World’s Oldest Profession: Making Sales Sexy Again

World’s Oldest Profession: Making Sales Sexy Again


What are you selling today? Products, ideas, dreams?

Remember the last time you bought something you loved? I mean – REALLY LOVED? What did it feel like when you got your hands on your special treasure? Or maybe it was a gift for someone else? Did you do your research to find exactly the features or qualities you wanted? Maybe you talked to others or read reviews?

We all spend time buying – it’s part of civilization. Commerce + exchange are at the heart of any community or thriving network. We love to buy.

And yet sales has a negative stigma. Half of the equation to our civilization is seen as deceptive or self-serving. Look out for sleazy sales people, many blogs warn. Because the way that people sell isn’t about the customer.

Yet top-performing sales people describe themselves as: confident, having an intangible X-factor, quick-witted, likable, responsible, and productive. How is that bad?!

They say the world’s oldest profession is prostitution. But what did the world’s first prostitute have to do first? Sell. Understand what your customer values. Make a promise. Then prepare for delivery. The best sales teams make promises – then hand off to customer success for the business to keep collective promises.

Keeping promises builds trust. Trust in your product makes customers happy. Happy customers come back for more, and they tell their friends.

In order to be irreplaceable, one must be different. – Coco Chanel

Most of us start our careers working for someone else. My first 6 years were in government contracting, helping grow a scaling business in Washington, DC. The hardest part of managing a sustainable business was selling. And not just in sales. I mean people in IT and product development meetings – also needed to sell their ideasto someone else.

It’s a delightful notion that we’re selling and buying ideas and promises all day. Shouldn’t we be really good at both of these?

For many years as a junior consultant, I avoided the task of selling. I was a practitioner, so why would I need to sell?

Once I became a partner in a startup in 2009, however, I woke up each morning wondering how I could make the business more successful. For the first time, I understood and believed in the purpose my business was serving. I wanted more of the world to know the simple truths that my mentor had collected in a thoughtful and graphic book called, The Primes.

[Spoiler alert: he’s about to release a second book called Match in the Root Cellar: How to Spark Peak Performance Culture.]

Suddenly sales became – not a task – but a bridge to satisfying our purpose and our partner’s. It was a way to share wisdom and make dreams real for clients. I welcomed the idea of sales – as it became noble.

All I did was change my mindset about it.

Fast forward 8 years. I now live in Amsterdam, writing sales + customer success training programs for modern scale-ups. Our WeWork office is a neighborhood away from the Red Light District, an on-the-street view of sales at its finest. And I smile at the thought that the oldest profession started with a sale – a promise.

We believe sales can be a noble calling. We believe that selling can be a rewarding and generative experience for all involved. We believe that that we can love selling as much as we love buying.

We believe that sales can be sexy again.


Next action: Are you doing everything in your power to make and keep your promises?

What are you selling today? Products, ideas, dreams?

Whatever you are selling or buying, are you clear about the promise of value? Did you confirm with the customer that you heard what they want? Do you understand their pains and dreams?

Is your promise one your company can keep? Does the customer see the value in that promise? Do your company and customer company have a common purpose? Take the time to make promises explicit for all decision-makers involved.

Stop by to steal our stuff + learn more.

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