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Why Selling Is a Dirty Word

Charlatan. Liar. Snake oil peddler.

Maybe you’ve felt like one.

The opinions we form about salespeople – or more specifically, people who sell – are long-held and cemented into our brains. Most of us have a negativity bias, which simply means we overemphasize negative memories.

Let me put it another way. Long before we started selling our services, we were the ones being sold. Some of the experiences were positive, and some were negative. If you’re human, there’s a really good chance you focus on the negative experiences.

I posit another layer of complication here: most of your experiences aren’t negative. A bell curve suggests that most of your experiences were neutral, some were positive, and some were negative. You just happen to remember the negative ones.

We take this information and apply the negative experiences to ourselves. In Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human, he noted that three of the most common words we use to describe selling are pushy, yuck, and difficult.

And yet we only sell our services because we know we can help. We know we can make a difference for our clients. We know we can help them save money or time, or make money, or be better at what they do.

Selling isn’t a dirty word at all. It’s required to help new clients.