We are all salesmen

Harish Salve, arguably one of the top lawyers in India, recently won a landmark case. In an excellent article on the case, a quote from him grabbed my attention: “If you are a good lawyer, you are a salesman of ideas”.

These are words of wisdom from the master of an art. They made me think of something that has been at the back of my mind ever since I started following Seth Godin, a marketing guru who’s blog regularly reaches over 1 million readers. He writes about marketing, of course, but what surprises me is that a lot of what he writes is relevant to many of us.

There is a good reason for feeling that. The fact of the matter is that we are all salesmen. We live in a world where we sell ourselves, our ideas, our thoughts, and our desires to some one else everyday. We try to convince others to look at the world from our view point. We pitch our ideas to our bosses. We attempt to sell the work we’ve done for monetary or non-monetary benefits. At home, we sell the idea of holiday to our kids or we try to convince the missus to let go off that gold chain. All of us we are out there in the business of selling something or the other.

Salesman, really?

Selling as a profession evokes a sense of low esteem. We think salesmen are people who don’t need to do anything new. Their job is to sell someone else’s work and that is the reason we attach a negative connotation to the profession. For example, in India, the profession is associated with door-to-door salesmen who annoy house owners.

We need to get rid of this notion. Selling, your work or even someone else’s, is an art. It requires innovation, the ability to grasp quickly and to respond adequately.

In the hyperconnected world, we are all competing for attention (mostly from those who will benefit us). Sure, we have more people to sell to but there are more people selling to the same people. Selling well becomes even more important than it has been in the past.

Picture credit: Tommy Schultz

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