Home > Personal Selling > The definitive definition of selling is ...

The definitive definition of selling is ...

Does anyone have a definitive definition of 'selling'?

Complete the following sentence 'To sell is...........?' - by Seth
Hellooooooo....it's gone awfully quiet in here (echo echo echo) - by helisell
Wiki is always a good "definitive" source...

Academically, selling is thought of as a part of marketing,[1] however, the two disciplines are completely different. Sales often forms a separate grouping in a corporate structure, employing separate specialist operatives known as salespeople (singular: salesperson). Selling is considered by many to be a sort of persuading "art". Contrary to popular belief, the methodological approach of selling refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, by which a salesperson relates his or her offering of a product or service in return enabling the buyer to achieve their goal in an economic way.[2]

While the sales process refers to a systematic process of repetitive and measurable milestones, the definition of the selling is somewhat ambiguous due to the close nature of advertising, promotion, public relations, and direct marketing.

i think this is what many of us have been trying to explain in the past few days... - by Andrea
To sell is to make an awesome living! - by Sell4alivn
... the definition of the selling is somewhat ambiguous due to the close nature of advertising, promotion, public relations, and direct marketing.
Somewhat ambiguous. Even Wiki doesn't have a definitive definition. Is there any wonder why salespeople are confused about selling? - by Seth
I wonder............if nobody can define what it is....
how can we know if we are doing it? - by helisell
I wonder............if nobody can define what it is....
how can we know if we are doing it?
I guess we just don't know what we're doing... flying by the seats of our pants and raking in the sales as we go along... ;st - by Andrea
I wonder............if nobody can define what it is....
how can we know if we are doing it?
If nobody can define what selling is then how can you define what selling isn't? Did I mention that cold calling isn't "selling"? stcktng; - by Seth
That's because selling is an art... not a science. Though we like to break it down into steps and make a science out of it... ultimately it is an art.

I think you need it to be black and white for some reason. You need to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Go ahead... nobody is stopping you. If it helps your sales then by all means. If it helps you help others and it works for them then by all means.

I am pretty sure what selling is and what it isn't. I sell all of the time not only my products but sometimes my ideas to people around me.

Sales involves many disciplines... psychology, communication, mathematics, time management, biology... you name it. - by Andrea
That's because selling is an art... not a science. Though we like to break it down into steps and make a science out of it... ultimately it is an art.
How does one teach "art" if one can't define what it is being taught? - by Seth
How does one teach "art" if one can't define what it is being taught?
You break it down to the skills used in the art... create a process and the successful artist will use them accordingly. - by Andrea
No need to teach art Seth.

Selling is not an art (or a science)

It is a craft. It can be taught. If it was an art then only folks who were art(istic) could do it. - by helisell
yes... craft is another good way of describing it...

1: skill in planning, making, or executing : dexterity2 a: an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill <the carpenter's craft> <the craft of writing plays> <crafts such as pottery, carpentry, and sewing> bplural : articles made by craftspeople <a store selling crafts> <a crafts fair>3: skill in deceiving to gain an end <used craft and guile to close the deal>4: the members of a trade or trade association5plural usually craft a: a boat especially of small size b: aircraft c: spacecraft synonyms see art - by Andrea
Selling to me is defined as "motivating a prospect to take action now".

Engaging the client, gaining acceptance and trust, understanding wants and needs, asking for the sale, eliminating resistance, etc. may be necessary to reach that objective but if the prospect is not motivated to take action now there will be no sale. - by Seth
No need to teach art Seth.

Selling is not an art (or a science)

It is a craft. It can be taught. If it was an art then only folks who were art(istic) could do it.
Is that true for Martial Arts, The Art of Strategy, all performing arts,...or are those simply crafts also?

For a guy that has the need to say some people just don't get it, you are showing a deficiency in insight while holding very narrow views. - by Ace Coldiron
Ace, what is your definition of selling? - by Seth
Ace, what is your definition of selling?
If you're looking for semantics, I classify semantics as something people engage in who have nothing better to do with their time. The "FACE" of selling has come to me after over four decades of being one of the top producers in my industry, a winner of national sales contests, a man who once sold 68 percent of all the business among a sales force of 42 over a period of 4 years, a business owner, a trainer in one of the largest direct sales organizations in the world, and a seminar leader in the Art of Strategy. Through THOSE eyes, this is the face of selling I see:
Selling is a business. If you sell for a living, it is your business.

Selling has been described as an art, a profession, a career, an occupation, a science, and even a game. In the right context, those terms are valid. However, the very best producers in sales think of themselves as the CEO's of their own businesses. They act in accordance with their own business choices and business decisions. It follows then that the decisions they make will determine their ultimate success or ultimate failure. The rewards of good decision-making are far-reaching and observable. Equally, the fruits of poor decision-making, or the common reluctance to make personal choices, are often frustration, discouragement, and lesser material rewards.


