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Robert Bell

Who Taught You That Selling is Evil?

Selling doesn’t equal persuasion.




Who Taught You That Selling is Evil?

WELL, OF COURSE selling sucks. It’s just plain evil. It’s awful and horrible. It’s despicable. Seriously, it’s just atrocious and immoral. And, it’s beneath you! It would have to be all those things according to what most of you, as eyecare professionals, tell me. When asked to define selling in an EyeCoach survey, here are a handful of responses from some of your peers:

  • “Selling is pushing someone to purchase something they may not need.” 
  • “Selling is convincing a person to buy something from you.”
  • “Selling is persuading a person to buy an item you’re trying to profit off of.” 
  • “Selling is trying to get money from someone to buy something they don’t want or need.” 
  • “Selling is trying to deceive someone to get their money.”

Yikes. These are actual responses! Now ironically, selling is necessary. If there weren’t any sales, none of us would have jobs. So, selling a product and/or service is necessary. But is it a necessary evil?

Well, it probably is if you subscribe to one of the definitions above, or have a negative perception in your head about what you think selling is. And you probably do because negative perceptions and definitions about selling is all we’ve been taught.

Most of us believe the notion that selling is all about persuading someone to buy something. Selling = Persuasion. Do you personally like to be persuaded? Yeah, neither do I … and neither do your customers.

So if Selling = Persuasion and most people don’t like to be persuaded, then of course Selling is evil. Selling sucks!

Uh oh, so what do we do now?


How about changing the definition of “selling” so it’s not so hideous and evil?

Try this on for size: Selling is helping someone acquire something they need.  

Isn’t that truly a natural extension of who you are as an eyecare professional? Helping someone acquire what they need?  

Selling has nothing to do with persuasion. As an eyecare professional, persuading a patient to buy something is laborious, painstakingly frustrating and makes you feel like you need a shower to wash away the stench of being a “salesperson.”

Here’s a quote I love:

“It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s not even how you play the game. It’s how you feel about yourself after the game has been played.” — Anna Quindlen


So I guess my question becomes this: What will make you feel better after playing “the game,” persuading someone of something or helping them acquire what they need?

Of course, the choice is always up to you. Me? I’m just trying to make your life a little easier. 

Amongst the other things Robert Bell does in the eye care industry, he helps to oversee the Vision Services Program for California CareForce and inspires others to volunteer in their own communities throughout the United States. You may contact him at or send him a message on The Vision Volunteers page on Facebook.


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