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  • Writer's pictureLisa Thomson

Sales is not a Dirty Word...

Let's please reframe how we think about "Sales"... (or Business Development if you prefer). As business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders, we all need to sell if we want to survive - whether that be products, services, messages, securing investment or even in relation to our own personal influence and impact.

I am happy to admit that *ten* years ago (hey, maybe more but who is counting?!) when I was still an in house HR professional, I'd have been a very unlikely advocate for sales or BD as a career path and would definitely have struggled to see how I could progress and develop my skills or indeed interests in that route.

Then I set up in business. And I realised that, it doesn't matter HOW passionate, competent, and efficient you may be about and at what you do because unless you can persuade someone to buy from you then ultimately you will not have a business or market without paying clients.

I was very lucky (which I always do remind myself to caveat that I worked hard for!) to have had the opportunity to take part on the Entrepreneurial Scotland Saltire Fellowship programme ahead of setting up my first business Purpose HR. Having built my career to that point as an in house HR professional, the chance to travel to Babson College in Boston and study entrepreneurship, completely out of my comfort zone, allowed me the opportunity to widen my knowledge and understanding of commercial skills, business development and the importance of sales skills and knowledge. I was so grateful to learn from Tim Marken who opened ,my eyes to understand that the most important skills of a good sales person are not (as I had imagined) "gravitas" and "the gift of the gab" but actually great listening skills, empathy, and a desire to help someone solve their problems. All of which were skills and traits I actually possessed in abundance.

So many amazing entrepreneurs I meet and speak with are passionate, innovative and have great ideas and offerings that can help others improve their lives and businesses. But what often holds us back is some kind of fear of pushing ourselves on others or rejection. Or perhaps negative experiences we have been on the receiving end of in the past. When actually what we ourselves are trying to do (when we do it right) is helping someone by providing a solution to a problem they have. We just need to reframe our thinking here.

I now work with my clients to help them develop sales methodologies, processes, offerings and often the confidence to go out and show the world the value they can offer and the pain points they can solve. And I know that unless we can change the mindset around sales to realise that we are not bothering people we are trying to help (so long as of course genuinely we do care about clients and their needs) then we are going to get stuck along the way. Let's reframe our thinking and mindset here and stop limiting ourselves and how we can help our current and future clients.

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