By Carolyn Landesman
Sell! Me Sell? I don’t want to learn how to sell or be a marketer!
Yes, I know I can hear you saying these words because you relate selling to being a used car salesperson. What if I could convince you that learning to sell is good for your career, business or even future net worth – wouldn’t you want to at least read on and find out why?
What’s wrong with what you are doing right now?
Probably nothing but here’s a different perspective. We are usually taught go to school, get a good education, get a good job and save for your retirement. So what do we do, we go to school, get a good job, save some money, perhaps even invest in property or shares hoping to get a return on that investment, enough, so that you can retire happily and in comfort.
Sounds too good to true doesn’t it? In many cases, it is too good to be true because we count on our technical skills to get us to where we want to go in life. In order to achieve the goal of retiring in comfort, we make lots of sacrifices usually at the cost of time with family, time doing the things you love, time for relaxation, time for hobbies, health and exercise.
We convince ourselves, if we work harder, pull an all-nighter and put in the extra hours at work we will get noticed. And we don’t! Here’s how investing in selling and other skills can help you.
Investing in human capital
You may or may not have heard of the word human capital.
Human capital is a term popularized by Gary Becker and Jacob Mincer and refers to the stock of knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes of people in business including creativity. Simplistically, when an employee is engaged and love their work, their economic value and output is greater than an employee who is bitter, underwhelmed or bored in the workplace.
Human capital is also the collective resources of an entire workforce, including all their knowledge, talents, skills, abilities, experience, training and wisdom both individually and collectively within the working environment.
By investing in yourself, you create a brighter future for yourself. If you are a business leader, investing in your people will give you a greater return on investment. People who are challenged, empowered and recognized for their contribution are more fulfilled employees.
What do CEO’s have in common?
Exceptional CEO’s have the ability to create a powerful vision for the future and sell that vision to their people. It’s not their technical skills that makes them great, it’s their communication skills.
As Michael Gerber suggests in his book the E-Myth Revisited, no doubt you are good at what you do, your technical skills that is, what you are trained to do. But are your technical skills going to get you to the next level?
You may never want to become a CEO or even own your own business, however you can make the most of what you have right now by investing in yourself. Being able to persuade others (for the right reasons) will get you a whole lot further than purely being a technician.
Regardless of what you do or who you are, you are already in the sales, marketing and persuasion business. You have ideas. You might need a budget for that idea therefore you have to sell yourself and your idea in order to get the resources you need to bring your ideas to fruition.
If you are thinking of starting a business, you may need seed money or have to raise capital at some point to bring your business idea to life. This means being able to sell your ideas and persuade investors or a bank to loan you the money.
As you move through the ranks, your strategy, visionary and strategic thinking skills become far more important than your technical skills. Top of the list is your ability to communicate your ideas effectively. For instance, if you have an idea in the workplace, you need to communicate it upwards. Communicating upwards and sideways is a whole lot different than communicating downwards to someone you manage or supervise.
If your idea has interest from your manager, you now have to sell the idea of getting the resources to be able to implement your idea.
Change management is about bringing new thoughts and ideas to the table and getting people to buy into change. Change management is what CEO’s are good it and it’s their ability to communicate, articulate a vision and persuade others to support them that makes them a great CEO.
It’s not just about a CEO or manager, if you work in a team environment, you have to also be able to sell your ideas across the team for the common good.
Get the picture – of course you do.
And learning how to sell and market (your ideas) will get you there. That’s how you get noticed in the workplace. And sales and marketing skills will help get you there faster.
In addition to sales skills, you also need leadership skills to be noticed in the workplace. This is what CEO’s and successful people have in common. Keep in mind, all leaders started at the same place, as technicians in what they were trained to do. Through the years they developed leadership skills which, like selling skills, can also be learnt.
If you work in a team environment, good teams will debate the issues and see things from another person’s perspective. To pull a team together, where they need to work in harmony, takes leadership skills.
That’s also how you get noticed in the workplace.
