Selling without being sales-y

Categories: Winnthinks

You know how it starts. (“Hello, am I speaking to…? Great! How are you today?”).
You know the type. (Pushy. Talks too fast, listens too little).
You know the tactic. (“A special deal, just for you, but only if you buy it TODAY…”).
You know the feeling. (Oh dear, here we go…).

For a nation that loves to buy stuff, the word ‘sales’ has a heap of negative connotations. Many of us have bought something we’ve later regretted. Sometimes that was due to our hot-headed lack of judgement (oh, those paisley harem pants…) and we’re probably humble enough to accept when it’s our Own Stupid Fault.

But hands up if you’ve ever been bounced into a purchase by a pushy salesperson – especially on the phone? That’s a different kettle of (unwanted) fish. It leaves us annoyed with ourselves for being swayed and vowing never to be taken for a ride again.

Hands up also if you’ve ever refused point blank to buy the Thing that was EXACTLY right, because you were alienated by the pushy salesperson. And who did THAT inconvenience the most?

So, if we accept that ‘everyone lives by selling something’, how do we ensure that our customers, whatever our sector and whatever we’re selling, get a superb customer experience when they do buy from us?

Like most things, I believe it begins with approach.

  • Instead of ‘winning’ a sale (like it’s some kind of fight – you vs. the customer), let’s consider it an honour to help our customer solve a problem, meet a need or indulge a little.
  • Instead of talking long and hard at the customer, telling them all about the product and why it’s so wonderful, let’s instead listen with genuine interest and attention.
  • Instead of seeing how much we can persuade them to buy, let’s simply offer some appropriate ideas that will push their buying buttons.
  • Instead of trying to push a sale onto a customer, let’s create an enjoyable, welcoming, inclusive conversation in which the customer is drawn towards the right product or service – not put in a position where they only want to bat it away.

Sales achieved through emotional manipulation or creating fear in people are only beneficial in the immediate short term. Going forward, it’s the businesses that help their customers feel good about their purchases and the time they’ve spent with you that reap long term goodwill, reputation and repeat business.

Indeed, selling truly is a customer service activity.