The Act of Selling Often Creates the Condition for its Failure
The non-selling posture personifies neutrality, non-hype and allows your customer, through your line of inquiry, to find their own answers and come to the their own conclusions. It is the epitome of pressure free selling.
Doors open wide when you drop your expectations, your need to be in charge, your desire to make a sale, your emotional investment in the outcome the sale and your need to have your prospective customer fit your reality of what a customer should look like and act like. The inconspicuous sales person who adopts the non-selling posture does not call attention to themselves and their product, yet is sought after for their counsel.
The act of persuasion and selling will surprisingly will often create the conditions for its failure. The non-selling posture rests on the premise that everything we hold dear and true about our companies offering, our selling position, that there is potentially something equally true that contradicts it from the customer's perspective. The non-selling posture is all about being open to the customer's world viewpoint, regardless of what it holds. Because of this the sales person treads lightly, speaks softly (metaphorically) and does not carry a big product stick. The non-selling posture is being humble in a ballsy way.
One of the ultimate compliments a sales person can experience, is a customer who feels safer with their doubts and reservations about your offering, than your competitor's categorical proofs, hype and statements of fact. Too often the more we seek agreement on objections, or on our selling points, the more we will likely find resistance and more disagreement. Ironically, attacking and defending ends up being the same thing; a weakness. Attacking your competition vigorously, or just defending your offering can often marginalize and neutralize your position. Frequently, the harder you sell the harder it is to sell.
When customers bring up negatives, objections, misgivings, or reservations about your offering, they control the conversation. When you bring up any doubts or deficiencies as a preemptive strike, it can neutralize the customer's need to control and be inflexibly in charge. When you are willing to extend a gesture of good faith about concerns and doubts, your customer tends also to be more willing to share like-minded information, for better or for worse.
When you practice letting your customers be comfortable with their unique perspective and needs, you no longer spend such energy trying to sell everyone, you spend your energy looking for people who are "sellable."
"The best way to win an argument is to avoid it," said Dale Carnegie. This is so true in the world of selling. Remember, the more you position yourself to be always in the right, the more inclined you are to have your customer feel wrong. As we all know it is very difficult to sell someone who feels wronged or slighted.
Sales people who embrace the non-selling posture know the power of "not knowing." By practicing not knowing what anything means you reduce false assumptions and position yourself as a thoughtful questioner who really gets to the bottom of your customer's most pressing issues.
Be an expert "un-knower." By letting everything be new and fresh you can better go with the flow. Ultimate sales intelligence is all about starting with a blank slate and knowing nothing. Plan in advance, but be prepared to be unprepared and to have your calls be unpredictable. Done right, you increase your predictability by allowing unpredictable events and information to flow easily and early. Knowing that you do not know is true wisdom and the foundation of the non-selling posture. Thinking you have the answers is a major obstacle to getting to the truth.
Not being afraid to walk away from a bad deal is one of the most underrated skills in selling and is one of the hallmarks of the non-selling posture. Customers are not all that different in behavior and outlook than loan officers, future spouses and hiring managers. They reward and are attracted to those who do not need and are not actively in the market for their services, their job, or their money. Too often sales people want a deal so bad that it is their desire that is the biggest impediment to their success in getting the deal. We all know neediness is a foul smelling cologne.
Do not be afraid to take risks and push the envelope. It is amazing what happens when you give your full blessing to customers to do something that is totally counter to your own best self-interest and agenda. Do not be afraid to call a spade a spade if it looks like a customer has only a passive, casual and fleeting interest. Do not be fearful of professionally outing them in a nice way. Never be afraid to professionally call it the way you see it.
Remember, you cannot unconditionally get a "yes," without making "no" an option. You cannot define "yes" without the presence of "no." So the act of allowing the customer to be comfortable saying "no" to you can often position you to have a customer be more open to giving you a "yes," only if it is applicable and realistic. Heck, you will learn to your astonishment, that it is sometimes harder to get a customer to give you a "no" than a "yes." This is the equivalent of when customers "yes you to death." Sometimes customers cannot call it even when reality is starkly staring them straight in the face. Sales people exasperate the situation when all they do is look for good news and positive feedback. They are addicted to false hope. They cannot flush out bad news, like customers cannot give it out themselves. Too often it becomes one big cluster-fest of misinformation.
The non-selling posture is about undoing and unwraveling the false beliefs of the sales profession. That is why it is challenging for the uninitiated. The non-selling posture requires great effort to achieve effortlessness. Learning to see and perceive things differently in sales is a much more powerful lesson than simply learning to do things differently.
As long as you are over-identified with your company, its products and your selling goals, the non-selling posture will be difficult to execute. The reason is because when you take on this posture the sales person is buying as much as they are selling. What that means is they spend as much time trying to determine if they really buy into what the customer is saying, the probability of them changing, or doing anything differently. Keep in mind, average sales people use the ego, the antithesis of the non-selling posture, to sell and it invariably gives them average results. High-performing sales people let the customer satisfy their ego needs first and they get much better results.