Sales is a Dirty Word

I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard. — Estée Lauder
O.K., maybe not sales, but salesman, saleswoman, or salesperson certainly seem to be ‘dirty’ words. Yet sales are the lifeblood of our enterprises. In the Coursera course, Sales Strategies: Mastering the Selling Process, University of Chicago Professor Craig Wortmann talks about some of the stereotypes that exist around entrepreneurs and salespeople. In one of the modules Professor Wortmann does an exercise where he has students close their eyes and do a little word association. He asks students what pops into their minds when he says the word ‘salesperson’? Next he asks what pops into their minds when he says the word ‘entrepreneur’?
As you can imagine for ‘salesperson’ the result is mixed. There are some positives like persistent, charismatic or knowledgeable, but he also gets stereotypical responses like annoying, pushy, aggressive, slick, and sleazy. Contrast that with ‘entrepreneur’ where most responses are positives like risk-taker, job creator, visionary, strategic, and passionate.
Professor Wortmann recommends taking the positive words associated with ‘salesperson’ and the positive words associated with ‘entrepreneur’ and stitching them together. Essentially taking the DNA from salespeople and combining it with the great DNA of entrepreneurs. He notes that great salespeople create win-wins for customers and solve problems for people, just like entrepreneurs do.
I can’t recommend the course enough. It’s five weeks long and Professor Wortmann covers the “Entrepreneurial Selling” process, targeting, lead generation, qualifying, and much more. If you don’t feel like shelling out the greenbacks for a certificate, Coursera gives you the ability to audit the course for free.

You might also like my other book, The Golden Age: 101 Thoughts on Business, Entrepreneurship, Investing & Technology