Why Should We All Learn How To Sell?


Sunday, 7.32pm.

Sheffield, U.K.

It’s time to try a little experiment.

I started writing this blog a little over a year ago. I didn’t really have a plan. More just a vague feeling that I wanted to write and the way to write was to get started and write.

It also took some time to figure out what I wanted to write about. Was it long detailed technical pieces about my field? Was it a short braindump every day? What form and structure and tone would be appropriate?

Well, actually, I didn’t figure any of it out. The process of writing every day meant that all those things simply emerged. And they are still emerging and developing so I’m not really sure where they will end up eventually.

There are some patterns, however, that keep repeating.

All my posts, the last few hundred anyway, start with an idea, which I draw. It might be a concept diagram, a rich picture, a graphic organiser.

They aren’t really sketchnotes – some of my early posts are – but a sketchnote is full of elements, complicated and beautiful but also hard to digest unless you’ve done it yourself.

Then, the words simply fall out of the graphic. The process of drawing the idea makes the writing much easier.

Now, after nearly 200,000 words posted (199,095 to be precise) it feels like it’s time to try something new.

Robert Pirsig, writing in Lila, says that he writes things down on little slips of paper to get them out of his mind. The act of writing down means that his mind is free to let go of those ideas. That letting go is important if you want to let new ideas in, like pouring away old tea in a cup if you want to get any more in.

That’s what this blog has felt like for the last year. A place to collect all the ideas and thoughts and things that I’ve come across that seem interesting or thought provoking or worth knowing.

Perhaps it’s time to get a little more focused.

It’s coming up to the last quarter of the year. For many of us that means looking ahead to 2019 and making plans for what we’re going to do. And a big part of that plan involves thinking about sales.

Whether you work in a company as a salesperson, run a profit centre, are expected to make rain, work as a freelancer or consultant on your own or are looking for a new job, knowing how to sell is an essential part of your role.

I’m talking about selling as one of the things you do. Not something that happens at head office in a different department. No. It starts with you. You’re at the centre of this picture that I’m looking at.

So, when you think about what selling involves, some things start to push themselves forward. There’s your customer, of course. Their business. How they make decisions. Then there is your business and your product. There’s your business and the team and network around you. Then there is your story – the story you’re going to tell to create a relationship with that customer. And then there’s the market – that big thing that acts as the backdrop to everything you do.

Many people have written about this. From academic textbooks to pop psychology, from ra-ra look at me books to biographies and how-to manuals, there’s lots out there to read and think about. So, why is it worth writing anything else about it?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by stories of success – how someone use a particular approach to get where they are now. There’s the promise of a blueprint – do what I did and you’ll get the same results. Or there’s the fear that you’re so far behind that there’s no point in trying because you’ll never catch up.

The thing is that all these stories and ideas and concepts and blueprint are models. They describe a particular view of reality, not reality itself. They certainly don’t describe your reality, and my reality. So, it seems to me that it’s worth looking at a wide range of models and picking the ones that help us understand where we are better.

And so that’s the point of this experiment.

Over the next 30-90 days, I’m going to meander through the sales function. I’m going to try and pull together models that help explore the picture that has you and your customer at the centre. And my hope is that these models will help you and me question where we are when it comes to doing sales, and take action to improve how we do it.

What I’m also hoping is that what emerges from these posts is something of a first draft of something that will eventually become a book. Like Pirsig did with Lila. An emergent text rather than one that tries to sell a particular point of view. The kind of book I’d like to read to work out what I should be doing.

Let’s hope it works out.


Karthik Suresh

10 Replies to “Why Should We All Learn How To Sell?”

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