No one taught me how to sell.
I just knew how to gather information and draw pictures and tell stories with it. For some reason, people liked that. And they ended up doing business with me.
I've been invited to bids. RFPs.
I used to do a little management consulting and IT. So I replied to these RFPs the way I knew how.
Somehow I won them and beat some pretty serious players. I guess I connected with the stakeholders in a way that more technical vendors couldn't.
Even when I was in management consulting, my project leader complained our principals were too 'hard sell.' They pressured him to show good results and show gaps attributable to other areas in the client's business, so we can get contracted to tackle those areas next. He hated it.
I didn't understand at the time what he was complaining about. I just had fun gathering information and drawing pictures and telling stories.
Ultimately, I was responsible for an entire company's revenue. We always grew it at industry speed, sometimes faster. But it was simple USD per year. And there was a goal.
I did some cold-calling sometimes. Never really got any sale out of it. Perhaps because no one taught me how.
I eventually learned there was such a thing as content marketing.
And inbound. And thought-leadership. And challenger selling. And lead nurturing. And lead scoring. I thought what I did was just the way things worked. Didn't realize they had names. No one taught me.
Now there's BANT+E. Sandler. New deals created daily in your CRM. And conversion rates. And salespeople clawing for leads. And fake deals from fictitious prospects, to tide the salesperson through the daily sales review and the weekly sales meeting till he/she closes the next real sale. Now, there's always, "Do you have any requirement?" at every networking event.
Funny. I just used to tell interesting stories with data. And conducted myself in a classy way.
Now salespeople have a knife to their necks.
Daily. Weekly. Monthly. I guess if you had a knife to your neck that much, who cares about class, and the prospect, and intelligence, and usefulness?
I remember, I didn't need to be obsessed with the customer.
I just cared enough. Not too much that I was outside the bounds of natural reality. I just needed to show potentially good endings to factual stories. Prospects seemed to like that.
I didn't really need to network.
I just talked to people I liked and who genuinely interested me. That seemed enough for almost a decade. You know: being true to yourself and to other people.
People say selling has changed.
Still, only a handful of organizations and individuals taught me how to sell, and I'm not sure they entirely know they did.