Say this 4 Letter Word Every Day

Eric Frankel

After 16 years of running my own business, I've become comfortable embracing a word, a theme and a way of thinking that most find intimidating.

The word is "sell." Very simple. No dictionary required here. Most business and HR leaders would agree that sell is crucial to driving revenues, attracting and assessing key talent, stimulating growth and expanding client relationships.


While we may have consensus on the criticality of selling, we do not apply it nearly enough in our own actions. To many, sell represents a hands-off, almost seedy element of business best left to others. Seven out of of ten business professionals tell me they need to better understand, embrace and practice the art of selling. My mentoring incorporates, for many, the enhanced utilization of sales tactics in everyday business interactions. Strong interpersonal relationships throughout every level and function in an organization are predicated on the ability to sell one’s virtues and ideas to others who are just as selfishly motivated as you (and maybe even more.)

Consistent with the paths commandeered by the great authors Dale Carnegie in the 1940s, and more recently, Zig Ziegler, sell is a trait that differentiates the "haves" from the "have nots". Sell, in the modern day form, encompasses confidence, empathy, approachability, consistency, respect, likability and embodies the essence of what good leadership is all about. Sell is being appropriately (not obnoxiously) persistent, asking the extra question, listening intently and being open minded to others views. Sell is about learning from those you don’t know or those you don’t know well enough. Professionals who understand the art of selling don’t look at rejected ideas as defeats, but as opportunities to seek new angles and hone in on at a more opportune moment.

Ted Tafaro, CEO of Exceptional Risk Advisors, states, "You must often rework and pitch even great ideas multiple times; effective communication, timing and a bit of luck are all huge components of effective selling."

Sell is a key concept in every facet of talent management. Sell differentiates high potentials vs. mid-level performers. Sell captivates and lands the best candidates for recruiting purposes and sell raises performance levels beyond expectations.

In a recent mentoring session, I counseled a frustrated marketing director whose ideas were not being heard by senior level executives within one of the divisions. She knew marketing campaigns would improve if these executives were more open to her ideas. I suggested she sell these ideas individually in a casual lunch setting rather than battle the strong personalities in a group meeting. This sales tactic of one on one communication created increase collaboration and a higher level of respect for the marketing director’s skills. New marketing ideas are now being heard and implemented to impact both short and long term division revenues.

Sell is also a required mentality in every phase of job search; the job seeker who is creative, passionate and appropriately persistent in differentiating their personal brand and captivating the prospective employer increases their likelihood of being recognized, interviewed and ultimately hired.

A neighbor recently shared a story about her son, a freshman at a local community college who loves fancy cars. He walked into a high-end car dealer recently and asked for the job without even knowing if a job was available. They liked his car (an older Nissan sports car) and asked him if he has any infractions to his driver’s license (which he didn’t). After an interview and background check, he was hired to transport vehicles within the New York Metropolitan area. Everyone is happy and better off because, at the ripe age of 20, he understood the immense and underutilized value of sell.

So what did you sell today? What are you going to sell and to whom tomorrow? The time is now to overcome your obstacles to sell or help others to do so. Experience the rewards and gratification of taking risks, acting out of your box, and sell! Carnegie, Ziegler and most importantly—you— would be so proud.