Everyone is in sales

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I encountered the concept again in a short book I read Thursday by Jim Rohn and Chris Widener called Twelve Pillars.

“Everything is sales,” is one of the 12 pillars for a successful life that an old handyman, Charlie, passes on to the book’s protagonist, a down-on-his-luck sales guy named Michael Jones. If you recognize the names of the authors, you will not be surprised to know that the book is a motivational lesson dressed up as a short novel.

It is not an original concept with me, or probably with Rohn or Widener, but it bears an occasional reminder. I like to think that everyone is an entrepreneur, that is, everyone is in charge of a small business otherwise known as our career. 

For the longest time most of us had only one customer at a time, and every week we sold a certain percentage of our time and skills to that customer — whom we called our employer — submitted an invoice called a time sheet, which was redeemed in the form of what we called a paycheck.

More and more of us are diversifying our customers, as we become freelancers in the growing “Gig Economy.” 

The thought that “everyone is in sales” turns on its head the old complaint (which I have made for decades), “I’m no good at sales.” Really? You were able to sell that one customer the right to exclusive use of your work time. You were able to sell that girl or boy on the idea of going out with you, and later to marry you. I’m constantly working to sell people on the idea of being quoted and/or pictured in the local paper. I bet you sell friends all the time on TV shows or books or restaurants or politicians or the church you attend.

Sales is about sharing your passion for something you believe in. If you’re “no good at sales,” it’s probably because you didn’t really believe in whatever it was you tried to sell. 

By the way, Twelve Pillars is as good an introduction to some common success ideas as you’ll find. As fiction, it’s meh. I saw the “twists” at the climax coming somewhere around Chapter 2. But as an explanation of a philosophy for making a successful life, it’s just fine. I imagine it would make a great introduction to the great Jim Rohn, and it was my introduction to Widener, whose work I will have to explore.

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