I’m Not Dirty, Are You?

Do you remember the bully in your second-grade class? I do. His name was Ray. He chased me around shop class. Yes “shop class.” And I also remember that I got paddled for running in class. Yes “paddled.” I ran from Ray because he was chasing me! But I also ran from him because well, he had a dirty mouth. He whispered words I knew not to say into my ear; so I ran. He chased me but he was smart enough to stop when the teacher looked up from his magazines. Then Ray flashed an angelic smile and I got paddled.

I think this was one of my first experiences with master manipulation. Is Ray the type who grows up to give salespeople a bad rap? Let’s forget about the few salespeople who delight in bait and switch, trickery, and false promises. For most of us, sales is an honorable profession, yet we have been conditioned to have a distaste for it. Face it, what 9-year-old kid says, “When I grow up, I want to be a sales rep.”? Probably just Ray.

I think what has contributed to assuming salespeople can’t be trusted is the multitude of sales tactics that teach manipulation. Think what we have heard about sales. There are spins and angles. We hear things like “always be closing” and “criers are buyers.” We applaud the salesperson who can “sell ice to Eskimos.” With all these negative associations, many of us tend to see sales as the “dirty” part of our otherwise impactful work.

But wait, your work is impactful right? Then throw out the trash talk and stand tall. You chose the product or service you are promoting because you believe it can make a positive difference. If you believe this, then embrace the selling part of your work as a responsibility. Selling your product or implementing your program is your duty, because the more people who invest in it, the more people you are helping. This perspective positions you to bring honor and build trust with every conversation. And if you don’t believe this about what you are selling, I am willing to bet you have the power to change that. Lead with value: the unique difference you can make in the lives of others, and make sure you believe it first. Forget spins, tactics, and angles. Speak with sincerity, listen with intention, share real stories, be humble, embrace vulnerability, and enjoy the pure experience of building lifelong friendships along the way. No washcloths required!

Love and cheers,

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