Buying and selling

Often people decide on their roles and stick to it. Especially it seems to be true when it comes to selling. When I say selling, I mean it in a wider meaning. When people go out to sell something, they often identify themselves with this role and are very poor at playing roles. "My goal is to sell. I'm resisting every attempt from other people to change my role", is what their (un)conscious mind seems to think.

When me and Ali went to the biggest IT fair in the Middle East, Gitex, we talked to hundreds of companies there and were trying to see whether they could be interested in "buying" AIESEC's services. People we spoke to were absolutely surpised that someone would even try to sell them something, 'cause they were the ones who were supposed to sell! This made them also very deaf and our selling marathon didn't yield much results. They didn't even consider how much their business could have profited from what we had to say. In case somebody is wondering why we didn't change our role and started buying, then AIESEC is not in a position to buy anything ;)

Networking. People (mostly) network with a goal in mind, to get something they need (to sell). If they discover you are not beneficial to them (directly, so you can help them to get this thing they want), they lose interest and want to move on. Yes everybody's time is limited and we need to achieve our goals, but if we shut our mind to everything else but things related to our goal, we might miss a lot of opportunities. And missed opportunities can not be taken back.

You call a company. You ask questions, you talk to somebody. Often they are not very receptive/helpful, they don't wanna listen, if you're not going to buy. They pour a lot of money to advertising, to build their image and so on, but when it comes to person-to-person interaction, they suck. They only make an effort if they're in the role of selling. In my opinion that makes the money spent go down the drain. They often don't realise they can be in many roles at the same time and be good at those roles. Missed opportunities again and lost reputation. Joe Girard (hailed as the best salesguy in the world, was in the 70s at least) talks about the law of 250: that if you turn down a person, s/he will talk to his/her friends, relatives, colleagues who talk to their people and so 250 people will find out that you suck. My guess is the same rule applies here. I've told everyone how much Pepsi sucks in this country. There, I said it again.

This role thing applies same way to regular people as well. Someone who is self-centered and is busy talking about him/herself and how much s/he knows about stuff and how cool s/he is, are very poor at listening to (buying) other people. Their mind is fixed to selling. Jim Collins writes in his book "Good to Great" the following:
During my first year on the Stanford faculty in 1988, I sought out professor John Gardner for guidance on how I might become a better teacher. Gardner, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, founder of Common Cause, and author of the classic text Self-Renewal, stung me with a comment that changed my life.

“It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting,” he said. “Why don’t you invest more time being interested.”

The truth is that is you buy from somebody (in a wider sense) they are also more likely to buy from you. In the end everybody will be happier. And you might (and probably will) benefit from it through improved relationships, new ideas and expanded world.

Don't identify yourself with a role as we all have so many of them. When talking to somebody and that somebody starts telling you about something that doesn't seem to be of your interest at first glance, keep going. The right mindset should be "what if this is the next big thing" what the guy next to me is about to tell me. You never know where a great idea/thought/opportunity is coming from. It might be in the head of the guy who wants to tell you something.

And beware of the exploding yogurts. One just exploded to my face this morning.

(Pictures from my last visit to Oman)

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