so will grow your emotional intelligence and subsequent sales performance. Because of the numerous tips provided, choose just one habit to put into practice immediately. You’ll be happy you did!

References

1 Elizabeth J Rojell Ph.D., Charles E. Pettijohn DBA & R. Stephen Parker DBA (2014) Emotional Intelligence and Dispositional Affectivity as Predictors of Performance in Salespeople, Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 14:2, 113-124

2 Edwards, Meghan; Rhodes, Ryan; Loprinzi, Paul (2017) A Randomized Control Intervention Investigating the Effects of Acute Exercise on Emotional Regulation, American Journal of Health Behavior, Volume 41, Number 5, September 2017, pp. 534-543(10)

3 Deliens, G., Gilson, M. & Peigneux, P. Exp Brain Res (2014) 232: 1403. Sleep and the processing of emotions

4 White, D. (2016). Improving Your Emotional Health Through Healthier Eating. Psych Central.

5 An M, Colarelli SM, O’Brien K, Boyajian ME (2016) Why We Need More Nature at Work: Effects of Natural Elements and Sunlight on Employee Mental Health and Work Attitudes. PLoS ONE 11(5): e0155614.

6 Breymeyer KL, Lampe JW, McGregor BA, Neuhouser ML. Subjective Mood and Energy Levels of Healthy Weight and Overweight/Obese Healthy Adults on High-and Low-Glycemic Load Experimental Diets. Appetite. 2016;107:253-259.

7 Jenny Gu; Clara Strauss; Rod Bond; Kate Cavanagh (2014) How do mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction improve mental health and wellbeing? A systematic review and meta-analysis of mediation studies, Clinical Psychology Review, Volume 37, April 2015, Pages 1-12

Bra and Underwear Sales Are on the Decline

Bra and underwear sales are on the decline. The economist gauge our economy by, you guessed it, underwear sales. The economy has been hurting for the past few years. People are buying less and holding onto things longer. However, there are many reasons to buy now.

There are great bra and underwear sales going on. Many companies are having big sales. Lingerie shops have traditionally gone by the suggested retail price recommendations. Recently, they are ignoring them and a price war is going on. These stores need to move inventory and are drastically lowering prices to get rid of their stock.

You need to take care of your health. Elasticity of bras wear out. Support declines with wear. You need to replace your undergarments at least every 6 months. Bras are meant to hold up your breasts. They reduce the bounce and prevent tissue and cartilage damage. Bras help support your breasts and they takes pressure off of your back, too. Newer bras have better elasticity and support than older, stretched, worn out bras. So, ladies do not hold onto your bras. You are stay healthier with newer bras.

Old bras and panties are not sexy. Men are very visual. If you want to keep your man interested, replace your lingerie frequently. Holy, stretched out brassieres and panties are not exciting. New ones also help you, as an individual, feel cleaner and sexier. You may want to try a few different styles and colors, too.

Hanging onto your money during a recession does not support our economy. If you spend, you are keeping the economy moving. Since underwear sales are an indicator of the economy, if you spend money on underwear the economist will say our economy is getting better. Psychologically, you will help others feel comfortable spending; thereby, maintaining jobs in the process and increasing the stock index overall.

The sale of bras and underwear is in your best interest. You can get great value for your money since deals are to be had. Newer bras are better for your health. They will help spice up your love life. Plus, you will be helping well being of our country since underwear is a huge indicator of our financial well being. If you support your girls, you and the world will be better off.