The Handmaid’s Sale


There is a scary dystopian world being conjured by those that see Sales as some sort of reactionary movement, apparently hell-bent on creating destruction and chaos throughout the land.

We need to reclaim ‘Sales’ as an honourable, beneficial and indeed, critical set of skills for success in business.

The dystopians and ‘self haters’ some of whom actually call themselves business coaches, want to obliterate the word ‘sales’ to be replaced with ‘buyer enablement’ or ‘relationship management’ or some other Orwellian euphemism.

It’s important to distinguish between ‘Old School Selling’ filled with self-interest and talking too much and ‘Professional Selling’ with its inherent skills of listening and advising, but let’s not dismiss that this is unashamedly about influence.

Old School Selling has been on the front pages primarily via the Banking Royal Commission (BRC), the thousands of pages of which can be summed up as:

BRC: So, are you aware that you put your own personal and business interests ahead of clients in unconscionable ways?

Banks: ‘Well, now that you mention it, we didn’t’ realise that the legitimate goal of maximising shareholder returns also had to be done ethically, morally and legally’.

I, for one, am certainly happy to donate to the ‘Build a Prison Fund’ for some of these dastardly acts.

But, let’s not confuse headline grabbing, abominable behaviour with the vast majority of people in the world of professional selling. The Sales Directors, Business Development Managers, Pre-Sales Consultants, Sales Managers who get up every day to do the right thing by their clients and their company.

How do I know?

This is my 20th year of consulting, speaking, coaching and training thousands of people around winning business. In addition, working live advising on hundreds of multi-million dollar pitches across all industries, gives me unique insights into the mindsets and behaviours of professional sales people.

1.      I can count on one hand (with three missing fingers) how many companies were willing to blatantly lie or do something unethical in order to win.

2.      Professional sales people think about improving their client’s world every day, knowing that it will mostly likely be reciprocated.

3.      The vast majority of companies spend inordinate amounts of time and money proving to themselves that their products and solutions work before recommending them.

4.      Clients can Google all they want. Procurement can look myopically at the minutiae of a contract but only a professional sales person can guide and advise on a best fit solution. (note: would you hire an architect or corporate law firm just from Googling?)

5.      The level of skill and acumen in creating value for clients has risen exponentially in the past decade.

The shonky, Glengarry Glen Ross, Slick Willie sales person is gone or going. We hear about the remaining few because it’s good clickbait or fodder for TV shows.

Let’s celebrate the professional enterprise sales person because they are the majority – ethical, hardworking, knowledgeable and committed to both their own success and especially, those of their clients.

This is not a dystopian world filled with rank opportunists who connive in dark rooms to cheat people.

It’s a world replete with successful outcomes because, yes, someone sold them something pretty bloody good.

Elliot Epstein is a leading Pitch Consultant, Keynote Speaker, Corporate Sales, Negotiation and Presentation trainer who gets sales results rapidly. He has coached and trained high profile corporates globally in presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching. He has spoken at over 1500 conferences and workshops for leading companies such as HP, SEEK, Avaya, Hitachi , Asciano, Samsung and Lend Lease

He is the author of # 1 International Best Seller ‘ Confessions of a Pitch Consultant‘ and Sales Vs Procurement – The Secrets Unveiled at the Negotiation Table and is internationally renowned for ensuring sessions are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.

Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two negotiators.

Published in   Account Management/Retention, Executive Level Selling, Presentations, Sales Management