In an earlier post, The Single Most Important Concept in Parenting, we talked about the possibility that children know every time we are not paying attention to them. We pointed out that a great deal of unspoken body language passes between humans and suggested that approaching parenting with that in mind might change our approach in certain ways.
What if we were to apply the same premise to the sales process? What if every time a salesperson was ‘selling’ and pushing their product, the potential customer on the other end knows they are being ‘sold’? (When we refer to sales we are referring to the negotiative process that occurs across both business and relationships).
The ramification of such an observation is this:
If the prospect knows they are being sold/pushed, they leave the interaction with the default, reflexive response humans have when pushed: ‘don’t tell me what to do’. So even if the salesperson has successfully made the case for their product and it is, in fact, the best solution for the prospect, they leave with (what is often an unconscious) negative feeling and often may not be able to even verbalize why.
An Alternative Approach
Contrast that with the approach of the seller who gets on the phone with this: “I am not getting on the phone to sell/push something, but I am getting on the phone to present the best possible case to this person so they can come to the realization on their own that my product is the best solution for them”. This approach necessarily requires the absence of a selling process, but a “presentation of the solution” process. Necessarily, it requires an absence of pushing and sales because the negative response by the prospect that follows the sales process has the potential to derail it.
Inherent in this process is the premise that the best of educators already know and operate with (and that is backed by substantial research): a concept penetrates the educatee’s mind best when they themselves come to the realization on their own rather than have someone tell them it is so.
So there is a tremendous amount of information, in a process we barely understand, that is flowing back and forth, in the tones of voice and choice of words even on a phone call. It is therefore extremely reasonable to assume that a person knows (on some level) every time they are being sold/pushed. And, if we assume that knowledge has a negative impact on the sales process it makes sense to take a different approach.
One of the challenges inherent in this process is that it generally requires executive support to sell in a manner of putting a choice in front of a prospect rather than pushing them into a sale. And, it also requires that the person doing the selling believe wholeheartedly in what is being sold. When they do they end up with this: I am merely presenting a solution I believe in, either you have the foresight to see it as such or I move on to the next one that will.
Critics may be tempted to dismiss the above as pie in the sky thinking that is a new-agey sales process and a product of a naïve mindset. But this criticism belies the understanding that people do in fact have a negative, reflexive response to being sold so that when done right, a presentation of the solution that allows the prospect to come to the realization on their own that the solution is in their best interest is likely to have a much deeper impact, resulting in more sales from more committed clients than the alternative.
In closing, this approach—presenting the facts in such a way that you allow the individual you are communicating with to see why it is in their best interest–has far reaching implications for industries and situations far and wide. From parenting to negotiations to interviewing to interpersonal relationships, approaching a situation with the question “How do I present a case where the individual sees for themselves why it is their best interest to do x?” is a very different approach from “How do I sell this person x?” At its core, it requires that we take our eyes off of ourselves and put it on the other, and, ironically, in the end that approach, often results in a ‘yes’ for us too.
- About the Author
Nathan Safran is a former Analyst at Forrester Research where he covered the Digital Home. While at Forrester, Nathan authored research studies on trends, attitudes and behaviors of consumers toward technology adoption and use.
Nathan has been quoted as a subject matter expert in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Fortune magazine. Currently, Nathan heads the Research Department at Conductor, Inc an SEO Technology Platform firm.
Nathan writes at exceljockey.com about the intersection of Business, Technology and Psychology. See the About page for more info. Follow Nathan on Twitter: @Nathan_Safran