Anyone who’s worked with me has heard my selling vs. telling mantra. “Selling” is asking for permission to be heard, even for a moment. “Telling” is the opportunity to engage and relate, to tell a story.
In the book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, Daniel Pink suggests that 21st century business revolves around the art of the sale. Not selling objects, but ideas, techniques or a points of view.
No longer can engineers have the Communication Quotient of a houseplant and be of value to a team. Today business requires a lean, mean, cross-functional selling machine. To survive, all departments need to persuade, negotiate, pitch or otherwise influence others to act and change on a dime.
Born with an outgoing personality, sales comes naturally to me. I’ve been told I can sell ice to an Eskimo, but who’s making a living selling ice to Eskimos? Luckily, early in my career I also learned the art of storytelling from PR.
PR is the Glengarry Glen Ross of the tech ecosystem but there’s no better training to hone the art of storytelling. Promoting unknown startups comprised of young MBAs with no customers, management or financing is like … selling ice to an Eskimo.
Whether brokering attention, trust, time, action, reaction, evangelism, partnership, support or transactions, the goal is to influence the target audience towards a desired end.
Once the Eskimo accepts delivery, it’s all uphill from there.