…is Salesmanship”

I first came across this quote when I read Hamid “Hank” Noorani’s book POWER – The Modern Doctrine and had a chance to explore the idea in a video interview we did together several years ago. It caught my attention because those who know me as a Leadership and Business Coach are sometimes surprised that I am also a Sales Coach. I have always believed there is a level of genuine salesmanship in the process of being an effective leader. While I would be the first to agree the two are not identical twins, I would argue they are at least in the same family tree!

One of the key arguments they are not alike, I believe, stems from an outdated understanding of 21st Century Salesmanship. For instance, in Daniel Pink’s latest book To Sell is Human, he makes multiple cases for the human element of sales as opposed to the fast-talking, hard pressing salesman profiled in so many books and movies like Glengarry Glen Ross and The Boiler Room. At the very end of the book, he asks the reader if, after persuading someone to buy something, to ask and answer two questions:

  1. “If the person you’re selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve?”
  2. “When your interaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began?”

“If the answer to either of these questions is ‘No,’ you’re doing something wrong.” It seems clear that these same questions can be applied to the leader’s interaction with their followers.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he/she wants to do it.” What he is referring to is the power of persuasion. Persuasion is an adjective often, and easily, associated with both Salesmanship and Leadership. But when we think of persuasion in the 21st Century, we look at it as a very collaborative process aimed at changing someone’s attitudes and/or behaviors toward something or someone using written or spoken words to convey information, feelings, reasoning or a combination thereof.

To be effective, all three moving parts of the persuasion process have to work together. Aristotle called these Ethos (Character), Pathos (Emotions) and Logos (Logic). Are we trusted as leaders, how emotionally intelligent are we in our leadership decisions and actions and how do we leverage reason in a manner followers can understand and act upon. How are we helping them hear the melody and the lyrics of your message!

As you lead your business into a new year, what are your followers buying?

Lead (Sell) Well!