So, have you ever wondered why we call it ‘sales’?

Well it turns out that the word comes from the Germanic and Old Norse word ‘sala’ which then filtered through to Old English as well.

According to it means this:

late Old English sala “a sale, act of selling,” from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse sala “sale,” from Proto-Germanic *salo (source also of Old High German sala, Swedish salu, Danish salg), from PIE root *sal- (3) “to grasp, take.” Sense of “a selling of shop goods at lower prices than usual” first appeared 1866. Sales tax attested by 1886. Sales associate by 1946. Sales representative is from 1910.

It’s interesting that some sources believe that Sala meant ‘to serve’ whilst in this definition, it comes from the root ‘to grasp’. Slightly different viewpoints for sure!

Now what about ‘selling’

Again, let’s go to etymonline and Old Engish:

Old English sellan “to give, furnish, supply, lend; surrender, give up; deliver to; promise,” from Proto-Germanic *saljanan “offer up, deliver” (source also of Old Norse selja “to hand over, deliver, sell;” Old Frisian sella, Old High German sellen “to give, hand over, sell;” Gothic saljan “to offer a sacrifice”),

Whereas Wiktionary defines it thus:

From Middle English sellen, from Old English Sellan (“give; give up for money”),

So in actual fact, these definitions are pretty positive and modern day sales people will probably appreciate that they are giving, furnishing, supplying or delivering ‘for money’. That doesn’t sound so bad does it?

But there is a flip side to this.

If you do an online search of ‘phrases using the word SELL’, what are the top phrases that pop up?

Sell someone down the river: this refers to slaves being sold in the Mississippi region of America. Slaves who were ‘trouble’ were sold from the northern slaves states into the much harsher conditions on the plantations ‘down’ the Mississippi River. The phrase later became a way of explaining deception or cheating.

To sell out: this can mean literally everything has been sold (like tickets or goods) but it also means a betrayal of one’s own principles for something (probably money)

Sell your soul: (also Sell your soul to the devil) this refers to a person doing something bad in order to get what they want – probably money or other reward. The reference is about individuals getting what they want in this life, but ultimately allowing the devil to receive their souls for all eternity

To sell short: this is about undervaluing something and selling it below the correct price, but has translated into underestimating a person and their qualities and failing to see what is good about them

Wow – talk about negative!

So this raises some possibilities about why sales is sometimes considered to be slightly unpleasant and an industry with lots of fraud and misinformation. Or perhaps you would view it more strongly than that. If you say the phrase ‘used car salesman’ or ‘double glazing salesman’ or even ‘timeshare’ I’m sure you will automatically get a very strong negative image in your head.

But it shouldn’t be like that. So to finish, I like to think of this definition of sales as being the best one

“Helping customers make an informed buying decision based on facts, which leads to a win/win”

That will do me any day of the week!

Happy selling!

If you would like a no-obligation chat with me about sales training or coaching in your business, let’s chat. Here is a link to my diary or call me on 07748 994 334

error: Content is protected !!