All of Life is Sales

Montreal is the capital of the North American telemarketing industry.

As the second-largest French-speaking city in the world, with a cheap labour force and low cost of living, Montreal is the ideal place for telemarketing companies. This means that many of us, the people you know that live here, have worked these kinds of jobs when we were young and broke. It let us get up late, make our own schedules, and make a decent wage. The only downside is the feeling of crushing defeat that comes with every single call we had to make.

Telemarketing is one of many reasons why we feel that sales, like marketing, is dirty. But we forget that, in some ways, we are selling all the time, to everyone.

  • Co-workers
  • Ourselves
  • Significant other
  • Children
  • Family
  • Boss

We sell to everyone, about everything. We sell our worldview and our politics. We convince them what we want to eat for dinner. All of this puts aside what we actually do for a living, which is often to actually sell a product or service to someone for a living. But we don’t get a feeling in the pit of our stomachs when we do it. Why?

Sales is antithesis to the way we behave as human beings. We have to be pushy and sometimes bother people. We have a lot of discomfort to break through. It can be tough and most of us quit. But we also find new ways to sell what we do:

  • Blogs
  • Speeches
  • Television
  • Religion

We use these ways to avoid going through the feeling that we had while doing the door-to-door, telemarketing type. But there’s another way to deal with this feeling we get. Some people push through it. Some people keep going and become successful, while others push through it and become cynical.

Which ones are right?

When I think about it, part of the idea of the way we sell to ourselves now (including what’s written in Trust Agents) is to avoid stepping on other people’s toes– not for them, but for us. So we can avoid that feeling that we’re intruding and being dirty.

But those that push through it sometimes become some of the most successful people in the world.

Who’s right, and who’s wrong? You tell me.

(Written as a complement to Mitch’s Life is Marketing post, here.)



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11 responses to “All of Life is Sales”

  1. Judy Helfand Avatar

    I don’t disagree…sales – I don’t like it, but I am married to a really good salesman. As a friend once said to me, “if you want to be good at sales you need to know how to schmooze.” I think there is a distinct difference between schmoozing and communicating; therefore, I believe that stronger relationships are established with good communication skills. I knew I didn’t like selling when I took a Christmas Extra position at the main SEARS store in San Francisco. I was 19. That was 1968 and it was one of only three SEARS stores in the US that was unionized and full time sales people were commissioned. I won’t go into the whole story, but it turns out my “pleasant” personality and non-pushy way allowed me higher sales (no commission) and the regular employees complained so much, that I was moved from one department to another over the course of two months! SALES!
    I understand that Michael Douglas has a new film which was released in NYC and LA this weekend — Solitary Man. Here is a link to a review, he is a salesman. Might be a fun movie.

  2. Hamish Avatar

    Agreed, Julien all of us are in sales.

    My experience is the pushy telemarketing types are just poorly trained. By putting the benefit of their pitch up front, their audience has a chance to engage without wasting a tonne of time.

    For me, sales is about respect. Respecting that your target audience is busy, respecting that they may not have the money *right now* for your pitch, respecting that the timing of your pitch may be off and respecting that they might not be the final decision maker.

    That said, we need to remind our audience of the needs they expressed during our conversation and not let them wiggle out of making a decision. It’s okay to hear “no” after a pitch because “no” allows you to ask “why?”

    I am really bothered by social media writers, like Joseph Jaffe in “Join the Conversation” that imply customers will buy simply by being engaged with a company. At some point, part of the conversation needs to be, “so, Julien how do we do business together?”

  3. Mitch Joel - Twist Image Avatar

    Funny enough, as I was writing my Blog post, “Life Is Marketing,” I kept saying to myself, “is this marketing or sales?” I think, in some instances the lines are blurred (which is why we often say, “sales AND marketing”).

  4. CT Moore Avatar

    @Mitch, that’s what I was thinking when I was reading your post.

  5. Brendan Hughes Avatar
    Brendan Hughes

    Both Marketing and Sales have got a bad rep over the past fifty years. We percieve both the admen and the salesmen as trying to convince us to buy products we don’t really need, using clever emotive devices and tricks to get us to part with more of our hard-earned cash. We are all familiar with that sinking feeling that we’ve just paid too much for an average product or service.

    All of life is marketing and sales. We are always presenting ourselves in a good life and trying to convince others to do things we want them to do. In non-commercial life, relationships are grounded on mutual trust and benefit. We do things fo others because we know there will be a quit pro quo. How many business marketers and salesmen consider building trusted relationships that don’t just terminate at the point of sale?

    Nice thought-provoking article.

  6. Ivan Walsh Avatar

    …easy dude,

    You’re limiting yourself to a rather dualistic worldview.

    There’s no right or wrong – just perceptions.

  7. Joseph Jaffe Avatar

    Hamish – I sent you an e-mail so we can discuss your concern.

    1. Julien Avatar

      Ahaaa, joining the conversation are we Jaffe? 😉

  8. Hamish Avatar

    Joseph – got your e-mail. Love to take you up on your offer. Will respond with a few options this week.

  9. JonH Avatar

    Nice to see this post, I was just at the CMA convention and had the chance to meet Mitch Joel, now thanks to following your amazing blog I get pointed to his as well, thanks!

  10. Sophie Davis Avatar

    such people are successful, but are they happy?

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