I’ve already talked about this. You need exceptional communication and negotiation skills to sell your ideas. You need exceptional communication skills if you are to lead others in a supervisory role (even if you aren’t a CEO or senior manager). You need exceptional communication skills when interviewing for a new job role, you also have to sell yourself why you are the best person for the job.
Again, you get the picture.
Sales, leadership and communication skills are what you need to leverage your employability, and with that your earning power. What I am not talking about, is improving your technical skills. It’s improving upon your technical skills by developing your super skills (sales, communication and leadership skills). With improved communication skills, you will get noticed. When you get noticed you are far more likely to be in line for a promotion.
As you get noticed, your self-confidence increases which puts you in the market to sell yourself into other job roles where you have more responsibility and of course with that comes a greater capacity to earn more.
When you earn more, you have more to invest in savings or other investments giving you greater options down the track. Pure technical skills won’t put you on the fast track – super skills will.
Why investing in yourself leads to promotion
If you earn $50k a year, in 40 years’ time you would have earned $2 million dollars. However, after expenses not much is left to save or invest for your future. Doesn’t it make sense to increase your earning power and the way to do that is to invest in your super skills like, selling, leadership and communication skills. It’s those skills that increase your earning power, not your technical skills.
If you took two people with the same qualifications, same technical skills, one had good communication skills and one didn’t, who do you think is more likely to succeed?
If you invest in your super skills, this is what leads to a promotion and higher earning capacity. It also makes you more marketable for the future.
According to Franklin and Ellsberg, authors of The Last Safe Investment, the average CEO make 380 times the average employee and it’s not their technical skills that get them there. It’s a combination of their leadership and communication skills along with their ability to sell themselves and their ideas that gets them there. They also understand the power of the mastermind, or networking groups that enables them to mix with the right people who can give them a hand up.
Supercharge your employability skills
Once you leave school or college, if you don’t continue to invest in yourself, you become stagnant. That’s okay, if you are okay with where you are in life. Perhaps you have no ambition for yourself or your family. That’s a choice and not one that others have to right to criticize. However, if you want to supercharge your future earnings, investing in your super skills gives you options you probably never thought about.
When you amplify your earning capacity, this leads to more options in your life. One of the fastest way to improve your options is to not only invest in sales, leadership and communication skills, it’s to build your personal networks. People do business with people they like which is why people skills are so important in building personal networks.
Networking when done with an objective in mind, can certainly fast track your future success.
There are two types of networks, those where your values are not aligned and where people are looking to get out more than they put in. You often see this with committees and some work environments where everyone is out for themselves, a dog eat dog environment.
The most powerful network you can build is a mastermind or tribe. This is different, because when you build a mastermind or tribe where your values are aligned, everyone within that mastermind tribe, wants everyone else to succeed. Each person in the tribe is deeply connected with others and concerned about their collective successes. A mastermind group or tribe is far more powerful than ordinary networks because you have each others back.
Over 80% of jobs come through personal and professional networks. Personal references are so powerful in the business world. Think about your own buying habits – when you are not sure where to go or who to buy from, what do you do? You ask your friends and business associates who they would recommend.
In many of my posts, I talk about being able to build trust and rapport, the Bi-Sell-Cycle™, the importance of being an active listener and learning how to ask effective questions. I also talk about the importance of building the social into social media – again for the same reasons. All of these skills are not technical, they are the super skills that will not only help you build networks that help you succeed, these skills help build your personal net worth.
On a final note
When you invest in yourself you are far more likely to become marketable in the future and enjoy increased successes.
In a Nutshell
- Companies who invest in people outperform companies who focus on money.
- Regardless of what you do, you are in the sales, marketing and persuasion business.
- You need to sell your ideas and persuade managers to provide you with the resources to bring your idea to fruition.
- As you move through the ranks, your ability to sell, lead and communication become more important than your technical skills.
- If you don’t keep investing in yourself you become stagnant.
- Building a tribe with people who share the same values is omnipotent.
- Building up your super skills makes you more marketable in the future.
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