3 Tips to Sell Without Selling Out


By Katherine Perrin

I have a very interesting and unique job. Everyday I have the privilege of interacting with students, professors, colleges and universities, but what makes it unique is my mandate to sell them on why they should participate in a nationwide sales competition. The sell is not easy – sales has a large stigma associated with it, and some people don’t think that it is a real skill; others don’t think that it is a very sexy career choice. This is a clear problem and my job is to illustrate how sales is so much more than what they think it is.

Sales is the second highest advertised job nationally, so there has been a huge effort in the past couple of years to change students’ misconceptions about a career in sales. We are watching this shift happen and that is in large part due to initiatives like the Great Canadian Sales Competition (where over 3,500 students participated this year!) and professors integrating sales education into their curriculum.

Through my efforts selling the Great Canadian Sales Competition to thousands of students and professors coast-to-coast, I have learned a lot in the way I present this opportunity. In my early days I experienced a lot of direction, but with some failure, I revitalized my strategy and then began to see quite a bit of success. So, with that being said, please see below for a list of my 3 main sales tips that help me in my day-to-day conversations.

Tip 1: Don’t have the same pitch for everyone

Although this tip may seem simple at a first glance, it is often overlooked. This technique is known as what you call the “before” sale. Do your research and understand your audience and how they work, before trying to sell them on something. There are unlimited resources to get information — so there is no reason why you shouldn’t already know about your prospect.

What I have learned:

This tip has been very useful for the Great Canadian Sales Competition’s ambassador program, as we task our ambassador force to sell their fellow students on participating in the GCSC. If a complete stranger walked up to you and asked you to pitch something in 30-90 seconds, you would most likely say no. However, our ambassadors get to know their prospects by asking them a series of questions about themselves. This not only builds rapport, but it provides the necessary background information for them to create a baseline for their “pitch”.

Tip 2: Show them why before what

Don’t start with what — start with why. Why does your business solve a problem? Why does your organization exist? Why are you the best? This last tip is based on Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Theory where he emphasizes how the “why” is an impactful way to communicate and inspire others to act. Every business knows what they do or what their products do.

However, learning to communicate why you do what you do is a different ball game. So, why is this the best place to start? It creates a connection with your audience and allows them to make well thought out decisions.

What I have learned:

This year with the GCSC, we began a project where we started working with school partners to implement the GCSC into their curriculum. Before speaking with our potential school partners about what the competition is, we always speak to why Sales Talent Agency created the competition and more specifically why it’s helping to alleviate a problem that students are facing. Why do we do this? It allows us to build a connection with our audience and allows them to buy into why the competition is important.

Tip 3: Be passionate about what you do

Simply put, if you don’t believe in what you do why would anyone else? People can very easily tell if you don’t believe in what you are selling. So don’t fake it until you make it — invest into a career where you are genuinely interested in what your business has to offer.

What I have learned:

Each summer my team works toward hiring 150 student ambassadors. As part of the interview process we have them submit a video telling us why they want to be a part of the program. This process not only allows us to hold them accountable to completing a task, but it also gives us insight to their passion towards the program. Through this we can very quickly see whether or not someone is genuinely excited or enthusiastic about working with our project.  

Please reach out to me with any questions about the Great Canadian Sales Competition. We’d love to hear from you!