It could be the ultimate business mantra. Brilliant and simple. A no-nonsense axiom if there ever was one. Repeat it over and over again. Thomas J. Watson (the former Chairman and CEO of IBM), Peter Drucker (a management consultant and self-described “social ecologist”), and a host of others have been credited with originating this mote of business wisdom. Regardless of its origin it’s important to understand how it impacts each of us as individuals and the culture of business.
Not For Spectators
What I’m about to say is probably NOT going to be a shocking revelation. Everything in business revolves around sales. That’s right, unless you work in a total vacuum (or for the government) everything you do in some way influences or assists in the overall sales effort, either for your own business or your employer. Even in our personal lives we promote or “sell” our value to clients, employers and those in our network.
Some may feel tempted to believe that the sales process does not touch their work. For example, the product “sells itself”. But that is rarely the case. Many U.S. companies have seen how aggressive foreign competition out performed us in markets we once dominated and controlled. This was a giant wake-up call for U.S. corporations and the American worker. As a result we’ve become keenly aware of the importance of tending to the needs of customers and delivering on the promise of “total service”.
So it’s not a stretch to think in terms of our individual contributions and our role in selling. That’s what I’ll address next.
Most successful people get the concept of “YOU, INC.” (in fact various authors over the years have written books with that title) Loosely defined it means you run your business life or your personal life just like it was a company and you its CEO. However there is a catch – you are its only employee. So success or failure rides entirely on how well you manage “YOU, INC.”
For those who grasp the significance of “YOU, INC.” the payoff can be substantial. It’s not surprising that many have an “Ah-ha” moment when they first realize the significant personal payoff. It’s true that not everyone is cut out to pursue a sales career. But everyone sells themselves to the world in some way.
Please note this is a very popular and engaging topic and deserves much more space than I can allocate here. Therefore, for those with further interest I’ll include the following links to books written on this subject:
“How To Sell Your Way Through Life“ by Napoleon Hill
“The Art of Selling Yourself” by Adam Riccoboni
“You, Inc.” by Harry Beckwith and Christine Clifford Beckwith
How the sales function has fundamentally changed in recent years is discussed here: https://www.npr.org/2012/12/31/168132488/death-of-the-predatory-salesman-these-days-its-a-buyers-market
Your Personal Brand
I’d be remiss if I did not mention the benefits of personal branding. “YOU, INC.” goes hand-in-hand with your own personal brand strategy and selling. Everyone needs a personal brand that communicates your own special value. A strong personal brand should have these essential qualities: it must be unique, memorable and concise. Your personal brand relays key elements of who you are, what you do and how you do it.
As an example, “The Perfect Creative Partner” is my own personal brand. I’ve used it effectively and successfully throughout my career to engage clients seeking Graphic Design, Web Design and Advertising services.
If you don’t feel comfortable in creating your own personal brand you could hire a professional consultant or purchase a book on the topic. The following is a link to a new book written on this subject by author Dan Schawbel, titled ME 2.0. Another book by author Roberto Alvarez Del Blanco is titled Personal Brands.
If there were a final word on this topic I doubt this would be it. That’s because honing the skills we need to be happy, successful and productive should be a constant life-long activity. Acquiring and mastering those skills takes time of course but it’s well worth the effort.
So I’ll leave you with this thought. If “Nothing Happens Until Someone Sells Something” shouldn’t your “something” be YOU?
Disclaimer: I do not endorse or represent any of the authors mentioned in this post nor do I benefit or profit from the sale of any product or service they offer.
Excellent point, Kevin. Selling requires a trust relationship between seller and buyer, and having a strong personal brand that’s genuine and caring will go a long way in building those relationships.
Thank you for your comment on a strong personal brand. As you know, many in business have recently discovered personal branding. It’s popularity has soared with the increase of global competition!
I agree personal brand is important! I think most advertising people and agencies don’t invest enough time and energy into this.
But I think the idea that nothing happens until someone sells something is a short term view. While building a brand is a long term process. Before a person will buy what you are selling, you have to overcome objections and get them to feel comfortable with the seller. Three great examples of brands taking a long term view are Old Spice, Audi and Apple – each is or has worked a long term plan that doesn’t require selling for something to happen.
I say this because building a brand requires time as much as anything else, and when people think nothing is happening because nothing is sold, is missing the point. Some sales take longer than others.
Thank you for your comments.
Long term and short term business strategies all have one convergence point – sales. The reason the quote at the beginning of this post is so important is that it focuses on the bottom line in business – sales. If you see a pattern developing here its not by coincidence or chance.
Branding is essential to the development of a competitive product marketing strategy. But every CFO I have ever known has relied on income tracked to sales performance as the ultimate measure of success for the enterprise. Hard to argue with that thinking in my opinion.
I agree on both accords! The harsh reality is this: “Sales Cures All.” You must close deals, or your business is destined to fail. Personal Branding is so vital because people pay far more attention to the messenger versus the actual message you’re delivering. “People buy from people they like.” Always be mindful of both in business then go out and $ell Your Little Heart Out!
Alan, thank you for your comments and great advice. I agree with you, it’s very important for each of us to master sales skills and implement a personal branding strategy.