The arena in which you conduct your business affairs is neither supportive nor appreciative of such uncommon sense as has been described here. The real nature of high-level achievement in sales is seldom taught. Instead, survival skills are taught needlessly. It is one of the reasons that the extraordinary money earners in selling are in such a minority. These individuals make up a small segment whose members, through fortune or circumstance, came to grips with the reality of just what it is that they do.

It is with this knowledge and understanding that an individual can develop a personal strategy for success. Strategic planning in business is paramount. Therefore, it is important for the sales professional to engage in personal strategy sessions on a regular basis. Strategy begins with knowledge. The most important knowledge is about the nature of one's own activities.

You want to play sematics games, go find someone else. - by Ace Coldiron
Thank you for sharing your point of view. thmbp2; - by Seth
Hellooooooo....it's gone awfully quiet in here (echo echo echo)
I know you know the definitive definition helisell. ntwty;

Don't leave me hanging. crp1; - by Seth
Sorry Seth....just been lurking.

Trouble is....the definition is SOOOOOO simple it takes about 20 years to learn it.

Then.....just at that very moment when you have a handle on it.....the truth of it slips through your fingers.

First thing to know is.....selling is something that one person DOES to another person.

Buying on the other hand is done by one person of their own volition.

Ok so what is it we are going to DO to this other party?

Well..... if we are SELLING then we are going to MAKE them do something.

In other words we are going to bring about an actual piece of behaviour (physical usually-signature often)

The thing we are going to make them do is to WANT something.

It can only be selling if the thing we make them WANT...is something WE will provide. (I've seen many 'selling' situations where the salesperson ended up doing a great job for someone else...)

So the definition so far...'To sell is to MAKE someone WANT something that WE have.

Now....I'm assuming that we want to do this ethically?

So the definition must contain something like 'that fits THEIR needs'

So now we have:

'To sell is to MAKE someone WANT something that WE have.....that fits THEIR needs'

......and the definition is almost complete except for........?

Some Background:
Salespeople who don't get orders are not SELLING.
What they do may LOOK LIKE selling but it definitely is not. So all that stuff about cold calling, researching, questioning etc IS NOT SELLING unless.......it results in a SALE.

Are sales meetings and presentations etc selling?

NO. They may fall under the heading 'sales activity' but SELLING has a result 'the SALE' (keep with me...we are nearly there now)

To use an analogy from soccer(we call it football here ;0))
A goalscorer who is passing or dribbling in mid-field is not a goalscorer at that moment. He's only a goalscorer ...well you get the idea.

The word we need to complete the definition is.....NOW!

So: 'To sell...is to make someone want something that we have, that fits their needs. NOW.

This means that when we hear the car salesperson explaining...yeah boss they really want it.....and they'll be back later (sigh) we need to translate it to....no they don't want it.

Once we have made them WANT it.

The job is pretty well done.

Before anyone gets annoyed and says 'too simplistic' or...'we know that'....consider this....

Any activity that gets the potential customer (don't know why we always call them customers before they actually spend money...) to WANT what we have is called selling.......all the other stuff is what brings us to the place where we can do some selling. - by helisell
Does anyone have a definitive definition of 'selling'?

Complete the following sentence 'To sell is...........?'
...to successfully show someone that what you are offering will better and/or benefit thier life/business/home etc. I.e. to motivate them to do something they would not have done that day on thier own.

Lisa - by lisamom
Sorry Seth....just been lurking.

Trouble is....the definition is SOOOOOO simple it takes about 20 years to learn it.
Great post helisell. After reading your definition I might have to adjust my own a little. ntwty;

Thanks for joining in on the thread. thmbp2; - by Seth
Selling to me is defined as "motivating a prospect to take action now".
.
A coupon could do this... - by Andrea

First thing to know is.....selling is something that one person DOES to another person.


'To sell is to MAKE someone WANT something that WE have.....that fits THEIR needs'

Some Background:
Salespeople who don't get orders are not SELLING.
What they do may LOOK LIKE selling but it definitely is not. So all that stuff about cold calling, researching, questioning etc IS NOT SELLING unless.......it results in a SALE.

To use an analogy from soccer(we call it football here ;0))
A goalscorer who is passing or dribbling in mid-field is not a goalscorer at that moment. He's only a goalscorer ...well you get the idea.

The word we need to complete the definition is.....NOW!

So: 'To sell...is to make someone want something that we have, that fits their needs. NOW.

This means that when we hear the car salesperson explaining...yeah boss they really want it.....and they'll be back later (sigh) we need to translate it to....no they don't want it.

Once we have made them WANT it.

The job is pretty well done.

Before anyone gets annoyed and says 'too simplistic' or...'we know that'....consider this....

Any activity that gets the potential customer to WANT what we have is called selling.......all the other stuff is what brings us to the place where we can do some selling.
So really the only thing that could be called selling is closing?

The approach, needs analysis, sales presentation, quoting, answering objections, and trial closing... those are not selling but only closing because that is the only one that matches your definition of now and resulting in a sale?

