Free Choice is a Catalytic Converter for Sound Decisions
Conventional sales people need to overcome the obstacles of success. The old adage of once you think you have arrived, you have already failed, plays a big role in why sales people fall short of their selling goals in today's information economy.
The non-selling posture is a sales strategy that holds that customers are happy and content until proven otherwise. This no frills approach starts from where the customer is, not from your conviction that you can make them more satisfied and happier than they already are. This requires you to nurture a very flexible mind, and a position that you are not weighed down by a heavy burden of proof; hence the moniker the non-selling posture.
The non-selling posture tries to tame the mutant gene classic sales people have that compels them to excitedly sell with abandon right out of the gate before customers have declared their intent. It is all about maintaining respectful and professional boundaries; getting very close to customers business and their most pressing issues, while remaining neutral and objective.
"Avoid saying anything designed to influence, convince, or persuade. You are looking for someone who already wants what you are selling. Anything that you say that is meant to influence them will create resistance," says Jacques Werth. No one likes to deal with a fixer. Ask anyone in a binding relationship if you question this.
"Remember: You are starting with a negative balance with most customers. This puts you into a deficit position," says Scott Ginsberg. Most trigger happy sales people try to reverse this deficit by pouring on the charm, personality, and enthusiasm. This unfortunately puts them into a bigger hole, and they just add insult to injury by trying even harder to overcompensate.
The non-selling posture is about breaking type, caste, mold, and rank, because when you are firmly secure in your value, and what you stand for, you do not need a bullhorn. As Jeff Thull says: "You need to be prepared to be unprepared." Or expect the unexpected. Only someone supremely confident is willing to step aside, and give up control. When you maintain a casual equilibrium, and believe the sales call is all about the customer, you are signaling to them that they are in control, it is their show, not yours. If you find out that they do not want to share valuable information, do not require your active participation and advice, then the good news is the bad news has come early for you. You are now squarely in the ugly commodity zone with few viable options.
When you are a customer activist, everything is an unknown and an uncertainty, only after you have done your due diligence as to how your customer personally feels about their problems, other priorities, and how much bandwidth they have to take on another initiative. Being exposed, putting yourself out there, stripping away all that is unnecessary (your agenda), is not for the faint of heart. Free from tricks and gimmicks, free from the clutches of your solution, free from the separation of church and state, you can really be an effective and valued sounding board for customers.
Most product pushers are very dull, thrive on numbing predictability, safety and caution, in a business world that is anything but. For these type of sellers, risk taking is out of the question, and hearing someone out before you start on your pitch is sacrilegious. The non-selling posture is not about being a better sales person, it is about being a better natural sales person. When you take off all your shields and protective armor, and throw away your arrogance about your product/service superiority, it is so much easier to put yourself into another's world, and better understand their worldview. This stewardship takes all the pressure off everyone so that information exchange has a better chance to flow easily and authentically. When you work hard to gain consensus, you minimize the adversarial roles that customers and sales people typically get stuck in.
"Paradoxically, more sales come when you stop making the sale the objective. If you consistently do right for the customer, sales happen," says Charles Green. Product pushers make the big mistake of pushing too hard on open doors, and too hard on closed doors. They are obsessed with controlling things that are not controllable. " Pull the string and it will follow you where ever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere," said Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Free choice is a catalytic converter for sound customer's decisions, pro or con. Where sales people fail so often is when they try to dictate and accelerate positive outcomes. The non-selling posture is about letting customers reach their own natural conclusions and answers, and is not about pressing your own self-centered goal of making the sale at another's expense.