All Commentary
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Who’s Selling You?

Artists need agents. Inventors need salesmen. Who's advocating for you every day?

Do you desire great things for yourself?

I’m not talking about achievement without merit. You’ve been striving, creating, and hustling like a marmot out there in this world. Busting your ass at work, streamlining procedures, inventing cheaper protocols, and nobody notices. Your friends and family all have noticed, mainly because that’s all you bitterly talk about now.

They say “Don’t worry. You deserve all the good things” then they pat you on the head and themselves on the back. And nothing changes.

So, what’s the problem? Who’s heading your sales department?

Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest scientists in history and likely wouldn’t have accomplished anything without George Westinghouse’s sales experience.

No, I don’t mean at the office. I mean YOU. Who’s selling YOU?

Art Needs Agents

Artists, like actors, writers, and musicians often have agents to manage their booking. The artist is free to create while their agents and managers make sure there’s an audience to appreciate their art. Appreciation results in revenue and the cycle continues, leaving all participants better off.

You do not have a professional sales team, and neither do I. You are your sales team.

“But sales is icky!” you say, “selling is manipulative and beneath me!”

Sales has achieved a magnificent level of undeserved infamy for reasons far beyond the scope of this post. Maybe it was Arthur Miller who scared the idea into the American public with his play “Death of a Salesman.” To be fair, Dustin Hoffman is really good in the movie adaptation. No, I don’t think one playwright is to blame.

Sales is too often conflated with manipulation. Manipulators are smarmy and lie to get their immediate desire. Think of how many people you know like that and how many of them are in sales? I don’t know about you, but I have worked with and met managers, janitors, cooks, musicians, and every person in between, who all fit in the manipulator category.

Yet sales gets the brunt of the animosity.

People can say “Well, sales professionals don’t create any value! They just go around taking a percentage off the top of any deal for themselves! Leeches!”

This attitude makes me smile. It reveals a level of smug ineptitude that is astonishing.

We already covered that most successful artists use sales people. Why not do it themselves if the salesperson is just some blood-sucking tick? Clearly there are more complex dynamics to the situation than is assumed by the innocent sales hating public-at-large.

Inventions Don’t Sell Themselves

Forget artists, what about scientists? Engineers? Real movers and shakers making the comfort of our lives possible. To which I reply, more than the average person, scientists and engineers need a good sales mindset, or better, outsource all sales of discoveries and products to a professional.

Some of the greatest inventors and engineers in history were absolutely useless. Nikola Tesla was one of the greatest science-man-engineers in history and very likely wouldn’t have accomplished any of his feats or discoveries without George Westinghouse’s professional sales experience. Here’s a quote of unknown origins which sums up this point nicely.

“Eli Whitney was laughed at when he showed his cotton gin. Edison had to install his electric light free of charge in an office building before anyone would even look at it. The first sewing machine was smashed to pieces by a Boston mob. People scoffed at the idea of railroads. They thought that traveling even thirty miles an hour would stop the circulation of the blood! McCormick strived for 14 years to get people to use his reaper. Westinghouse was considered a fool for stating he could stop a train with wind. Morse had to plead before 10 Congresses before they would even look at his telegraph.

The public didn’t go around demanding these things; they had to be sold!!

They needed thousands of salesmen, trailblazers and pioneers – people who could persuade with the same effectiveness as the inventor could invent. Salesmen took these inventions, sold the public on what these products could do, taught customers how to use them, and then taught businessmen how to make a profit from them.”

If you aren’t out everyday asking for the deal, I guarantee you, it will not fall out of the sky into your lap. You will become bitter and dig your hole of sales hatred deeper, glaring out over the top at anyone succeeding because they had the gumption to ask for what they deserved.

How do they know they deserved it? Because they got it after A) Having the talent and doing the work and B) They asked, convinced, persuaded, SOLD somebody that they did indeed merit such compensation.

So, why are you not where you want to be after working your ass off?

I’ll ask again, who is your sales team? Who is advocating for you every single day? If it’s not you, then it’s nobody.

Republished from Kelly Hackmann’s blog.