Day 2: My Paradigm Regarding Sales

First things first: what is a paradigm?

Learning about paradigms has been the biggest eye-opener I’ve experienced in the last 6 months. This is a life-changer for me.

Every belief I have has been passed on to me from someone else. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t have any control over what I believe. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be thinking and changing today. But think about it: everything you believe came from somewhere, right? You speak English because your parents spoke to you in English. You walk on two feet because you were taught that’s how to walk. I think I’m nice because my whole life people told me I was nice. I accepted that and I became it. And I really am very nice 😉

A paradigm is a multitude of habits that controls every single action and moment you take. The fact that you put your left shoe on before the right…or that you HAVE to have coffee before you do anything else in the morning…these are paradigms that you have chosen.

Paradigms are both positive and negative. Some paradigms improve your life, and others hold you back.

I have a negative paradigm that tells me salespeople are bad. And I really want to change this.

So I’m reading an article called “3 Steps to Change a Paradigm” by Bob Proctor:

“It’s time to address your paradigms and ask “why?” Ask yourself, “Why do I think this? Where does it come from? Where did I get such an idea?”

Why do I think badly of salespeople? What thoughts come to mind when I think of sales?

  • greedy
  • lying
  • sneaky
  • shifty (okay, I had to look that one up – I knew it meant deceptive!)

I guess that’s it. Now that I have to really think about it, I’m not so sure why I’m so wary of salespeople. Funny what you realize when you think!

What do I think is going to happen if I talk to a salesperson?

  • They’re going to trick me!
  • They’re going to trick me into giving them my hard-earned money!
  • They’re going to pull one over on me, convincing me that they know more than me, and I’ll be a fool, blinded by their promises and waking up tomorrow with “what was I thinking?”

Has this happened to me before?

  • Actually, yeah – a coworker fast-talked me into joining the rest of the group in a “steal” of a deal on bed sheets that were supposed to be, in her words, “ah-maz-ing.” They weren’t, at least not to me.
  • I can’t think of another example

So what’s really going on here? Well, in a future blog I’ll tell you about my journey to recovery from codependency and what I’ve learned about self-esteem…until then, let me tell you that a person with high self-esteem wouldn’t worry about getting tricked. I think maybe I’ve spent so many years assuming that I’m at risk, that salespeople are a threat to me…and I’ve lived with this assumption for 33 years…!

Well, not anymore!

I’ve actually worked in sales, not directly or solely, but my work-study job in college had me cold-calling fashion companies and asking them for donations to our non-profit campus boutique. I was even the top performer for 7 months straight! So how could I do that and hate sales?

My paradigm would argue, “It’s not sales if it’s a non-profit. You were only asking for donations, duh.”

Okay, fine. My current job gives me the option of making sales, which I have done a handful of times. How can I live with myself??

In each of those times, I didn’t lie to anyone. I believed in what I was telling them. I had a very pleasant experience with the buyers. Quite simply, they wanted what I had to offer. In exchange for money, I gave them access to our products, platform, and service, and they have benefitted from it. Wonderful!

So guess what: I’m in sales and I’m not shifty. How do you like that, paradigm?

Sure, there will be shifty salespeople out there. But…(1) they aren’t a threat to me because I AM capable of thinking twice about if I want or need or can afford what they’re selling – I’m not at their mercy as a helpless chump. And (2) I am allowed to say no. No one is holding a gun to my head to buy anything. I do have the option to say “no thank you!” Heck, I even have the option to say “please go away.” Ha! Take that!

Okay, so I’ve protected myself from shifty salespeople. But I want to go deeper. Let’s talk about what I really think of salespeople. Like…what kind of person goes into sales? Why on earth would you want to be in sales?? My paradigm has its hand raised: “I know, I know! Greedy, pushy, attention-seeking people!”

Is that the truth?

Attention-seeking…maybe. I’ve known some salespeople who missed their calling in acting. They seem to want to win you over with their performance. Ew. Are they a threat to me? Are they a threat to anyone? Of course not. My paradigms just have me noticing this kind of act…probably because I’ve been in acting and I want to act but I don’t want people knowing that so I just make fun of people who act the way I’d like to act! Whoa! Somebody call Frasier Crane, I’ve had a psychological breakthrough!

…moving on.

My dad is in sales! When he was laid off from his printmaking job of 20+ years, he had to get a new job. Mom told him this was a blessing in disguise, that he has a chance to do something brand new. This was in 1996, when he got his first cell phone. He was ob-sessed. We told him if he loved cell phones so much, he should – that’s right – sell them!  Would I call Dad greedy, pushy, attention-seeking? I really wouldn’t! But I can tell you that because he loved them so much, it’s no wonder he was consistently the top salesman. He genuinely just wanted to talk to people about cell phones all day.

I’ve been listening to Bob Proctor’s Mission in Commission series, and I love it. Mostly because it’s turning my paradigm on its head. He says selling is not something you do TO a person, it’s something you do FOR a person. He says really good salespeople are selling all the time. They truly believe in their product or service, and they’re enthused to tell the world about it!

That’s all they’re doing!

I can do that! I’m doing it now! By blogging every day, I’m selling my readers (and, quite honestly, myself) on these ideas.

Um, guess what: we’re all selling something. All the time.

What are you enthused about? What do you put out there in the world for others to see and hear? That’s what you’re selling!

Think about what you posted on Facebook today. Were you griping about politics? Boom – you’re selling the idea that it’s bad to vote for so-and-so, or good to vote for the other so-and-so. Did you post a picture of the dinner you made? I’ll tell ya, when I do that, I’m trying to sell people on the idea that I’m a good cook. (I really am! I believe it and I’m enthused to tell the world about it!)

What did you say to your coworkers today – that you’re tired? That you love your kids but they drive you crazy?  Thank God It’s Friday? What do you think you’re selling when you say these things?

If it goes that good salespeople are selling all the time, that they live and breathe and are excited to talk about what they’re selling…so it goes that what you’re so excited about and talking about is what you’re selling. Everyone is already selling something simply by talking about it. Talking is promotion.

So I really have no reason to hate, or be wary of, salespeople. I want to believe that people who sell are performing a service, and that they want to help you. My mom once told me that without salespeople, we could be missing out on really understanding a product or service. Salespeople KNOW what they’re talking about, and they want to share that knowledge with you. And shouldn’t they deserve to be compensated for their knowledge, and sharing, and the time they take to learn and share?

I am no longer intimidated by salespeople. If I am interested in what they’re selling, I can choose to listen to them. If I decide it’s not for me, and if my intuition tells me something’s not right, and if I’m annoyed by their acting skills…I can choose to say “no thanks” and move my body elsewhere.

And can I get into sales? Absolutely! But only if I’m selling something I believe in. (I can’t sell credit cards to bra buyers at a certain gigantic women’s lingerie store. I lasted less than a week at that job).

So now that I know how I’ve been programmed to think about sales, the last step in changing this is to “create an affirmation that will assist you in re-programming your mind, something that is the opposite of your paradigm. Write your affirmation on a card and repeat it daily.”

I am so happy and grateful now that I am aware of the value of salespeople. I appreciate salespeople for knowing what they know and being available for me to ask questions and learn about something that might or might not benefit me.

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