The Non-Selling Posture is Being Prepared to be Unprepared
The non-selling posture is a universal mode of communication that transcends whatever product or service is being sold, the customer base it is being sold to, price points, sales geography, market demands and a seller's tenure and personality. It is a customer driven sales methodology that allows the customer to lead and feel in charge.
The non-selling posture relies on your total ignorance. When you know nothing, you are open to all possibilities, new ideas and new interpretations. In other words, it is all about the customer's circumstances, and has a lot less to do with specifically what you are selling.
One thing is clear, you can really understand your market and industry, but until you really probe deeply with your customer; you know very little about their unique personal circumstances, priorities, competing initiatives and their own interpretation of their day-to-day challenges. So be prepared to be unprepared.
The beginning of sales wisdom happens when you start with a blank slate and a complete open mind to go anywhere in any direction during a sales call. The non-selling posture is about unlearning how to sell and relearning how to get the customers to do all the heavy lifting and provide the sales person a justification as to whether they have a compelling reason to buy, change, act, or do something different. I love the concept Michael Bosworth subscribes to; "The fastest way to lose trust is to look the buyer straight in the eye without flinching and tell them you're the answer to their problems."
The true art of selling is counter-intuitive and paradoxical. The harder you sell the harder it is to sell and the more customers will resist you. However, the more time and effort we take to truly understand them, and learn about their unique circumstances, the more they are apt to convince themselves. Their convincing will always trump are convincing.
Traditional selling too often creates opposition in direct proportion to one's desire to make the sale. It also often creates exclusion of others, instead of inclusion. The non-selling posture works because it is non-confrontational and it is not "me" based. Its engagement style does not create winners or losers. It does not take energy and momentum away from the customer.
Sales people who embrace this strategy avoid at all costs making a show of strength. Most traditional strengths in selling are a mask for weaknesses. The primary problem with mainstream selling strategies are the benchmarks are defined by actions, beliefs and activities of the sales person, not the actions and activities of the customer. Most sales people are just too sales-centric in their approach and not customer-centric enough.
It is a great irony in our profession that sales people are often selling as if it is critical to buy their customer's silence. They avoid any controversial subject matter, they skirt healthy confrontation, they run from reality, and they spin everything into a state of nirvana to get around all possible objections. They monopolize conversations, they control the sales call, and they pump up the volume (enthusiasm) to avoid questions and doubts, to ensure tidy endings. Surprisingly, the end result is not rejection—it is worse. It is a silent rebuke. It is inbox to inbox. It is a deep void of non-communication. Many sales people become disenfranchised and disillusioned that customers do not feel obliged to reward them for their obedient effort and naivete with at least returned emails and voicemails. Really! Even after all their bluster!