For some years I’ve been saying that, as a society, we’re in the midst of a transformation. Given what’s happened in the last couple of years, there’s no one left who is disagreeing with me! It’s become very obvious.
One very noticeable aspect of this transformation is the image change that has occurred with salespeople. If you look at the bestselling sales books currently available, you’ll see salespeople being characterized as significant agents of positive change for companies and even for society. This is a drastic difference from salespeople portrayals as pushy, ugly, brutal, manipulative, difficult, slimy, annoying, dishonest—all the negative traits seen in such films as Death of a Salesman, Tin Men and Glengarry Glen Ross. Authors such as Jeb Blount and Daniel Pink are leading this charge.
Today we’re seeing that modern salespeople should be thought leaders. They should be empathic listeners. They should be intelligent, connect with people, solve problems, build trust, and emotionally create a positive buying experience. They should be competent and authentic. In short, a complete pendulum-swing from the way they were previously portrayed.
Sales Fraud Throughout History
The association of dishonesty with sales goes back hundreds of years, to the merchants in the medieval days of Marco Polo who were regularly cheating buyers. They did this, often, by using incorrect weights that favoured the seller. Such methods of fraud go back even further, and can even be found in the Biblical book of Leviticus: “You must not commit injustice in judging, in measuring, in weighing or in measuring liquids.”
We can remove the religious aspect and just notice that cheating in sales existed and was condemned back that far. Unfortunately, it was not a networked society, and word of sales treachery did not spread in real-time as it would today. Once a merchant cheated a buyer, the buyer never knew if they’d ever see the merchant again. We can see that today avoiding such sales fraud is not only wrong from an ethical standpoint, but from a logical one as well: word of a single instance of deceit in sales can spread throughout the world in an instant.
Effects in The Community
The effects of sales fraud are even more profound, however: they destroy the community. When winning together does not occur in sales—meaning that both sides of a deal, the seller and the buyer, win—a community cannot be built.
What happens in a community when sales fraud is occurring? Let’s say, for example, a contractor building homes in a neighborhood is a bit dishonest. Do you think for a moment that people in that community will not be talking about it? You bet. This contractor, in effect, is actually harming themselves by harming the community.
This demonstrates another reason for “win together” to occur: it strengthens the community.
Roots in Altruism
The concept of “win together” actually has its roots in altruism, which I believe is a natural trait in humans. You will innately treat someone as you want to be treated. This trait is even demonstrated in nature, with monkeys. So we can certainly listen to our inner selves and behave that way, too—and I believe that altruism is the genesis of sales.
I’m not talking about the higher calling of compassion. It’s more like a basic understanding that we’re all in the same shoes. We’re all buyers in some form, aren’t we? None of us wants to be cheated or defrauded. We want to have a “win-to-win.” So why do some salespeople do something to others that they don’t want to do to themselves?
Going back to the title of this chapter, why is it so essential to winning together? Because without it, a relationship can never be built. When only one side is winning, the result is a dysfunctional relationship, which of course is no relationship at all. The elements of such a “relationship” are isolation, disconnection, mistrust, guilt, demotivation, depression, negative mindset, seeing only obstacles, problems leading to frustration, fear, self-loathing, the constant feeling that something must be fixed, and the ever-present expectation to lose.
But what do you gain when both sides win? First of all, respect yourself. Then, respect for the other person, because it’s a good deal. You have open communication, mutually beneficial for both sides. You’re willing to recommend each other. You create self-confidence and hope, and a positive attitude. You have high expectations, and you see more opportunities than obstacles and problems. You can even turn a problem into an opportunity. You build trust in yourself and trust in your customer.
All of this is why we’re putting the “R” back into Customer Relationships. Many CRM vendors believe that customer relationships come about through the use of Artificial Intelligence—something we see as a completely incorrect assertion and assumption. Machines can never replace human beings and can never perform human interaction.
Through relationships, sales can actually restore society, as people start to win together.