Everyone is a Salesperson… My personal journey into the world of selling!

By Jennifer James

Premiere of our first movie The Global Groove Network

It’s a simple equation really, when you’re having fun the cash will come…

In my last blog I talked about why we fear sales and I gave some tips on how to move past the fear. I wanted to share my personal journey in sales because it’s been a bumpy road full of discovery, learning, FEAR, and most importantly and recently fun and excitement. I started building my sales capabilities early in my career. In fact, my very first job when I was about 4 years old was a door to door sales person. I created my own Christmas ornaments to sell to my neighbours. Those of you who know me are probably laughing, a nice Jewish girl selling Christmas ornaments, but I learned one of the most important lessons early on in my sales career, know your target demographic, and I lived in a dominantly Christian neighbourhood at the time. They were made from durable, reliable, aluminum foil and hand-formed into the shape of candy canes, nicely wrapped with red and green yarn to complete the effect. They sold for the steep price of 5¢. It was my first taste of success, validation, and pride in my own ability to sell.

Big money at a young age!

As a child I tried many things like building a jewellery empire — selling handmade bracelets, necklaces and earrings or signing up for “Junior Achievement” where my team made a unique but somewhat interesting gumball machine to hopefully sell to the masses. I was naturally drawn to selling, whether I liked it or not, a battle I would face for years to come. I also learned at a young age some of the key attributes to being a strong salesperson — leadership, negotiation, empathy, communication, optimism, responsibility, and relationships. I practiced many of them throughout my formative years on my brother and my parents, often being told I took after my mother, the ultimate saleswoman.

My Mom

My mother spent a good portion of her career in Senior roles within charitable organizations driving fundraising and sponsorship. She achieved the unthinkable, organizing high profile events — like the partnership between Cineplex and Crohns and Colitis for the opening of Phantom of the Opera and winning significant awards like Governor General’s Award for Community Service. I observed in awe and was always trying to sell my parents on ideas from a young age — like leaving my brother and I to babysit each other and convincing them that we should be paid for watching one another. I was just full of ideas and liked to share with my folks.

I found this great article from Salesforce that talks about attributes of a strong salesperson. While this is one perspective, I would say that there are many attributes to good sales people. Check this out and see what you think!

Through my career I found myself in sales-type roles. Everything from a Sales Manager in retail to Director of Licensing and Sales for Canada’s largest Entertainment Licensing Agency, Segal Licensing. I found myself always having an internal struggle, some days loving the thrill of the sale (closing and negotiating big deals), building my network, being around global teams, collaborating with strategic partners and other days I found myself wanting to walk away. I came up with all sorts of reasons for wanting to move away — everything from, I’m not passionate about sales, I don’t love the numbers side and therefore can’t be good at it, I hate contacting people I know and care about to sell to them — it feels fake, and the rejection…argh! It took me a long time to realize that you can’t be good at everything and that everyone is really a salesperson. Two very important lessons.

By saying EVERYONE is a salesperson I actually mean it. When you are passionate about what you do and where you do it, and who you do it for you are automatically selling, whether you have the title or not. Passion sells. The best presentations and pitches are done by those who are the most passionate, those who can share their personal stories. Check out this great example of a personal pitch from dad to daughter:

As I grew up, both literally and in my career I learned what my strengths were and who I wanted to be. I became better at articulating that and being able to sell that to other people. Sometimes it comes out better than others. It’s a process. But I do know that every single day I am selling myself and my company because I am proud of who I am and what we do, where we’ve come from and where we are going. I have come to terms with my partnership with my inner salesperson and I have embraced it. I am only suggesting that perhaps you should consider doing it too!

Until next time…