“Everyone’s in sales. I want to hear someone argue they’re NOT in sales.”
An accountant told me that a few years ago as we were discussing what deductions to take. While the IRS might not agree with his broad interpretation of the profession (I can imagine a sanitation worker justifying car expense deductions by arguing he’s a traveling ‘recycling’ salesman), I found myself repeating it the other day to my wife.
You see, my wife is a doctor. She’s also an avid Friends fan. So when I explain what I do to her, I might as well have Chandler’s job. [Cue 30 second Friends skit for those of you who need some help following along: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86kPVkZUeTg]. In fact, introductions typically go something like this, “This is my husband. He works on the Internet.” People undoubtedly leave with the impression that I’m some sort of seedy adult site operator.
Our marriage is sort of an anomaly. Medical school consumes a good deal of your prime spouse-meeting years. So when doctors get married, it’s usually to other doctors, followed by breeding little doctor babies. When their spouse comes home to talk about their day, it’s instantly relatable. “Oh, you treated a myocardial infraction today by restoring the balance between the oxygen supply and demand to prevent further ischemia? That’s outstanding.” The little doctor children clap, toy stethoscopes in tow.
Needless to say, sharing how our day went over dinner goes very differently. But 9 times out of 10, it ends in her saying, “Marketing…pfft.” So I found myself using this ‘open-minded’ accountant’s view on sales to help relate what I do to her daily life.
My wife hadn’t seen it this way, but she’s selling something every day. She’s selling people on the right course of treatment. She’s selling people on the benefits of taking their medication consistently. When she’s interviewing, she’s selling the hospital on herself. It doesn’t make her feel comfortable to look at her job this way (yet…leave that to me), but the irony is that she’s a brilliant communicator, and a fantastic salesperson.
In fact, the best doctors are the ones that listen to their customer, ehem…patient, help them tell their story, and think outside the box to solve their specific problem, given the patient’s unique circumstances.
Whatever your profession, the common thread of success is similar. Put your customer in the driver’s seat, listen, and communicate openly and effectively. So yes, everyone’s selling something. Just remember what separates a great salesperson from a mediocre one.
In some ways, I started Marketing…pfft (#marketingpfft) to give my wife a better sense of what I do every day. I’ll talk a lot about marketing here, but she’ll be the litmus test. If she can’t understand one of my blogs, or isn’t even mildly entertained, I’ve done a poor job.
Not sure what I’m going to re-name it when she stops saying “marketing…pfft”, but am taking suggestions. No rush, it won’t be for a while…