Is the phrase “Humble Salesman” an oxymoron?

This post will be a little offbeat compared to previous ones.  This post is less about the process of how to sell to an educational audience, which I’ve been writing about quite a bit.  This post is more about the attitude one has when selling.

As always, full disclosure.  I’ve never held a full-time sales or marketing position, so I’m learning on my feet as I try to sell, or even simply to try, my Mootup product.  I’m also a Christian. That matters for this subject because I’ve been pondering the attitude that it seems like some need to have to successfully sell in certain markets.  Christianity, along with several other religions for that matter, places a high value on humility.   Christians are expected to serve others and be humble.  The Bible also closely aligns humility with wisdom.  That the wise man is quicker to listen, and demonstrates true humility.  This isn’t unique just to Christianity obviously.

Now in some sales roles, particularly those where customers come to you (which sounds GREAT to me right now), it seems that salespeople can take on a more consultative approach.  I can easily see how a consultative sales approach can easily be reconciled with humility.  It also seems to me though that many sales roles require a certain amount of aggression, and many people even take this so far as to be very negative about competitors.

I don’t think this will be a specific problem for me in the educational arena as my product does not have any direct competitors, leaving me to try to create my own market.  But that will also require a certain amount of aggression, and confidence when speaking about the product.  I believe that confidence and humility can co-exist, but it is a bit of a tightrope to walk.

Aside from my specific situation though, what do you think?  How does the concept of humility, as valued by many religions and cultures, mix with the aggression and cockiness that certain types of sales roles seem to require?

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