Why successful selling is not an end but a process

Successful selling is a process. It is about being, not doing. Successful sales managers midwife the being process because they know it inevitably delivers success in the doing. “

You’ve changed. These words are the ultimate validation for the salesperson set to take off. Regrettably, they are words few salespeople get to hear. You see, there’s a mental, emotional and physical cost associated with becoming a salesperson and few are willing to pay it because it dislodges them from, well, themselves.

Selling is a process. Those that weather the storm sell themselves to the sustainable emotional and mental process of being, and not the unsustainable physical arrival of the result (doing). Successful selling is about being, not doing. Here are three examples.

Successful selling is a process pride frustrates

When an institution (say a bank) negotiates to have a sales desk at a premises (say of a large employer), pride won’t let the ‘doing’ salesperson reach out to the staff or woo them over. He will instead reason:  “They have been told there is a sales desk at their premises. If they don’t want to come over and register/buy, shauri yao (that’s their problem)?”  When a pride-powered salesperson is given a lead by his boss, he expects the lead to automatically buy; likewise, when he has pitched only once. 

And why? “I can’t be seen to be following him up like a dog (or asking for the cheque).” Pride is debilitating in sales. Yet it’s not pride, it’s hubris (foolish pride). The kind that leads to complaining that, “Juma stole my sale.” Of course, he did. You warmed up the prospect and left him hanging; Juma was hungry enough to follow up to the close. Being means learning how to stoop to conquer (humility) but not stooping to be kicked on the backside as hubris assumes.

Rejection. The seller’s nightmare.

Rejection is painful. Make no mistake about it. Whether they will admit it or not, the number one reason most people shun selling is pro-active avoidance of that two letter word, NO! For the hawker it shows in your rolling up the window as he approaches; as for the insurance sales agent, it could be, being told “Kageche is not in”,  only for the agent to spot him hiding in the kitchen.

And for the business to business salesperson it could be, being given the run-around after months of negotiations, over signing of the contract to install the generator, only to be casually told, “We bought one three weeks ago. Weren’t you told?” There is no starting by doing in overcoming rejection. You cannot simply brush it off because you’ve been told that’s how it’s handled. Doing so piles it up and soon, “Boom!”-you explode with frustration. Successful selling is a process.

Successful selling is a process

Like one mourning, remaining afloat in an ocean of rejection, means acknowledging the pain and learning to give it a different meaning. It’s most painful when the meaning is personalized. That is, insisting it’s me they are rejecting.  Give it a different meaning, like I suppose a hawker does when you roll up the window and he strolls over to the next car (Oh, well, not today; he must have had a bad day; or, maybe not biscuits today, but possibly he’ll roll it down when it’s lanterns tomorrow, and he’s experiencing a blackout)


Selling is unique. You can delegate a desk job and teamwork can thrive in the hierarchical pyramid. Sales is different. The buck starts and ends with the thriving salesperson. He knows back office is there to support him but he’s also not the King of Wishful Thinking. The salesperson that is doing draws a line where his job (as defined by him) ends.” I brought the contract and processing the order is not my job.” The one who is growing (being) develops relations (sells) internally as he does externally. He invests in these relationships and takes the rap when the client is unhappy, even though it’s not his direct fault. Being, grows the salesperson to take 100% responsibility for the sale. Doing blames.

Successful sales managers efficiently midwife the being process because they know it inevitably delivers success in the doing. And you’ll know when you arrive when you hear the magic words, “You’ve changed.”

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