A few years ago I was approached by a publishing agent who wanted to know if I'd consider pulling together a book based on some of what I've posted in The Drift over many years. As it was something I'd thought about off and on, we ended meeting to talk it over. All was going pretty well until she asked me for one word I'd use to describe the book's appeal to those in sales.
I chose the word Green.
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"You mean Green like the color of all the money they'll make in sales?"
Nope. "I mean Green like sustainable." Well, that pretty much ended the meeting. She explained to me that books about selling stuff have a certain way of doing and saying things. And they don't include words like "sustainable." Too abstract, a little weird. Publishers won't like it and salespeople won't buy it. She may be right - and that book's not yet been written - but I still believe in Green Selling.
Much of what I've learned about the art and science of selling and persuasion has been through my work with the fast-paced, rule-breaking digital ad and technology companies that most of you work for. It would be easy to assume that those who sell in an environment like this are over-the-top, take-it-all types. While we've certainly got a few of these running around, I see far more successful sellers who do it green: they create sustainable, mutually beneficial, long-term business environments with their customers. But taking the long view doesn't mean they don't put short term numbers on the board. And it doesn't mean they're 'customer centric' pushovers either. Here's what it does mean.
Leaving something on the table. Those who think selling means the same thing as winning are relegating their customers to being losers. Green focus on shared growth, not victory.
Staying human. Many of those sales books my literary friend leans on are filled with artificial, salesy bullshit. If you wouldn't act that way with a group of close friends, don't do it on a sales call either.
Slowing it down. Trade in your fearful hysteria for thoughtful progress. As I've written here before, the great ones are never in a hurry.
Focusing on excellence. Success can be fleeting and fickle. When we obsess about it, we burn people out and often recognize those who might just have found themselves in a fortunate situation. Green organizations and green sellers obsess about excellence. Excellence nurtures and sustains.
Chances are my publishing pal was right. Maybe this book never gets written, and perhaps this post won't get as many forwards and tweets as others. But if you sit where I sit and see what I see, Green Selling is quietly taking over our world.