Lack of Customer Awareness

A high level of customer awareness is critical in all situations. Here are some scenarios to avoid:

  • Driving a Hertz rental car to a meeting with an Avis custom- er. (You might also want to hide your Kia in the parking lot, if your meeting is with Ford.)
  • Ordering a Pepsi for lunch with a client from Coca-Cola. (Although, it’s likely that the Coca-Cola people wouldn’t eat lunch in a restaurant that served Pepsi.)
  • Sending a FedEx package to your customers at UPS.
  • Wearing a Burberry scarf to a presentation at L.L. Bean.

While it may seem implausible, these scenarios happen often, especially to new professionals who haven’t yet developed their customer awareness.

From Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills

Reading List: To Sell Is Human – The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel Pink

Why read this book? Ranked a top seller by the New York Times, Washington Post and e Wall Street Journal, To Sell is Human explains sales 108 in a way that applies to everyone—in every field. Pink, the author of Drive and A Whole New Mind, is an exceptional writer and lays out a convincing argument as to why “moving others” is a critically important skill in your career and your life.

LinkedIn Official Blog

There is no better source of information about the most important professional networking platform in the world than the LinkedIn Official Blog. If you want to learn more about LinkedIn, go right to the source. There are hundreds of blog posts arranged by topic and searchable by keyword.

Reading List: How to Really Used LinkedIn by Jan Vermeiren


Why read the book? This book is written for a broad audience—from the LinkedIn novice to the advanced user—and includes instruction on using the tool and detailed strategies for creating your profile, building your own professional network, and engaging with groups. You can download a full copy of the book for free and access tools, videos, webinars, and self-assessment tools.

Developing negotiation skills

There is a lot of overlap between the skills you use for sales and those you use to negotiate. Both are art forms that also include specific techniques that can be employed to track, manage, and complete the transaction (otherwise known as “close” the sale). But neither is a science with exact steps and a “one size fits all” solution. Good negotiation skills provide a great foundation for developing good sales skills.

With both sales and negotiations, remember that you will improve with practice. Like the other skills in this book, sales and negotiation skills can be learned and practiced. Basic principles for good negotiations include:

  • Fostering a win-win attitude for all parties involved.
  • Asking GOOD questions and being a GREAT listener. Taking the time necessary to intelligently consider others.
  • Being flexible and looking for compromise solutions.
  • Recognizing the negotiation styles and techniques being employed by others.
  • Understanding the cultural issues at play. Organizational cultures and personal cultures (nationality or ethnicity-based) may play a role in negotiations.

You may have had the opportunity to practice your negotiation skills as you entered the job market. ink back to when you were first interviewing. You were the product that you were trying to sell. You did your best to sell your skills and accomplishments to a prospective employer. You presented your resume and explained your past achievements. You demonstrated how you would be a valuable member of the team.

This post was adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills.

Using sales and negotiation skills in your own career

There are many opportunities in your career to employ the same underlying skills used by the salesperson at the car dealer or the telemarketer who tries to convince you to switch television services. If you’ve convinced yourself that you are not in “sales,” how will you recognize these opportunities as just that—opportunities? Still not convinced? Take a look at the following lists and decide how many of these situations you’re likely to encounter over your career.


  • Selling your skills in a job interview.
  • Pitching your ideas to a client.
  • Selling your work product—making the case that your report/ presentation/analysis/design is better than your colleague’s.
  • Demonstrating your organization’s potential value to an angel investor.


  • Justifying a salary increase.
    Seeking an internal job change.
  • Convincing your manager that you deserve a promotion.
  • Persuading your boss that you’ve earned some additional vacation.
  • Requesting access to a training program or reimbursement for a part-time MBA.
  • Making the case for you to work flexible hours.

If you are not in a formal sales function, you probably have no training in negotiations or sales skills. It’s up to you to become familiar with the basics so that you can sell yourself, your work, and your ideas or to negotiate with managers, clients, and vendors.

This post was adapted from Carer-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills.

How does your role relate to sales in your organization?

Do you understand how your role relates to the sales function of your organization? Remember “sales” includes the delivery of goods or services. For example, if you work for a non-profit that runs sports camps for at-risk, inner-city youth, “sales” might include the programs at the camp. If you work for a national political campaign, “sales” may include a voter-registration drive or a town hall meeting.

Even if your job function doesn’t directly involve sales, when you are a part of any business organization that sells products or delivers services, it is important to have a high-level understanding of the sales function or the way your organization delivers it’s products or services. e sales function is the engine that drives every organization. Delivering products or services to customers, clients, and constituents is at the core of the mission for every company, government agency, school, or non-profit organization.

Sometimes even the smartest new professionals don’t realize that everything they do in the workplace is related to sales or the delivery of a service.  That service may include healthcare, government regulation, entertainment, or consulting. If you’re in a marketing role, you’re providing your sales team with the materials they need to sell or market a product. If you write for a print magazine, your stories help sell your magazine’s brand to advertisers.

This post was adapted from Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career.

Everyone is in sales (Yes, EVERYONE!)

“Who is currently in or will be in a sales role for their company or organization?” is a question I often ask new professionals. A few people will indicate yes. But the percentage of those who recognize that at least part of their job involves sales is small. “I’m not in sales, so why do I need to learn how to sell and negotiate?” is a very common response.

I admit this is a bit of a trick question, but it is crucial to recognize that everyone is in sales. Your primary function may not be to sell products and services, but everyone needs to sell their ideas, their points of view, and their abilities. You are al- ways selling (or negotiating) something, no matter your role or job function.

Learn to recognize the opportunities when you employ these skills. Such times may be the greatest opportunities for career advancement.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 6: Sales and Negotiation Skills. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.

Reading List – Clear and to the Point: 8 Psychological Principles for Compelling PowerPoint Presentations by Stephen M. Kosslyn

Why read this book? Kosslyn is a renowned cognitive neuroscientist and pro- fessor of psychology at Harvard University. This book provides eight simple principles for designing a presentation based upon the human perception, memory, and cognition. While rooted in science, this book provides practical advice. It includes hun- dreds of images and sample slides that illustrate the principles. If you use PowerPoint as a regular part of your job, you MUST read this book.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 5: Public Speaking & Presentation Skills. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.



The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Powerpoint – 7 Tips

Although Microsoft PowerPoint is a useful tool and the standard for most presentations, its overuse can do more harm than good. Avoid common pitfalls by following these suggestions:

  1. Use separate slides to emphasize your key points.
  2. Include no more than two-dozen words per slide.
  3. Never read directly from your PowerPoint screen. Don’t use the words on the screen as a crutch.
  4. Choose a font large enough for your audience to read without binoculars.
  5. If you have a lot of details to convey, provide a separate document (printed or electronic) after the presentation.
  6. Don’t overload your PowerPoint presentations with links to videos, cartoons, music, or other graphics. If you include any of these features, thoroughly test the technology and have a solid back-up plan if the internet connection fails.
  7. If you turn off all the lights, your audience may nod off. Instead, turn off only the lights nearest the screen, so the en- tire room isn’t dark.

Adapted from my book, Career-ology: The Art and Science of a Successful Career, Chapter 5: Public Speaking & Presentation Skills. Click here to download 2 chapters of the book for free. Available on Amazon today.