Everyone has to sell. If you remember reading my previous article on our Sales Panel (click the link for a recap), you will recall I said something similar back then as well. But it is a point that is worth repeating: everyone has to sell, even if you are not a salesperson. Selling is essentially effective communication, which is a skill you will need no matter where you go.
Nonetheless, it is hard to get past the negative connotation of selling as pushy or manipulative. In fact, I was one of those people who disliked selling just a couple years ago. As a student of English literature, I was about as far from a salesperson as you could be; my studies involved reading historical texts and writing long essays on such topics as slavery, civil liberties and agency (not like an advertising agency, in this context it means roughly “the power that someone has to make their own decisions”). How could I possibly be selling anything?
In reality, I was selling something the entire time. Instead of selling products, I was selling ideas; all of my essays used persuasive writing to argue a certain point. In fact, one of my English teachers compared an academic essay to a sales pitch:
- Start with an idea that you want other people to believe in
- Introduce evidence that supports the idea
- Link those reasons back to the initial idea you’re selling
Still, I equated selling with something that pushy salespeople and businessmen did. It was only during a presentation by the co-founder of Sales Talent Agency, Jamie Scarborough, during my first year in the BCITMA that I began to understand what being in sales actually meant.
Selling is a skill. It is about helping people solve problems. It is mainly about listening to people, not talking. You do not have to be extroverted to sell (this one was actually very surprising). Unfortunately, many people do not know this and still equate selling with something that is pushy and self-interested.
Great Canadian Sales Competition
This is why the Sales Talent Agency holds a Great Canadian Sales Competition every year: to encourage students to come together and learn to love sales. The event is a competition, but more importantly it is about education, as well as exposure for aspiring students. Each participant submits a video of their sales pitch (60-90 seconds long), which are all viewed by employers looking for new talent. You do not even have to be a sales student to participate; knowing how to sell is important for everyone, regardless of which career you choose.
The educational aspect comes from the extensive sales coaching that you will receive. The 25 top participants with the best pitches are coached by industry mentors on how to sell effectively; they will also be invited to the final round of competitions at Google headquarters in Toronto. And if you know Google, the company is known for their quirky and innovative workplaces – the Toronto office is no exception.
Of course, it would not be very meaningful if I told you to participate in something that I would not do myself. Which is why I have uploaded my video already; simply choose a topic you are passionate about, write down three benefits for other people based on that topic, record the video and you’re ready to go.
(At this point, it is time for some shameless self-promotion: click this link to the Great Canadian Sales Competition to see my sales pitch, and be sure to like it!)
But maybe you have never done a sales pitch before and do not know where to start. If that’s the case, then the Great Canadian Sales Competition Workshop is just for you!
On Thursday, January 21st at 5:30pm in room SE2 267, the BCITMA is holding a workshop to help people create their sales pitches. Second-year sales students Robby Jones and Sean VanderEnde will explain all the steps to making a pitch and how you can stand out from the competition. Space is limited, so be sure to sign up by clicking here.
If there are enough participants, a second workshop may be held, so be sure to stay tuned! The BCITMA Facebook page is the best place to go for all the latest updates on what we are doing next.
Likewise, for more information about the Great Canadian Sales Competition, be sure to check out the official website. You can also check out this news article on the Financial Post to see what other people are saying about the Sales Competition. Plus, you get to see our very own VP of Sponsorship Jacquie Kine in the news.
The competition ends on January 30th, so be sure to submit your video soon. We look forward to seeing your pitches!