Stop Selling


Stop Selling

Buyers want to buy, not be sold upon

In my selling workshops, I always ask delegates: "If you are going to a shop, and the salesperson asks you if he or she could be of help, how many of you reply by saying: Thanks but I am just looking?"

Generally they all reply in a similar way. Now explain this. These salespeople in my workshop, who are convinced they are doing a great job helping their customers, they themselves don't want the help of a fellow salesperson!?


The simple explanation is that no one wants to 'be sold upon'! We all want to believe that it was us, who bought, instead of being sold to.

It isn't different with our buyers, if you give them the feeling you're here to sell to them, they will put up that wall of defence, which will be very hard to tear down afterwards. Instead, give them the feeling they are still in charge of their own decision process and you may have a smoother journey to the closure of the deal.

According to Michael Gerber’s research, successful companies and organizations that make it to year ten have something in common – they dedicate the appropriate amount of time to working ON the business vs. working IN the business. When you are working ON the business, you are strategically planning for the future. When you are working IN the business, you are tactically responding to daily issues.

Once you are able to commit more time to working ON the business, the best place to start is with a strategic plan. We recommend taking key staff and stakeholders for a retreat - away from their daily tasks for the appropriate amount of time to develop a strategic plan.

7 tips to be more successful in making your buyer buy:


Apply the Platinum Rule

The golden rule is: "Treat others the way you'd want to be treated yourself." The Platinum rule: "Treat others the way they'd want to be treated"


Tell them you're not there to sell

And as a matter of fact, you don't know yet if you are going to sell to this buyer! You will first have to explore the situation, what are the customer's needs, where does the business have issues or miss opportunities, how can you help them increase their business? If you don't know that, you don't know what and where to offer against. So tell them honestly that you would like to explore the situation in order to determine IF and HOW you could possibly be of help with your offering.

In their book “Playing to Win – How Strategy Really Works”, Roger Martin and A.G. Lafley identify key questions to consider throughout your strategic process:

  • What are your winning aspirations?
  • Where will you play?
  • How will you win?
  • What capabilities must be in place?
  • What management systems are required?

Start talking customer, not your business

Many salespeople start their conversation with something like: "Hi, I am from company A, you probably know us from our brands XYZ, and I would like to know how are our products doing?"  NO NO NO, here you are so clearly stating, that the only reason to visit this buyer, is to pursue your own objectives.

Apply the reverse pyramid: start with the customer, relate all your observations and questions to the market, the channel, the category and the consumer and only at the very end the role of your company and products to the customer

We frequently ask buyers what annoys them most of salespeople and they consistently reply: "that they're not interested in my business, they're only here to pursue their own objectives"


Buyers buy categories, not brands

Buyers are interested in selling more of their categories, and are only interested in brands which will maximize the total category sales. So, replacing a competitor brand with yours, maybe good for your incentive, but doesn't help the buyer if the competitor brand contributed equally or better to the category sales.

Always think and prepare, what additional value my proposition will add to the entire category.

And mind you, 92% of all innovations fail to deliver on their promise, so you can't blame buyers for being reluctant to "your fabulous offer"


Be patient, refrain from selling

We salespeople are so eager to sell, that we are always looking for that one clue, that one potential buying intention we hear from the buyer and BAM, we throw our proposal on the table.

Even if you think you have heard enough to make your proposal stick with the buyer, hold yourself back. Take your time to thoroughly explore the situation, find all those possible hooks, those little pieces of velcro you could stick your proposition on and you will find it so much easier to have them buy from you. The heavier your proposition, the more pieces of velcro you need. Otherwise it won't stick. And do not forget to summarize them, to make sure you've got them all and that you've understood them all.


Get permission to sell

You will find that once you've focused the conversation around the buyer's business and personal needs, time becomes fluid and the mood changes. Human beings naturally like to talk about themselves and yes, buyer's are human beings too. But you are here with an objective too and at some point you need to do that proposal.

If you want to check whether the buyer is ready to listen to your proposal, just ask: "I heard that you are looking for A, try to increase your B and resolve C. Would you be interested in showing you a proposition which would deliver against all three of them? If our buyer responds positively, you know they will now listen to you. If not, you should simply go back to exploring: "what else is on your mind" or "what am I missing"?


Show me the money

Buyers DO want to buy, provided it adds value to the business. Too many salespeople sell on "claims" as: "this fits your clientele so well", "it will be huge success" or "it cannot fail with all the support we've put behind this".

If you are able to give them more confidence, to prove with hard or soft data how much your proposition will add to the category, there is a much better chance they will be interested in your offer. This requires obviously thorough preparation of the value of the deal, additional to the category.

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