Once Your Ego is Engaged All Bets are Off
The non-selling posture is a strategic and collaborative effort where both the sales person and the customer are willing to share assumptions, fears, unique perspectives, while also defining one another's interest, challenging one another's positions, agreeing to disagree and confirming and checking goals and agendas. Sales people must be willing to a take a long-term and a non-transactional outlook when selling strategically, because "the cost of selling a dollar of business to a new customer is multiples higher than the cost of selling a dollar of business to an existing customer," says Charles Green. In order to get this much of a transparent exchange with your customer trust is critical.
Sales is a study of customer's behavior, motivation and self-interest. Conventional sales strategies unfortunately do not let customers reveal themselves easily. It focuses on extrinsic motivations, not intrinsic motivations. The former can be successfully addressed with logic and the latter with emotion and empathy. In the world of sales, logical selling is severely limited in scope, and is child's play compared to selling with empathy and delving into the emotions of prospects.
The non-selling posture is a strategic sales process that engages customers emotionally and uses empathy to get customers to self-reveal, open up and share the truth. The non-selling posture is a reality-based sales model.
Since customers hate to lose more than they love to win, sales people have to position their offering accordingly and transition from always bringing up the positives of their offering, to focusing on the negatives of what their customers are experiencing and trying to avoid. This requires a lot of listening, empathy, emotional intelligence and proactive questioning to understand all the subtleties of your customer's business, problems, priorities and incentives to change.
The non-selling posture is all about the variables. For conventional sales people the obvious task of convincing and persuading is the most important goal. Conventional sales people too often have blinders on and have a picture perfect view of customers and how they will act, think and behave.
On the other hand, sales people who embrace the non-selling posture, it is all about teasing out the truth and peeling away all the hurdles to change, instead of solely relying on the black art of convincing and persuading. You need to strip away all the complexities, uncertainties and variables and bring it to its simplest form. So sales in its most basic form is a search for the truth, which is best accomplished by peeling away all the mistruths, the misconceptions and the faulty thinking.
Traditional selling relies heavily on the search for agreement (forced and pressured); my solution or the highway. The problem here is a search for agreement is so often a quest to be right; selling your position at the expense of finding the truth. Now you can see where this could be potentially problematic because customers also want to be right, and do not want to be on the wrong side of their own search of what is best for them.
Often, the more you prematurely seek and presume agreement, the more likely you will find silent disagreement later on in the buying process. The best way to find agreement and to avoid customer invalidation, is to allow your customer the space and security to be in 100% disagreement if and when they feel that way. Now you open the door for meaningful, transparent and constructive dialogue. "Sales resistance from the client or prospect gives you valuable insight into their thinking. Don't maneuver around the resistance but get it into the open as soon as possible," says Tim Connor. The posture of yielding to another is the bedrock of the non-selling posture.
To be truly unbiased and nonpartisan, it would serve sales people to demonstrate a critical distance (emotional detachment to results) during the sales call. During my training sessions I will get boisterous pushback from participants, because they are concerned that this will negatively impact their business relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth. Classic sales people are emotionally clingy to outcomes and unbeknownst to them customers question their self-interest, sincerity and financial motivation, resulting in superficial conversations about needs, requirements and specifications. Steven Covey said, "In order to communicate effectively you need to be interdependent, instead of dependent.
The non-selling posture also requires a lot of humility; subsuming the self for the good of the whole (customer relationships), remaining open to surprise and dissent, and being open to the customer's unique perception of their own reality.
Because mainstream sales people are so unrealistically positive, eager, upbeat and enthusiastic, they will often box in their customers to the point where it is difficult for them to share bad news or resistance, without fear of a full-court press from the sales person.
Unwavering, strongly, held beliefs and convictions about the factual superiority of your offering, without balance and constructive discussion, invariably will meet opposition. Mainstream sales people's gung ho mentality does not allow customers who have differing points of view to explore what resonates with them and their priorities. When they do not have this chance, customers often will lead you down the primrose path, create false hope for you and have you chasing your tail between your legs. No fun!