Get Customers Comfortable
to Give You Uncomfortable Information
Conventional sales people play off their loud confidence, where as strategic sellers who embrace the non-selling posture are quietly and subtly confident in a grounded approach. Strategic sellers demonstrate confidence in their willingness not to overplay their cards. Ironically, conventional sales people so often feel at a disadvantage in the sales process because of the heavy burden of proof they carry. They're always having to prove and disapprove. To overcompensate for this undue pressure, they project a supremely confident front. This sometimes has the unintended consequences of customers feeling more pressure themselves.
Be a broker of compromise and the middleground. Go the extra distance to derail the omnipresence of mistrust that follows most sales people. The non-selling posture is the cease-fire of lock and load sales people who are trigger-happy. It's an honorable attempt to reconcile the inherent differences between two parties who are often at cross purposes before an actual formal sales call begins.
Most sales people feel very self-conscious when they sell because it doesn't feel authentic and genuine to them. They compromise their values and their intentions. They're playing a temporary role that is counter to their instincts and principles. They then feel so self-conscious that they're consumed with themselves and not consumed with their customers. This takes up a lot of energy and personal control, and this gets them off task and out of the present moment where questioning and listening is critical.
"There's an emphasis on being more conscious, being in touch with one's sense of purpose, feeling good about what you're doing. People don't feel like they're really contributing. They aren't aligned with their own highest and best purpose. The world is changing at a very fast pace. We're starting to see that cooperation brings better results," says Carol Liege. The non-selling posture lets sales people operate out of a position of authenticity and cooperation, resulting in them feeling less pressure and their customers feeling less pressure.
The idea of the non-selling posture isn't to add new information, or to try to persuade and convince. Rather, it's about getting customers to look closer and more honestly at their own situation. It has very little to do with the sales person and their offering, and more to do with being a collaborator, facilitator and a catalyst for change.
You want to help the customer listen more closely to themselves, to their intentions and go with their gut. You make customers smarter by having them educate you, instead of the other way around. By educating you they're really getting a superior and insightful education on their own goals, priorities and major challenges, assuming they trust your insight. Too many sales people are fighting the wrong fight. Their self-promotion is so often a real joy kill.
Traditional sales people are obstructionists. They're preventing customers from really seeing the reality of their current circumstances. Everyone is so gullible. Customers are so often gullible in believing in their initial flimsy interest in starting new projects and initiatives. Sales people often are gullible in believing they can help everyone, under all circumstances, with their superior offering. Reality must rule. Sales people have to take the first initiative to be the voice of reason and reality if they want customers to trust them at a higher level.
The sales person who embraces the non-selling posture is always asking the fearful reality question, if I were in my customer's shoes, what would I be thinking and doing? They're very balanced, unlike mainstream sales people who are very suggestible to good news and totally not open to reality and bad news. This counterfactual position doesn't lead to full and open disclosure and free-flowing of information. Their desire to hear what they want to hear takes precedence over sound judgment.
The key is to get customers comfortable to give you uncomfortable information, or to feel upbeat giving you downbeat news. Think of all the BS you could avoid if you could've done this regularly. If customers are non-committal you need to be equally so to maintain a course of equilibrium. Always try to be centered by not being any more committed to persuade and influence as your customers are to share information and to change.