The shame of selling.

This is more of a citation post to tackle the problem of selling in our neoliberal turbocapitalistic world. A part of “The Book Of Life” from the educational project “School of Life” in London makes a point about a weakness in such a society always suspecting a financial angel or gain: the good selling, or selling the right, just things which need to get done:

The Shame of Selling

A lot of the reasons why our efforts to sell things go wrong is an underlying feeling that ‘selling’ is a bad thing to do. We’ve internalised an image of selling drawn from capitalism’s worst moments, which gives rise to a suspicion that selling somehow injures those to whom we sell.Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman – first performed in 1949 – is full of pathos and compassion climaxing around the death of Willy Loman, the exhausted, disappointed, middle-aged salesman of the title. The play has been hugely successful, moving audiences from Broadway to China to tears. We feel Willy was an ordinary, good-enough man – who deserved but didn’t get a fair share of happiness and fulfilment. His life as a salesman left him crumpled and defeated. He never accomplished anything; his life was wasted. ‘Salesman’ becomes the name of a person who lived a crummy, inauthentic life.


It’s easy to paint a grim portrait of the salesperson: someone constantly looking out for some way to take advantage of whomever they meet and trying to sell friends and strangers things they can’t afford. A salesperson is someone whose smile can’t be trusted; someone living a life of lies.But in truth, the moral status of a salesperson isn’t fixed, it all depends on the value of what they are selling. When a doctor urgently recommends surgery to the stomach, we don’t think of this as an act of ‘salesmanship,’ because the procedure (though it might make money for many people along the way) seems plainly and objectively necessary.


The bad image of selling is a consequence of the experience of selling stuff that is unaligned to people’s genuine needs: like too many Krispy Kreme donuts or a Cotoletta Veneziana in a tourist-trap restaurant off the Grand Canal.We’ve got many vivid pictures of dishonourable selling. But we don’t yet have a correspondingly clear sense of the honourable version. Good selling means uniting an audience with things it really requires to flourish, which means that there is a lot more scope for honest selling than we are perhaps currently ready to acknowledge.Honourable salesmanship requires a sense of the possibility of honourable capitalism. This doesn’t mean a world in which we’re only trying to sell organic beans and rope sandals. Many companies are already doing good – they’re selling reliable dishwashers and nicely designed garden furniture, good quality skin moisturiser or excellent paper clips. But even these companies often have an unhelpful sense of what they need to tell the world in order to sell their products – and in the process, they lose sight of the good they actually do. Good salesmanship starts with a feeling that there can be such a thing as selling someone something they really require to flourish. 


It means overcoming the shame of being in sales.


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