Sales: The Real Oldest Profession (Introductory Chapter to “The Salesman Against the World”)

In the annals of history, one common philosophy, one common thread and one common attribute binds together multiple facets of all professions, walks of life and means of communication. That commonality, pulsating through every vein of humankind is the psychology of sales.
While the pushy and the unethical in the trade give the love a bad name, “sales” itself is a necessary trait in communication – business and personal – and its characteristics are woven deeply into the very fabric of our existences.
Sales is the oldest profession in the world because it is in who we are, what we do, how we act and how we go about our daily lives.
Basic communication in business and personal relationships boils down to listening, asking specific questions, and learning how we can cure what ails those who come into our lives. Whether we are teaching or being taught, providing a customer service or receiving one, or we are enjoying some of the finest things in life, sales is involved – be it out in the open or behind the scenes.
To teach others, in whatever setting, the audience must be considered – what do they need? How can I meet those needs? From there, follow-up is required – is the curriculum taking care of the clientele in the best means possible?
To provide a service – hotel, restaurant, automobile – the potential customer is the central figure of the universe. What are they looking for in accommodations, amenities or appetizers?
Then, the “selling body” – be it a university, a hotel chain, restaurant chain, major corporation or a Mom and Pop store – must show that potential customer that they are the winning choice. They have to prove themselves to be the best fit for that need.
Supply and demand has been around since the dawn of time. The gathering and hunting, bartering and trading, negotiations amongst peoples – these are common themes in all eras of mankind. Sales tactics and techniques, listening, communicating and putting the “customer” at ease that we have their best interests at heart, understand their situation and are the answer when it comes to satisfaction of said needs go hand in hand.
Whatever profession you are in, whatever relationships you are a part of and whatever your daily routine, these same principles will be utilized regularly. You may think you want to distance yourself from the sales game, but that is where you are wrong; the day will never arrive where we are no longer called upon to sell something to someone. It could be selling your significant other on the restaurant for the evening, your child on using the potty as opposed to his/her diaper to do their business, or dazzling a potential employer to hire you – face it: that is sales.
The best at it can create a lot of opportunities in his/her life, so, no matter what your calling, station in life or aspirations, you should never stop striving to learn and conquer the selling game.
At its core, like the world we live in, sales is an honorable domain – a psychology and human understanding so intertwined with our daily lives that its essence is evident in many of the things we do and say.
While the world is full of evil elements and decay, you can put the windows down and drive south on the interstate with the sunlight beating down and the wind in your hair and all of those things go away – if even for a moment. There is enough beauty in the world to keep ourselves waking up every day. There is enough beauty in sales to keep us waking up to it every day as well; sometimes we just have to look a little harder to find it in the people we work with, the lessons we’ve learned and successes we’ve achieved.
Capitalism in its purest, utopian form makes our world function monetarily; supply and demand, meeting customer needs and servicing the customer effectively and with care keep the machine finely tuned. However, just like the world, when the seven deadly sins – namely greed – enter the picture, anything can take a turn for the worst.
It is our duty, as noble knights of the selling profession, to keep honor in the game. True salespeople are not cheaters, not liars, and not human manipulators; they are listeners, they are givers and they are more concerned with putting the needs of the many in front of their own. Unfortunately, there are a lot of unscrupulous salespeople, managers and above in the selling game. Our prime directive, however, is to maintain discipline and integrity and ethics in what is a sometimes dirty game.
Just as the world is not inherently bad or evil, neither is sales. A few bad apples give the orchard a lousy name. Always remember: we have a holy trinity of sales to satisfy on every transaction – be it a solitary call or visit, a negotiation or a long-lasting relationship. The customer, the company and the salesperson must be satisfied on every deal; short-change any of those three and the result is an unhealthy sales balance. Someone unnecessarily suffers.
Many companies talk out of both sides of their mouths; they dismiss shady selling out of one side, but on the other they promote it by doing nothing about it or commending great performances that were brought about unethically. Stay strong. Find ways to creatively weave everything into your arsenal without crossing the line. Once you cross, there is no going back. And superior, ethical sales can be accomplished.
Remember: we are compensated to make money for our company. This does involve knowing all of the nooks and crannies and idiosyncrasies of the playing field. It can involve manipulation of the playing field – but never manipulation of the customer or company.
Much of sales can be the words we choose to use, handling sales objections, overcoming fear and usage of statistics to further our cause of satisfying that holy trinity. However, when you start skipping steps, when you bend the rules, fudge the numbers, tell half-truths and slick your way to the sale, no one wins.
Think about it: sure, you may get to mark that stick tally on the board today and ring the bell. You may get that pat on the back from your boss. But when the product or service fails to deliver for the customer, who wins? When you or your company or your goods get a bad name because of that failure, who wins? What will be the potential fallout in the black eye of a faulty reputation?
The best salespeople see the big picture of all of their words, actions and strategies. And, in the end, no one wins (least of all the honor of the selling game) if you or anyone else gives sales a bad name.
Treat the selling game well and it will reciprocate.

About cvheady007

I am a Christian, Husband, Dad, workaholic and author. Biography Carson Vincent Heady was born in Cape Girardeau, MO, graduated from Southeast Missouri State University and moved to St. Louis in 2001. He has served in sales and leadership across Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Carson is best-selling author of the Birth of a Salesman series, the first book of which was published by World Audience Inc. in 2010. He released The Salesman Against the World in 2014, A Salesman Forever in 2016 and Salesman on Fire in 2020. He is also featured in Scott Ingram’s B2B Sales Mentors: 20 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals. Carson is a 7-time CEO/President’s Club winner across 5 roles at AT&T and Microsoft and National Verizon Rockstar winner. He has been recognized as a top social seller at Microsoft and is consistently ranked in the top 25 sales gurus in the world on Rise Global. He is included among the Top 50 sales authors on LinkedIn. With over 330K social followers, Carson has also been interviewed on over 30 sales and leadership podcasts, by such luminaries as Jeffrey & Jennifer Gitomer, Jeb Blount, Brandon Bornancin, Sam Dunning, Larry Levine, Darrell Amy, Scott Ingram, Thierry van Herwijnen, Jim Brown, Sam Jacobs, Luigi Prestinenzi, Donald Kelly, Marylou Tyler, George Leith, Pat Helmer, Eric Nelson, Ron Tunick, Jeff Arthur, Mary Ann Samedi, Jean Oursler, Andre Harrell, Marlene Chism, Bill Crespo, Matt Tanguay, Josh Wheeler and Chad Bostick. He has also co-hosted the Smart Biz Show on EG Marketing Radio. His articles have appeared in several noteworthy publications such as SalesGravy, Smash! Sales, Salesopedia and the Baylor Sports Department S3 Report. Carson lives in St. Louis, MO, with his wife Amy and daughters Madison, Sidonia and Charlotte.
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