The Non-Selling Posture Provides the Context for the Sale Not the Reason
The non-selling posture is all about selling without it smelling like selling. You need to throw out the conventional idea about selling. You need to first determine, can you create trust with your customer on a personal level and vice versa. Without this foundation it does not matter how effective you are at selling. If customers do not trust you, you have very little to sell. The non-selling posture is about unconditional sales abandonment.
The non-selling posture is built on the idea that the right kind of weaknesses often become strengths. Sales people who embrace the non-selling posture have no illusions of their ability to get customers to do something they do not want to do. Instead, they rely on trained skills; empathy, emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication to get customers to self-reveal and confide in them about their main issues, and they allow them to draw their own conclusions.
Dysfunctional and manipulative buying practices are a defense mechanism against dysfunctional and manipulative sales strategies. Customers fear contact with conventional sales people because it is so often a waste of time. Customers think nothing of squandering the time of sales people when they have no real authentic intent, and sales people do not blink an eye to waste customer's time with frivolous and useless information. As you can see it is a vicious cycle of dysfunction on the part of both parties.
The non-selling posture is about trying to unburn the bridges that other mainstream sales people have unceremoniously left in your wake. Your predecessors have more than likely made it very difficult for you to openly engage customers. So you need to be very real, transparent, and forthcoming about whether you truly can bring anything of value to the table with your prospects.
The non-selling posture normalizes the sales engagement by empowering the customer to share sensitive information with you, and it disempowers the natural inclinations of all sales people to be on their soapbox aggressively pushing every advantage they have. Adherents to the non–selling posture position for trust and access. Conventional sales people position for product authority and solution superiority and only earn resistance and annoyance.
It is not a bad idea to start off a sales calls in a non-committed state; nothing to prove, nothing to disprove. You are at the selling event to first seek to understand before being understood. You are very focused on keeping your eye on the prize; your customer's cooperation and open access to sensitive information. Traditional sales people on the other hand have a razor focus on their ultimate prize; a positive outcome for themselves.
Since the customer essentially has all the controlling influence, there is no grand design to the non-selling posture other than finding the truth about their grand design. The non-selling posture is extemporaneous, improvising, spontaneous, and is fully dependent on the customer's willingness to show their cards. If they are not willing to share valuable information, and to disclose their dirty laundry, you have very little to offer of meaning or value.
"You cannot make a sale. No one can. It is impossible to make a sale, because you cannot really make other people do what you want them to do. If you cannot make a sale, then what do you do? You can provide the context that allows a sale to happen when the other person makes a purchase. This is not semantics; this is the secret of all great sales people. Your job is not to make a sale but to create something else; value. In fact as a salesperson you can define your job description in three words; I create value," says John David Mann. I would add that you do not bring value to the table until you first understand the value of your customer's challenges and assess the cost of changing for them. This is your context. It has nothing to do with your content (solution).
The non-selling process is a principled, common sense (yet not common practice), no fuss, no muss sales strategy. It is flexible, not by the book, iconoclastic, and it adheres to basic laws of human behavior. The sales person's role is relatively silent, unobtrusive, not commanding and somewhat accidental. If anything the strategy errors on the side of the soft sell, instead of a hard sell. This will not be a welcome change for most classically trained, hard charging, take no prisoner sales people.
The non-selling posture is about approaching your customer more intuitively than analytically. It is a fragile process of taking customers to new levels of self-selection and self-scrutiny. Conventional sales people go way too far on the analytical side and miss the big picture. Your job is to facilitate individual choices for customers, because information and choices are increasingly abundant in the information economy, but hard to discern.
If you are not relaxed and enjoying yourself while selling, you are probably trying too hard and working under too much self-imposed pressure. When you try too hard you lose your sense of dignity and equilibrium. Sales people who feel the tyranny of pressure are utilizing sales strategies that are out of line with their own mission, purpose and comfort level. Sales people who embrace the non-selling posture know that no customer can make them or break them.
On one of the entrances of center court at Wimbledon reads a wise quote; "Meet equally triumph and disaster, these two imposters are the same." When you are relaxed and not overly invested in deals, you bring so much more objectivity and value to your customer. And since we are on a British thing Winston Churchill said, "Failure should never go to heart, and success should never go to head, both make a person fail in life." Like in life, neutrality is what allows sales people to keep their equilibrium and their head above water and provide true insight to customers. The more you want and need to make a sale, the more you will be suspect to selling without the customer's best interests at heart.
The harder you push, the more you try to close, the more information you sell with, the more you betray your customer's confidence to think for themselves. "Money flows from the impatient to the patient," says Warren Buffett. The non-selling posture requires a lot of patience, empathy, social intelligence, open communication and emotional intelligence; skill sets that are not in abundance today with most mainstream sales people.