Have you, too, been hearing a lot about the “Great Resignation?” 

Depending upon the survey you reference, it is projected that 25% to 40% of employees are thinking of quitting their jobs – rather than return “back to normal.” 

Are you included in these survey stats? Has the pandemic inspired you to rethink how you work? Have you (or are you still) contemplating what “back to normal” means and if that’s something to which you want to return? 

Workforce trends are continuously shifting. But I am particularly fascinated by what’s afoot currently. I don’t have any scientific evidence, but it feels like this one is being driven less by technology or upper management, and more by the personal needs and preferences of the non C-suite employees.

And sure, not everyone is resisting the call to return to the office; some people are itching to get back. But, for a host of reasons, some people would rather opt-out and pursue something different and/or something elsewhere than to go “back to normal.”  

On behalf of these folks, I’ve been thinking how this is such a perfect time, culturally, to reimagine how we work – in all its dimensions, including when and where. This is a great opportunity to reframe what engagement looks like and expand the list of factors that influence project assignments, promotions, and compensation considerations – for employers (if you employee team members) and for employees. 

Yet, in the midst of the “Great Resignation” and what I’ve dubbed a “great work reset,” there’s something that hasn’t changed: The need to sell!

So, today we’re revisiting the topic of selling through the lens of the message behind the idea you’re pitching, product or service you’re selling, or position you’re targeting (e.g. in a company or on a board).

Process Before Skills

Are you one of those people who enjoys and embraces the sales process? 

Or, do you despise it and find it uncomfortable because it conjures up images of the sleazy used-car salesman?

Today, I am in the former camp. But, that wasn’t always the case, which, at the risk of stating the obvious, isn’t good when you own a business.

It took me more years than I care to admit to understand this…

Your ability to sell has everything to do with your relationship to selling.

So, if you have a funky relationship with selling, you’re going to have a harder time than perhaps is necessary getting people to buy into your message — and embrace your idea; buy your product or service; view you as the best candidate for the open position or board seat; or accept your pitch for a new project or round of investment dollars.

First, what’s getting in the way?

Let’s talk about certain beliefs and behaviors that can get in your way of selling your message, successfully:

Selling feels manipulative

A lot of people have a negative connotation about selling because of an annoying, inauthentic and aggressive experience they’ve had being on the other end of a sale. This is the reputation sleazy used-car salesman tend to have.

Of course you don’t want to be seen in this light. So if the act of selling feels manipulative to you, you run the risk of letting your fear of being perceived this way overshadow your excitement about you’re selling.

Selling feels intrusive

Sure, there are those rare occasions when someone buys what you’re selling (aka: your message) immediately. More often than not, though, it takes time. The intervening days, weeks, and maybe even months or years are filled with repeated emails and phone calls.

If selling feels intrusive to you, you likely equate the tasks of following-up with being a pesky pain in the butt. Thus, you don’t do it. Thus, you run the risk of never closing the sale.

Selling amplifies your fear of rejection

Despite being told numerous times not to take someone’s “no” personally. It’s hard not to; after all, it is part of human nature to want to feel accepted.

What you’re selling is personal – it is what you want to be known for; it’s your message. 

So, getting your message out in the world means exposing yourself — your beliefs, your perspective, your values. That means opening yourself to being judged and evaluated.

If selling amplifies your fear of rejection, and you shut down because you don’t want to feel the sting of failure in this way, you run the risk of your message (in whatever form it takes) not having as much impact as it could.

Second, sharpen your skills

Reimagining how you work isn’t for the faint of heart. Doing so places you firmly in the middle of a bridge as you travel from what you know to what you are creating anew. It’s a journey that will require you to sell your message, well! And, you might need to sharpen a few skills – like those below – along the way: 

Focus on your mindset

Are you trying to convince or invite someone to do something? You may consider this semantics, but I know when I shifted from thinking, ‘I’m trying to convince someone to buy from me,’ to, ‘I have something awesome to offer and it will help them…,’ selling became easier and a lot more fun.

Know what comes after “no” or “no, not now”

This is not to suggest you have a defeatist attitude. Rather, it is to suggest you have a plan for what you’re going to do if your “buyer” doesn’t buy into your message immediately. What, if anything, will you adjust? And, why?

Create a flexible strategy and plan

Yes, use a framework. It will keep you anchored as you work to sell the message behind the idea you’re pitching, product or service you’re selling, or position you’re targeting. However, don’t make the mistake of following a cookie-cutter approach. It is better to develop the discernment to know when and how you need to tailor your message and/or your approach to meet your “buyer” where they are, so you can move them to the action you want them to take.

Ask for what you want!

If this seems obvious, I invite you to take a quick walk down memory lane to recount the number of times you didn’t do this. Sure, you insinuated. But you didn’t directly ask your “buyer” to take the next step.

Someone’s Gotta Move

Even if the “Great Resignation” doesn’t affect you directly, it’ll likely do so peripherally. That makes this a perfect time to quote Daniel Pink, the author of To Sell is Human, “We’re in the business of moving others.”

Gosh, isn’t this true as you think about the current trends and the questions they prompt about how you’re working, and whether that is aligned with how you really want to work? Because if there’s a disconnect, getting to a place of synchronicity will require “moving others” via how you sell, in general, and sell your message, specifically.

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