Instead of Selling Harder, Get Your Customer to Buy Harder
In that hands of mere mortals (99% of us) proactive selling, persuading and convincing is not an effective tool for finding the truth, but for destroying it and covering it up. The non-selling posture is built on the idea that the skill to find the truth is a more sustainable and realistic skill, than the lofty and unattainable skill of selling, persuading, inspiring and motivating. Many conventional sales people fail because they believe they can more consistently create the truth, rather than just finding the truth.
Less than 1% of the selling population has the God given gift to consistently sell by motivating and inspiring customers to change. All sales people need to ask which is more practical for them. Are they better at motivating customers to buy, or are they better at understanding which customers are motivated to buy? How you answer that question will determine if you sell by giving out information to be better understood, or if you sell by getting information to better understand.
As you can imagine I get a lot of pushback from this viewpoint at my training sessions. It is as if I committed a crime against humanity. I once gave a speech at a resort where the participants brought their families. One session had a bright 14-year-old kid who was too sunburned to go to the beach, so he accompanied his father to my session. At the break, after a lot of brouhaha from the participants, he calmly came up to me and said he did not understand what all the resistance was about, it seems like basic common sense. Because he was not emotionally invested in an old system, had no preconceived ideas, he thought it was a very pragmatic communication model.
Sales people will resist the non-selling posture because they have an insatiable need to be heard, to proactively make a contribution, and because they are serious adherents to the art of motivation and inspiration. The non-selling posture feels like you are not selling or trying hard enough, and that is an anathema to those who need to feel that they made their mark or signature on a deal.
I have had sales people towards the end of a two day training ask, where do I come in to the picture or when do I get to show my stuff? They totally missed the point of the entire training. They were so intimidated in doing more with less. They did not realize that when it comes to selling so often less is more. Selling is more about two way communicating than it is about one way convincing and motivating. It is dialogue over monologue.
The beauty of traditional selling, from the perspective of its subscribers, is you do not need that much trust or interaction, since it does not require prolonged dialogue, it is a predictable and controllable one-way street, one-size-fits-all.
With the non-selling posture you must first assess for trust. Without trust there will be minimal sharing of sensitive information. Without good information, one is basically a "me too" player. To get trust you must first extend it. So a gesture of good faith, a gesture of common ground and extension of goodwill is important to reverse the traditional flow of information. You can accomplish this by telling customers upfront that you will have to have a solid understanding of their circumstances to help you assess if you are uniquely qualified to help them. This concession can go a long way to getting customers to drop their defenses.
"Match and lead is a communication tool founded on the idea that if you cannot meet people where they are, you have not earned the right to lead them some place new. You never resist or try to change their starting point. You precisely match them where they are," says Randy Illig. This is a nice complement to the non-selling posture's strategy of mutual trust and respect.
Customers for the first time really have a forceful way to control the sales process like never before because of technology and easy access to information. Some would say that the Internet has eliminated a certain element of the sales person's job.
The fact that customers are willing to do more homework and search information on suppliers shows how they value control and being more pre-informed. They also, through technology, can avoid and hide from sales people who they believe are dead weights.
Prospects want to cut out as much as possible sales people who incessantly pump up their offering. So sales people have to meet customers halfway and purposely give them more control while still managing the flow of information. This is what the non-selling posture is all about.
Instead of selling harder, how about getting your customer to buy harder. They are truly the best seller at the selling event. Let them work harder in making up their own minds thru the quality of your thought-provoking questions and unbiased insight.
Customers will often work you very hard to give them information indiscriminately early on in the sales process. Their position so often is; give me, give me, give me. I want, I want, I want. Do it at my convenience or else (my way or the highway). They do this to minimize their time and exposure to your fluff and irrelevance. But the reality is often they dearly want your insight, input and advice, if only they could trust you.
Customers are silently begging sales people not to get out their prized "show and tell" and try to sell them stuff. They are quietly beseeching them to shut up, listen and find out what concerns them, and help them navigate their priorities, timing, competing initiatives, internal politics, assessment of problems and reasons for action or inaction. Alas, traditional sales people fail to hear the message because they believe that you need to seek to be understood before you should try to understand.