So if a salesperson works on 6 deals a year (multimillion dollar ones) most of the year they don't sell but only the day that the contract gets signed? That is sellling? - by Andrea
So really the only thing that could be called selling is closing?
You are completely missing his point. :(

This is one of if not the most important lesson in sales. Ignore it at your own peril. :( - by Seth
I have my own sales Philosophy...

I help people buy. Usually by matching their needs to my product/service offerings. I have several tools at my disposal that I use to accomplish this task. ;sm

Works for me. - by Andrea
... to motivate them to do something they would not have done that day on thier own.
I usually sell to people who are in the market. I.e. qualified prospects. Have the decisionmaking power, have a need that my product can fulfill, have the funds to do it and are able to do this now... I call these customers low hanging fruit...

What you suggest would work when there is an unmet need and you are successful at demonstrating them how your offering meets their need. Even so... if they lack the decision power or the financial ability your sale may not happen today. - by Andrea
A coupon could do this...
I took it for granted that we were discussing personal selling. My mistake, I should have been more specific. - by Seth
So really the only thing that could be called selling is closing?

The approach, needs analysis, sales presentation, quoting, answering objections, and trial closing... those are not selling but only closing because that is the only one that matches your definition of now and resulting in a sale?

So if a salesperson works on 6 deals a year (multimillion dollar ones) most of the year they don't sell but only the day that the contract gets signed? That is sellling?
Andrea, I think the thread is going the semantics route again. Actually it may have even started out that way. There's confusion as to whether we are talking about the noun or the verb. Helisel addressed the verb, "to sell." I addressed the noun, Selling, which could be defined as job, art, profession, science, business, etc. The original poster did not clarify.

In my opinion your perspective, which I interpreted from your question, has a lot of substance. Selling---the profession--certainly contains those activities you mentioned. - by Ace Coldiron
I've read some, but not all the definitions because I didn't have time, but I thought I'd share my definition fwiw:

"Sales: the act of generating revenue in exchange for a product or service." - by Skip Anderson
I've read some, but not all the definitions because I didn't have time, but I thought I'd share my definition fwiw:

"Sales: the act of generating revenue in exchange for a product or service."
Skip, how would you define "selling" to someone who knew nothing about it? - by Seth
If I walked into a shop and bought a cigar (revenue has been generated in exchange for a product?) was there any selling? Or did I just buy a cigar.

If you were a sales manager and your team have been out 'selling all day' and came back empty handed....have they been 'selling??'

I wonder...... - by helisell
Skip, how would you define "selling" to someone who knew nothing about it?
Seth:

I would define it the same way. I don't think the definition changes depending upon who's hearing it, does it?

Skip - by Skip Anderson
If I walked into a shop and bought a cigar (revenue has been generated in exchange for a product?) was there any selling? Or did I just buy a cigar.

If you were a sales manager and your team have been out 'selling all day' and came back empty handed....have they been 'selling??'

I wonder......
If you've been into a proper cigar shop, most likely you've sold, because a good cigar shop deals in unique products, hand wrapped cigars, blends, all kinds of neat stuff that are EXPENSIVE... will have people come from hundreds of miles to buy. And they have been "sold".

If you sell vacuum cleaners and you come home empty handed, you probably haven't sold. If you sell insurance, or a host of other products or services, this first day may have been the beginning, the follow up, or leading to the point of recommedation and agreement, they just haven't come in with a signed contract. Most of my DIRECT sales are a four or five meetings.

Worksite sales, on the other hand, are almost 90% two meetings, and it's the second meeting that matters... sn;

Aloha... shds; ;bg - by rattus58
If I walked into a shop and bought a cigar (revenue has been generated in exchange for a product?) was there any selling? Or did I just buy a cigar.

If you were a sales manager and your team have been out 'selling all day' and came back empty handed....have they been 'selling??'

I wonder......
Great question.

I think the person in your scenario IS selling using my definition. He might be doing it poorly, or passively, but he's selling. Could a different person who utilized different selling behaviors sell more? Yes. Sell far more? Yes. But either way, it's selling. There's great selling and poor selling, but it doesn't change the definition of selling.

They're great bicycling (think Tour de France) and menial bicycling (think me), but it's still bicycling.

Thoughts?

Skip - by Skip Anderson
I would define it the same way. I don't think the definition changes depending upon who's hearing it, does it?
The same way? Did you already provide your definition of "selling" and I missed it? :dun - by Seth
The same way? Did you already provide your definition of "selling" and I missed it? :dun
Yes, go back six posts I believe.

skip - by Skip Anderson
Yes, go back six posts I believe.

skip
You did give your definition of "sales". Do you have a different definition for "selling"? - by Seth
You did give your definition of "sales". Do you have a different definition for "selling"?
Seth,

No I don't. The same definition works for me. - by Skip Anderson
Yes, go back six posts I believe.

skip
The idea that sales and selling are related, must be pretty avant guard... :)

Aloha... shds; ;bg - by rattus58
Weekly Updates!
Questions and Answers about Selling
Subscribe to our mailing list to get threads and posts sent to your email address weekly - Free of Charge.