All Bets are Off When the Customer Sees Dollar Signs in Your Eyes
One of the big differences with the non-selling posture and traditional sales strategies is you are vetting and interviewing the customer as much as they are vetting you. When the engagement becomes imbalanced, trust diminishes. Selling is as much buying into the customer's motivation, as it is in selling.
For most traditional sales people any goodwill they created with being friendly, chummy, polite and sociable is marginalized when they opened up their mouth to talk about their product. This is in part due to the idea that their preoccupation to make the sale and forward their financial aspirations is so strong. The second the customer sees dollar signs in the eye's of the sales person, all bets are off.
When we declare to the customer at the onset of a sales call that we are neutral and undecided in our commitment that we can assist them, we release our petty attachments to what we know and do not know. This allows us to be more flexible and open to go with the flow, listen, be present and ask a lot of questions to really understand if this is a good fit for both parties. A neutral position allows you to be less solution driven and more customer driven. This is the epitome of the beginner's mind. As in Zen, the beginner's mind is all full of possibilities. In the expert's mind (solution sellers) there are few possibilities other than an outright sale.
Have a modest goal of seeking to understand before being understood. "Emptiness is the foundation of infinite possibilities," said D. Suzuki. Yet all too often sales people are so full of it, so full of themselves and their offering. Because they are full of solution stimuli they cannot simplify and concentrate on the customer. The non-selling posture is necessary in most cases to reverse the focal point from self to other (customer).
The non-selling posture is not about dominating. It is about inviting customers to take an active role in co-creating value and collaborating. Always actively give your customers the option to subscribe or unsubscribe, to opt-in or to opt-out. Without the robust participation of the customer, it is very difficult to create value.
If they are not sharing with you valuable information you are vulnerable to simply being a commodity play. Remember, one of the most important reasons customers will buy from you is that you "get them." Most conventional sales people spend too much time getting the customer to try to "get them," by really understanding the benefits of their offering. It is next to impossible for you to "get someone," without them sharing a lot of information.
I love the title of Richard Fentress' new book: Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There. When the customer is only passively interested, does not have the means, does not have the authority, cannot pull the trigger, only the plug, has limited political influence, lacks compelling motive, getting a "no buy" is the best news you can get. Do not be afraid to discourage those customers who are not a good fit. Your sales strategy should attract those customers you are predisposed to take on, and exclude those that cannot benefit from your offering due to their incompatibility.
The non-selling posture is an indirect approach in a world where customers are tiring of over direct selling. It is an approach that represents a rapt readiness to understand and an openness that is lacking in most sales strategies. To execute it properly you must believe in the value of the unspoken; all the things that the customer is reluctant to share that you know will be telltale signs as to how committed they are to moving forward, or not.
As you give more freedom of choice and alternatives to your customer, you become more free to be less controlling, less needy, more transparent and to be your natural relaxed self. This is so important, because so often it comes down to you as the differentiator. So you need to always put your best foot forward, because you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression. The non-selling posture's goal is to increase the odds that the customer favors you as an adviser because of your deep understanding, care and willingness to give them lots of independence to find their own answers.