Buy or Sell?

Question: I see people use essentially the same sales techniques, but some are successful and some are not. How can this be?

Answer: There are so many books about selling that it would be impossible to read all of them in a lifetime. And there are so many different techniques that it makes our heads spin. So what does it all boil down to? I can simplify it fairly easily. A successful salesperson does not sell anything. Nothing at all. Nada. Instead, he or she helps a customer buy something.

The distinction between buying and selling is huge. And it can be the difference between success or failure. Let’s examine what all this means. Old-school salespeople do the schmooze with the customer. They use techniques such as asking questions that get the customer to answer with the word “yes.” They attempt to close at least seven times with different methods. They try and create a sense of urgency – i.e. the price is going to increase tomorrow, or there is only one left. I’m not quarreling with the fact that these methods may have worked in the past. But people are more sophisticated in today’s world and they don’t respond to manipulation as they may have in an earlier era.

Rather than selling to someone, I submit that helping someone buy can be as effective as old-school salesmanship – maybe even more so. This starts from a premise of respect in that we want to help meet the needs of a customer – notice the mindset is accentuated by the words “respect” and “help.” Understanding the needs of a customer means asking a lot of questions; usually many more than a customer is typically asked. In the process, there is an opportunity to build a relationship with the customer. Working with someone on a relationship basis is part of the “help” to which I’ve referred. Think about this for a moment. Are you more or less inclined to buy from someone who has genuinely tried to understand your needs and at the same time you are both able to get to know each other better?

Of course you need to be completely knowledgeable about your product or service in order to answer the questions raised by the customer. And you’ll certainly want to demonstrate the features and how they translate into benefits. But I think the sale is won or lost in the first few seconds of the encounter based upon how well you connect with the customer. Will this happen with manipulation and pressure? Or is the connection made through the process of thoroughly understanding needs and building relationships?

To be successful at sales simply practice the Golden Rule. In all likelihood, helping someone buy is the way you would want it to be when you are the customer.

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.

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