To Sell Is Human

I wouldn’t ever identify myself as ‘sales’. Whilst I enjoy the challenge of asking presentation skills workshop attendees to select an item from the room, talk about it for 5mins and ‘sell’ it… it’s still not sales. Or am I tarring sales with the brush that painted the door-to-door knockers that don’t pause when I say I’m busy working from home? Or the cashier who asks me 3 times if I want to open a store card, even though my first answer was “no, thank you”.

What I am good at is listening. I can’t sell you snow if you’re an eskimo but I can hear from listening to you, what you might actually want and need to fulfil your goal, purpose, ambition. Brighten your day. Make your life a little richer. Make your work a little easier. Help your people collaborate more. Make your business better. Be more, greater, improve, develop, grow. I can plant a seed, share a reflective insight, and offer a conversation towards possibilities, ideas and solutions. And despite our obvious passion at See Learning Films, the answer is not necessarily video, or video as you know it.


Dan Pink would argue that we are all in sales, even if you don’t want to be. That to sell, is human (I’m inviting you to read and learn more about his thoughts and theory, rather than wholly agreeing). We are all trying to influence another person, to exchange something. Whether that’s an idea, a concept, a service or time. Pink argues that educators are selling new knowledge, skills and behaviours. We engage by listening to identify needs and find a way to offer something: a useful and helpful solution to fulfill the need, gap, problem, or function.


Trickery? Manipulation? …how do we do this most ethically?


A needs and functional approach is embedded in positive/humanistic psychology. I’m talking viewing people and people-related situations and systems from an appreciative, strength focused approach. Viewing problems as need deficit (gap) and recognising that the people or the system hold the solution within. Finding this, and growing it. This means as a provider of film for learning we operate as enablers e.g. we provide workshops enabling organisations to shoot and edit their own video content.


So is consulting ethical selling? If consulting isn’t ethical… is it still consulting?


Last week we joined marketeers, presenters, speakers and many people who are interested in learning and technology (cobinatively) at Europe’s largest event of it’s kind: Learning Technologies 2018 (Olympia, London – moving to ExCel for 2019).


Did you go? What did you find? And most importantly, what did you learn?


We learnt that:

  1. Water is an undervalued resource easily taken for granted, especially when running water and a flushing toilet feature on our Maslow basic essentials (as highlighted here by Matt Damon and Ellen Degeneres ). Olympia had ‘no water’ issues on Day 1 and as exhibitors there was no opportunity to fill your reusable water bottle. By mid-morning on Day 2 Tesco (across the road) had zero bottles of water available. (Business idea: a water stand outside of Olympia selling bottles of water for less than 200% profit and you will still make a killing – you’re welcome).
  2. Alcohol was readily available via a free bar (which did have running water) for exhibitors after the show on Day 1
  3. People walking around the exhibition would rather not be targeted and ‘zapped’ to add their email to a subscriber list and then spend the next 2 weeks (months…) having to unsubscribe from mail-chimp newsletters they didn’t ask for
  4. That people want to enter the exhibition for free and approach exhibitors to sell to them – a sitting duck audience
  5. That a large exhibition with some stands reaching the ceiling with brightly coloured signs can be overwhelming…
  6. That people want to connect with people
  7. That the best learning technology is enabling and fills a need for people to be better at work/life/learning
  8. That a seat, and a cup of Yorkshire tea are probably THE BEST and only items you need on your exhibition stand (and perhaps a biscuit too – I’m on this for next year)


Our favourite bit of feedback: “you are exactly the kind of people we want to work with”


It ain’t what you do… it’s the way that you do it.


We are anthropology, film-making, humanistic psychology, learning, development, design and we want to work with you too!

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