"Everyone Lives by Selling Something" -Robert Lewis Stevenson

by Juliana Dixon, Social Media & Marketing

This quote may be a surprise if you know anything about Robert Louis Stevenson. As a writer, poet, and composer, what did he know about selling? But stop and think about it- if a writer fails to write a compelling story, no one will pay for it. He must write in a way that is artful and and enthralling or he loses his reader, no one recommends the book, and he is penniless. The sale of the book begins when she puts pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and before marketing and editors step in. A technician must sell confidence in their ability and workmanship or they are unlikely to be hired or get a referral. A non-profit will not raise money if they cannot, with confidence and clarity, convince others of the need and importance of the organization and the trustworthiness of themselves. One does not need a title to be in sales but everyone should be mindful of the sales necessary for any role in which they find themselves.

In the movie Say Anything, recent high school graduate Lloyd Dobler famously says to Jim, the father of his girlfriend, “I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed... or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed... or repair anything sold, bought, or processed.” And we love his honesty and sincerity. But in the next breath Lloyd says: “…what I've been doing lately is kickboxing, which is really a, uh, new sport, but I think it's got a good future. As far as career longevity goes, I don't really know, because, you know, you can't really tell. You’re eight and six as a fighter, you know, but it's no good, you know, you have to be great, but I can't really tell if I'm great until I've had a couple of pro fights. But I haven't been knocked out yet.” Lloyd, in that moment, is actually selling to Jim. He’s selling his passion, the legitimacy of the sport, and his ability to do well in it. Does Lloyd do a good job? That’s debatable. He certainly would have made a more compelling case for kickboxing had he not been so sales adverse. Robert Louis Stevenson doesn’t say everyone sells well, just that we all sell and we depend on it. When we’re more conscious of that fact, we're going to do better in our jobs.

Are you a manager, small business owner, consultant, lawyer, doctor, engineer, or even a job seeker? What do you sell in your job? Identify what you are selling and allow sales to become a more natural part of your mindset and practice. You’ll likely find you do better at your job.