Selfishness, Sales, and the Sad Excuses We Try to Justify.

Selling has evolved into a Grade-A contact sport. We might like to call it negotiation or client strategy or creating "winning solutions". But it's something much more personal.

It's a battle of wits.

Where losing isn't as simple as putting three more quarters in the video console.

You're done.

It's over.

Go home.

And so it's only natural that selling is deeply personal.

The customer pushes. You push back.

Sometimes you push the customer before they even do anything. You're so used to getting pushed that it's just a natural selfish reaction.

And instead of selfish behavior simply being our defense mechanism, it's become our main offensive move.

It's how we qualify our opportunities. It's the attitude behind our presentations.

Selfish behavior, it seems, has become a way of life for those of us in the revenue generation business.

And for the longest time, any discussion of selfishness in selling has been met with denial.

And not just denial.

Selfish behavior has almost become a badge of honor. We decry anything else as altruism. And then try to draw the connection to inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

But it's time to call out the ridiculousness of this discussion.

It's time to take a long hard look at the excuses we use for our poor behavior.

Here are a few:

1. The customer is selfish so it's only smart for me to be that way too.

Growing up we had mothers ask us: "If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?. But years later in our business suits and wing tips, we use the exact same argument to justify our behavior.

Being selfish just because we suspect someone else might be is just paranoid, mental weakness. Why not just walk down the street punching everybody in the face because someone, somewhere might sneak up and hurt you? It's just not a good plan.

And as for customers who act selfishly, just remember. You don't have to work with jerks. You think you do. You think your quarterly quota depends on it. But it's all in your head.

Preemptive selfishness isn't a plan for success. It's a one-way ticket to failure.

2. I am who I am. Changing makes me fake.

Maybe you need to be a fake. Maybe the "real you" needs some therapy.

Yes, it is natural to be selfish. At the core of our brain is the need to fight for our own well-being.

That makes sense. It's who we were programmed to be.

But it's not who we need to be.

The excuse that we are who we are and that we can't improve is absurd.

You wouldn't accept that excuse from a child molester, serial killer, or cheating spouse, so why the heck does it make any sense in business.

Changing doesn't make you fake. It makes you better.

3. Being selfish actually contributes to my own healthy development.

Looking out for your own interests is the beginning of accomplishing great things. If you aren't in control of your own destiny, then you don't have much to live for. Passively acting on conventional wisdom or social peer pressure is just hopeless, heartless mental madness

But like a lot of things, too much of a good thing is pretty horrible. Which leads me to another question.

How much selfishness is a good thing?

Not much, right?

Air is good for your personal development. (Heck, you'll need a lot of it over the next few minutes.) But pulling in too much air too fast starves your brain of the resource you so desperately need.

It's not healthy any way you look at it.

4. It's impossible to not be selfish.

Nothing is impossible. Some things are easy, others annoying and difficult, still others frightfully tasking. But nothing is impossible.

That's just a core belief of any high-performer. If everything isn't possible why try anything?

Here's the bigger concern for most of us -- nothing happens "over night". And because we can't see it happening quickly, we write it off as impossible.

And that's just sad. There's not much of anything amazing that happens quickly or easily. It's the impossible tasks that we later look to as the most transformational.

Selfishness doesn't have to be a way of life.

It's hard to look past your own fears and failures and give to others.  It's hard to not get jaded by past pain.

But easy isn't our goal in the first place.

Selling something is.

And selfishness doesn't need to be a part of that.