Everything Is Sales
Those that can sell have the world at their fingertips.
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“Sell Me This Pen”
In this memorable scene from The Wolf of Wall Street, Belfort (DiCaprio) uses a pen to teach the most valuable lesson in sales: show the customer that you have something they need.
The problem is most people don’t realize “who” is a salesman, and “who” is a customer.
The Used Car Salesman Dilemma
“Sales” gets a bad rap, for good reason. We think about the used car salesman who tries to rip you off. The Northwestern Mutual rep who wants to sell you an unnecessary life insurance policy. The Jehovah’s Witness missionary who shows up at your front door trying to promote their religion.
The ulterior motive is obvious. They want to use you to hit some target.
When you want a $15,000 Camry and the agent tries to show you the $28,000 Avalon, you grow apprehensive. When you want to discuss investment vehicles with a Northwestern rep and they keep pushing unrelated products, you decide not to purchase anything. When someone tries to shove a religion down your throat on Saturday morning, you become unlikely to ever listen to their message.
Bad salesmen make customers feel like they are the product.
Great salesmen show customers that they need to buy the product.
Elite salesmen are so good that you never realize they’re selling anything at all.
Everyone is a Salesman, Most Never Realize It
There are plenty of jobs where “sales” is in the name of the position:
Used car salesman
Medical device sales
Here are some other sales roles:
Attorneys have two different customers: potential clients and juries/judges. They have to convince a client that they are the best option to handle their case, and they have to sell their client’s case to the judge.
In a world with limitless forms online of entertainment and 30 second attention spans, both writers and TikTok influencers have to convince internet users that their time is best spent on their products. If you can’t captivate a viewer in 15 seconds and hold their attention, they’ll be back mindlessly scrolling on Instagram.
The richest professional athletes are the ones that best leverage their ability for sponsorship deals. Roger Federer made $90M last year. $300k of that $90M came from playing tennis. The other $89.7M? An apparel deal with Uniqlo…
… and an equity shoe deal with On Running. The same On Running that just went public at a $7.4B valuation 🤯
“Financial analyst can’t be a sales role, it’s just analyzing spreadsheets.”
Sorry, random internet commenter that I created for the sake of this dialogue, you’re wrong.
You are constantly selling yourself to your boss and coworkers. You think your job doesn’t involve sales? Try getting a promotion without having a story explaining why you’re the right candidate for the role. Your story is your sales pitch.
Dating apps are the biggest sales ecosystem in the world. Users view your profile for ~ three seconds to decide if you’re a good match. Hinge makes elevator pitches look like university lectures.
Everything is sales.
Three Levels to Sales
Selling a Product
This is what most people think of when they hear “sales”. You could be selling payroll solutions, medical devices, or paper from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
No matter what you’re selling, the pitches all use the same base argument.
I have a thing. Here’s why you need my thing. Here’s why my thing is better than competitors’ things.
Selling a Service
Defense attorneys, orthopedic surgeons, and stock trading gurus are all selling services.
“I have settled 95% of my clients’ cases out of court, and I can do the same with you.”
“I repaired Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone, and he returned to win an MVP.”
“I made 4000% on the market last year, and you need to join my private Discord group to follow my trades.”
Regardless of the service provided, selling a service boils down to a simple pitch.
“This is what I do. I’m really good at what I do. Your life will be better if you ‘hire’ me.”
This is the one that most people miss. Product and service sales are obvious. If your income isn’t tied directly to one of the prior options, you likely think that sales don’t affect you. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead of showing clients why your product or service is better than your competitors’, you are showing your target audience why you are better than everyone else.
Applying to business school? Why should we accept you over another qualified applicant?
Trying to get recruited for college football? How are you going to help our program?
Seeking a job promotion? How will you help our team achieve more?
Exploring the dating world? Why are you better than thousands of other guys/girls in your city?
Your story is your sales pitch. A good story turns dozens of accomplishments into one beautiful narrative.
Individuals who never figure out their story will always be at a disadvantage.
The Issue with Builders that Can’t Sell
If a tree falls in the middle of the forest, but no one is there to hear it, did it make a sound?
If you build an incredible product, but no one knows about it, does it exist?
Two questions, same energy. Gifted engineers who can’t promote their product will never sell anything. Incredible job applicants who can’t dictate their story won’t get the job. Talented athletes who never get seen by college scouts won’t play Division 1. Having something sellable is important, but it’s irrelevant if no one knows about it.
Delivery Separates the Charlatans from the Champions
If you tell a great story, you have to deliver. What separates Elon Musk from Trevor Milton? Musk makes bold claims about his electric vehicle company but he delivers.
Milton made bold claims about his electric vehicle company, and it turns out that they pushed a semi truck down a hill for a promotional video. Gravity power, the newest way to fight climate change.
Musk is the richest man in America. Trevor got charged with securities fraud. Selling your story is an integral part of success, but it only works if your product is worth buying.
If your resume says you’re fluent in Spanish, you better be able to communicate when your interviewer switches languages. If you say you were a college athlete, your roster picture needs to exist online. And if you have Harvard Business School in your CV, you better not be one of those losers who just took one online HarvardX course in 2019.
Everything is sales. Everyone is a salesperson. The winners are those that build what their target audience wants, and convince them that they want it.
Have a great Monday 🤝