My colleague Daniel Burrus, technology researcher and futurist, said, “It’s a mistake to assume that people know what they might want. If they don’t know what’s possible, they will ask for too little.”
Brilliant! A big part of our sales job is showing the possibilities. Most people don’t think beyond their daily experience, they don’t spend much time considering what is possible for them. That’s our opportunity.
In the early days of western society there was no internet nor Wikipedia. Knowledge was catalogued by Britannica and World Book. Salespeople went door to door and sold the value of having a comprehensive knowledge source on the shelves of your home library. They and the National Geographic magazine sellers made global information accessible to the average home. In my own home we had the full collection of World Book Encyclopedias and a multiyear collection of National Geographic magazines. These were sources of pride for my parents’ generation.
But nobody would have gone out on their own to acquire these assets. It was the salespeople who stimulated the desire by showing what was possible with new knowledge sources. That transformed our society.
The same was true for life and accident insurance. Salespeople went door to door and showed people why they should be concerned about insurance and how they could provide for their families. None of those buyers were talking about these topics and they certainly weren’t seeking a way to buy them. That too, transformed our society.
Photographers called on homes to take photos with large cumbersome cameras and capture memories of families and children. Nobody was actively taking photos until salespeople showed the value of having photos. Personal cameras came about because salespeople had popularized the notion of having more photos to preserve your memorable moments. Vacuum cleaners were sold door to door by showing real time demonstrations of better cleanliness right there in your own home! Health club memberships were sold to people who weren’t seeking a workout source. Fitness wasn’t even popular when the selling began. People didn’t know what was possible.
Our job as sales professionals is not just in generating transactions, it is in converting the uninterested into the vitally committed. We are in the position to help our society advance by embracing new possibilities. When more people become committed to better health practices, smarter financial management, safer practices for taking care of their families, etc. then our world becomes a better place.
Whether you sell enterprise solutions for technological issues or earth moving equipment or chemicals that allow other things to be created, you are in the role of helping people to see and care about what is possible.
Please consider your role as vitally important. When you do your job well things get better for all of us. We need what you do, but we may not realize it yet.
What is the ultimate value that others receive by buying from you?