The Number #1 Job of Selling

By: Dan Kennedy on: February 13th, 2015 9 Comments

When it comes to the task of selling, many miss the mark on what’s truly Job #1.

To do so is to court disaster.

A key foundational element is absolute clarity on what your job is if you are engaged in selling. And most people, I think, are not really clear about what that job is and here’s some of the ways they’re not clear.

FIRST:  Having Moral Ambiguity About Selling

One is moral ambiguity. So they feel somehow that their right to sell and to close is limited. Somehow morally limited that they should only push this person so far and not push as far as they might be able to push. They have ambiguity about how much they deserve to make from selling.

I actually had a salesman who worked for me years ago and he had in his head that he was a $48,000 a year guy. That’s what was in his head. His dad had never made more than $48,000. And he had in his head that he too was a $48,000 a year guy. Period.

And if it was the 31st of the month and he hadn’t sold anything to make $4,000 by midnight on the last day of the month, he would manage to sell just enough to make that $4,000.

If he sold something on the first day of the month and made $4,000, what happened in his life in the ensuing 29 or 30 days to prevent him from making another sale was unimaginable. Car problems. Family issues. Acts of God. You name it.

So there’s a lot of that kind of stuff going on in people’s heads.

SECOND: Having Mixed Agendas About Selling

There’s “Willy Lomanism” if you know “Death of Salesman,” meaning that people have mixed agendas when they’re in selling.

Some just want to be liked and they are afraid of doing things that will cause people to dislike them – like pushing them hard to buy.

Some carry a sense of entitlement, as in “I shouldn’t have to sell – it should sell itself.”

Some even hold false beliefs about customers…. “I’ll present all the information and you should have a right to make a decision about whether or not you’re going to buy.”

The REAL Number #1 Job of Selling

These people don’t understand what the job of selling is. The #1 job of selling is to MAKE A SALE. That’s what the job of selling is.

And any media that is deployed, a sales media, its job is to make a sale.

Its job is not to respect the customer’s right to make their own opinion. That’s not in the job description. And you can’t cash a check for that.

So you cannot march into your sales manager’s office and say, “I didn’t sell anything this week. But I was really respectful of everybody’s right to analyze information and come to their own conclusions about whether or not they should buy. So write me out a check.”

That’s not how sales people get paid. We get paid for one thing and one thing only – make a sale. That’s our job, however we’re doing it, and in whatever environment we’re doing it. Ethically. Honestly. All that of course. But MAKE THE SALE.

One of the things I heard very early in my life was a quote by Zig Ziglar, back when he was a hardcore sales trainer. He was in the pot and pan business, going house to house selling $800 sets of pots and pans in the 1960s. (By the way there were $800 vacuum cleaners in the 1960s. $800 sets of encyclopedia in the 1960s.).

So Zig’s quote was, “I’ve got their pots out in my car. They have my money in their kitchen drawer and I ain’t leaving until I make the exchange.”

That’s clarity about the Number #1 Job of Selling. Make the SALE. Period.

You need the attitude of : “That’s MY money in YOUR pocket. The minute the sales event started, however it started, I came into your room, you came into my room, you came to my television show, you came on my call – at that moment, your money became my money. Now it’s my job not to let you steal it from me by not buying.”

That’s where you need to be at because the #1 Job of Selling is about doing this.

P.S. – Get “The 10 Rules to Transforming Your Small Business into an Infinitely More Powerful Direct Response Marketing Business” for FREE. Click here to claim your customer-getting, sales-boosting tactics.

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    Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to

    9 Responses

    1. Joe Brusse says:

      That is the best explanation of selling I have ever heard. It is why I have never been successful while trying to sell anything except myself. Thank you. I will do better understanding this job.

    2. Hi Dan,

      Great post! I love it.

      You are so right, people have to seriously get over this moral obstacle in our brains.

      There is absolutely no ethical or moral reason why we can’t be paid. We have bills to pay and mouths to feed just like those we are trying to sale to.

      We happen to be the solution to their problems and it comes with a monetary value.

      In fact, to not get the sale would be the thing that is morally wrong. We have to have a paradigm shift in how we look at selling.

    3. Rick Clark says:

      A sale is made every time we encounter a customer. Either we close them on the reasons to buy, or they close us on their reasons not to buy. ~ RC @rcl4rk

    4. Ben Gay III says:

      Dan –

      Not only is your post excellent, it brought back a lot of memories from those early days with Zig, Doug, Fred, Earl, Dr. Hill, etc. Thank you!

      All the best!

    5. Dan,

      You cite Zig Ziglar with a purpose. You write: “Make the SALE. Period.”
      I disagree. The prospects’s money is not my money. I am not there to push my ware down his throat. That is not selling, it is robbing.
      I believe Tom Hopkins who says: the salesman’s job is to help the prospect get what he needs, be that new golfing sticks, a bigger yacht, or a bulldozer. At the right price, of course.

    6. Michael Wong says:

      Hi Dan,

      You’re amazing in summing up the role of a sales job.

      There’s countless books on sale with 100’s of pages but this short post gets straight into the purpose of this subject.

      I’m building an online business and your teaching on this site will be an immense help, not only for me, but for everybody regardless of their experience.

      Many thanks for your free teaching.

    7. Stephan says:

      You have just shown why salespeople have a bad name. Who in their right mind wants to let someone in the door when they have the attitude of “I’m not leaving until you give me your money!”

      This is push selling. Pull selling – wanting to empower someone to get what they want, getting the right match – is a lot easier and will get you raving fans who are repeat customers and raving fans. Which has staying power.

      • Mike Stodola Mike Stodola says:

        Stephan, that’s the mindset. It’s like a basketball player having the mindset that they will make every shot and crush their opponents. The mindset and tactics should not be confused with one-another.

    8. Dave says:

      Your stuck in the 70’s this is terrible advice. You sell value, and communicate the advantage of doing business with you / your organization. The advent of the internet has allowed the “buyer” to be very educated and sofisticated about whats available from who at what price points and delivery options. Get a clue, the new generation of buyers – millennials, will eat your lunch if you try to stuff something down their throat! Compelling arguments, case studies, positive customer experiences is what the market for “all” products – (cars – to complex computer software) is about. Just like the old adage – “you have to be a closer” – nonsense. Read Spin Selling by Neil Rackham to get an idea what selling in the 21st century is about. Good Luck.


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