Stop selling!

Sales I’ve had this conversation about four times in the recent weeks.  All with different people, marketing different products or services.  But they all started out the same.

"I’m not closing very many sales.  What am I doing wrong?"  In digging a little deeper, it was inevitable that what the marketer was doing wrong was pushing for the sale. 

People will buy what they decide they want to buy.  They will not buy what you’re selling. Your job as a marketer is not to sell.  Your job is to help the customer want to buy.  A distinct difference.

Sellers talk.  They have a pre-ordained speech that they offer up to potential customers.  They know how to weave in the features.  They might even have a favorite customer success story or two to tell.  They’ve got a great graph that clearly highlights the superiority of their product over the competitors.  They’re sincere.  They believe in their product and genuinely want to help their customers.

So what’s wrong with that?

One thing is missing.  The customer.  In that cavalcade of talking, there was very little listening.  There weren’t questions asked. For the most part, it could have taken place without the customer being present.  And that’s the key word.  Present.

To be a good salesperson, which let’s face it, is what a marketer is – we must be present.

Being present means that you start by listening.  And when you’re done listening, you ask a few questions.  Which demands more listening.  And you repeat that pattern until the person either says one of two things.  They either say thank you and goodbye or they ask if you will sell them your product.

What would happen if you didn’t push for the close but instead let your customer push for it?

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6 comments on “Stop selling!

  1. You hit the nail right on the head, Drew. Build the relationship with your (potential and existing) customers. Encourage them to “buy into your Brand” – while at the same time becoming part of their Brand. It’s a push and pull relationship. Eventually, if the relationship is to continue, the Brand will sell itself.

    Keep Cooking!

  2. Drew,

    Mahan Khalsa says selling is the second oldest profession, often confused with the first! He has written one of the best “sales books” ever written (Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play) . It echos much of what you’re saying. People know when they’re being sold…and nobody wants to be sold!

  3. I thought of the Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play too. This also likens to the idea from Seth Godin’s permission marketing. He recently (as I’m sure you are aware) posted something similar in ‘reaching the unreachable’. He says..

    “If I want a book review, I’ll go read one. If I want to learn about turntables, I’ll go do that. Mass is still seductive, but mass is now so expensive, marketers are balking at buying it (notice how thin Time Magazine is these days? Nothing compared to Gourmet.)

    And yet. And yet marketers still start every meeting and every memo with ideas about how to reach the unreachable. It’s not in our nature to do what actually works: start making products, services and stories that appeal to the reachable. Then do your best to build that group ever larger. Not by yelling at them, but by serving them.”

  4. Andrew,

    “The brand will sell itself.”

    Amen! Most people don’t have the patience to test this theory but when they do, wow — remarkable things happen.


  5. Cory,

    And yet, people push and sell and hustle and pitch. Why do you think that is?


  6. Andy,

    “Not by yelling at them, but by serving them.”

    There is so much truth in that. We become remarkable by not worrying about how we are…and instead, worry about how our customers are.


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