Marketplace insights


In business a good salesperson can be worth their weight in gold. Salesmanship is often considered a specialized field. Having a great product or service won’t mean much if you can’t get anyone to buy from you. You must consistently promote your product or service and work to seek out customers. Making sales is what will help keep your business prospering. Strong sales and marketing skills can not only provide professional benefits, but can be very important in many other aspects of life as well.

It can be difficult to find and keep good salespeople, and with today’s economy we might be restricted on our staffing options, so as business owners or managers we may find ourselves with the responsibility of selling and promoting our goods and services, a very important necessity to keep our organizations growing and thriving. It is easy to see why improving our sales skills would certainly be worth the time and effort.

First let us start with the idea of selling. We should consider that whether we know it or not, we sell things every day, in both our professional and private lives. It is not just about selling goods, but about selling our talents, our ideas, and anything that could be of interest or benefit to us. In our home environment we might find ourselves selling education to our children “stay in school and keep up your grades,” in our community we might sell the idea of keeping our culture alive and active by holding special events. And in our social lives we might promote our companionship or company to others. “Want to go to a movie with me? – it will be fun!” Persuading or convincing others to buy into what we are selling or promoting can be both a natural and an acquired skill.

Some of the important characteristics of an effective salesperson include: Assertiveness, good communicator, sensitive to others, impressionable, charming and among the not-so-admirable traits are; pushy, persistent and extremely persuasive. Some of these characteristics (particularly the later) are not traditional traits or shared values for most Natives. We are taught to be more humble, and less intrusive, showing great patience and respect for one’s needs and interests or in the sales realm, lack of interest in your product or service. Balancing out our traditional values and developing and using modern business concepts can be a challenging task but with some tactfully implemented sales skills a good effective strategy can be developed.

One of the important principals in business marketing is based on the idea that you should match up your product or service with those in need. Seek out potential customers for your product or service, and learn about their lifestyle, their interests and most importantly their buying habits. Then you can effectively promote your product or service based on that need and interest. You might say something like: “Here are the benefits to you.” Point out how your product or service will specifically help them, not just how great it is in general. This is also a good tip for promoting and selling ideas in your personal life. People are often most interested in how something can help or benefit them, rather than how wonderful it is.

It is also important to connect with your customer, be friendly, develop a relationship, try to get to know them and make them feel like they can trust you. How many times have you been motivated to buy a product or service because you liked the salesperson? Always be honest and sincere, have knowledge of your product or service. Don’t promise things that aren’t true. Ethics are another important concept in business. In today’s market environment, consumers are not only more knowledgeable but more conservative and conscientious about their purchases.

These tips might be worth considering and implementing when you are charged with selling and promoting your work products and services, but consider them when you are attempting to promote your personal interests as well. Having strong interpersonal skills is one of the key factors to ones success, particularly in today’s environment. Your Native business or organization can certainly benefit as well.

Lucinda Hughes-Juan has many years of teaching and training in the fields of business and management, with a focus on the cultural dynamics in Native businesses and organizations. She is an enrolled member of the Tohono O’odham Nation. She holds an MBA in global management, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in business and organizational management. E-mail her at