I love this blog post on Huffington (Stop Pretending You’re Selling) that does a great job of distinguishing between order-takers and salespeople, but there are some mindsets expressed in the article that do not serve us as coaches or leaders for whom selling (services or ideas) is not about setting your sights on some unsuspecting consumer or business and then getting in to make them see that they need your services or ideas. For example, the author Tibor Shanto tells us that 90 percent of your potential market “must be engaged by a salesperson” (defined as someone who induces someone to buy) if they are ever to become your customer.
No! Please do not think of sales or selling as an act you need to take to induce someone to buy something! That’s the very bit of mainstream mindset that makes “sell” feel like a four letter word or aggressive act to those of us who are not in the business of forcing others to do what they don’t want or need. Like the folks who think they need to go pitch, but really all they’re doing is throwing fastballs at the head of their prospective buyer and hoping to conk them into buying or hoping they’ll somehow be persuaded to catch the ball. Ditch the pitch if you’re a leader seeking to gain influence in your organizational system, or if you’re a coach seeking to sell your services.
The author redeems himself, though, in the rest of the article, where he quotes Selling Power‘s definition of sales:
- a process of asking directive questions to help customers visualize how they could satisfy a need
- a process where a salesperson and a customer walk the road of agreement together
- finding a need and filling that need
- selling is an art and a science. The science is the ability to diagnose a problem and find the best solution. The art is the ability to create the relationship and to co-create the solution with the customer.
However, further to these points, I’d expand the definition to include that your ideal role is to partner as equals with the other person/ business to help them make the best decision for them…regardless of whether the end result is new revenue for you or not.
He then goes back to the distinction between order-takers and salespeople thus, which really sums up his whole point:
Professional salespeople are not paid to “check out” self-serve buyers at the end of their “buying process”. Salespeople initiate a sales process, as in the last bullet above, “create… and… to co-create”; when buyers go through 66 to 90 percent of their purchase solo, there is no creating or co-creating, there is just “checking out”, something technology can easily do.