Thoughts on Word Origins and Sales

At our Home Pro’s meeting today we talked about a blog I read recently. The blog posting was about an emergence/reemergence of consumer preferences to spend their dollars on more custom products rather than boilerplate homogenous consumer drivel that is available in every mall across the US and 5 people on your block might have the same products in their homes as you. You don’t have to look long and far to witness this either. Look at the local emergence of Farmers markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and other person to person product exchanges. This might suggest that consumers want to have more control of what they put in their homes and in front of their families and are willing to support an economy driven by a primary level of exchange rather than middlemen and uniformity.

This led to a discussion of craftsmanship and I was reminded of a dinner conversation I was part of one time with some acquaintances who were complaining bitterly about the declining quality of craftsmanship in the trades and that there just isn’t the level of “craftsmanship” like there used to be etc. This tirade came up because one couple recently had a very poorly done remodeling project on their home. She chose the materials and directed the project herself without the input of a designer or architect and of course they chose the cheapest contractor they could find and of course it turned out considerably less than what they were expecting both in terms of the design and materials which of course were as cheap as they could find as well. I maintained that “Craftsmanship” is a 3 way marriage between, function, economy and skill but they weren’t buying it or conceding that the choices of materials, design and the cheapest contractor might have contributed to their disappointment.

So after our Home Pros meeting today I was curious about the etymology of the word “craftsman” so I dredged up a little history of the origins of the word and as it turns out craeft in old English it has origins relating to “power, physical strength and might”. At some point the word expanded to include notions of, “skill, art, science and talent via notions of mental power which eventually led to the use of “trade, handicraft, and calling. From these definitions I suppose an argument could be made that we are all “craftsmen” of our own worlds but I have been at times virtually gob smacked by the skills required and the time that it takes to sell ourselves as entrepreneurs and small business owners.

So for grins I looked up the origins of the word “sell” while I was cruising for info and its origins from Old English is “to give, hand over or to offer a sacrifice or betray someone to an enemy”. The idea eventually found its way into common usage by c.1000 with meaning to “give up for money” which is probably our relationships to what selling means to us. So perhaps Howard Howell, That Sales Guy is not far off the mark and is correct when he encourages not to sell a product or service but rather ask ourselves what kind of problem can we solve for a prospective client.

  • "Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm.”

    ~ Earl Nightingale

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