Just the fact that we want to know how to “sell without selling” shows how many judgements we have against selling. Like somehow it’s bad or it’s wrong or it’s dirty or it’s pushy or whatever.
I would imagine that most of us have had, at some stage or another, the experience of being on the receiving end of pretty poor selling techniques where it felt like we were being pushed. It may have felt like the other person was more interested in serving their agenda than meeting our needs. And if you’re sensitive (you don’t even have to be that sensitive), you might think, “I don’t want people to see me pushy that way.”
I certainly felt like that, so for a long time in my sales career and then in my business career, I was someone who almost leaned back. I was so wanting to avoid being perceived as pushy that I went in the other direction. But, it’s important to recognise that being laid back when it comes to selling doesn’t actually serve the customer any more than being pushy.
Things started to change for me when I learned that the word to sell comes from a Finnish word meaning to serve. When I thought about that I realized, “Well, actually, I’m happy to serve people, and in fact I enjoy serving people, and I enjoy having conversations with people where I find out what they need and then match or don’t match what I have to offer to meet up with that. I can do that.”
That was the moment that everything changed for me.
How You Can Sell Without Selling
I want to give you my three top tips on how you can sell without selling.
Selling Tip #1: Ask Questions and Listen
I discovered this first tip shortly after I learned that the words to sell come from a Finnish word meaning to serve. I was in my office and I took a phone call from someone who had seen one of my articles and she wanted to find out more about how I could help her. Her query specifically related to staff inside of her business.
I started to ask her questions and asked her about what was currently going on – what she wanted to achieve through her staff, what she wanted them to be doing, what was it that they weren’t doing that she wanted them to do and what were they doing that she didn’t want them to do.
We just really started to explore where she currently was and where she wanted to be. As we had this conversation I didn’t even get to the point where I could offer her what I had to offer. She actually said, “You know, as I’m talking to you I realise you’re exactly who I want to work with. How soon can we get started?”
Now, I was blown away because at that point I hadn’t said okay, let me tell you about my training courses. I hadn’t said, let me tell you what I can do. But what she said to me was, “I want my staff, when they’re dealing with people on the phone, to be treating them and making them feel the way that you’re making me feel, Bernadette.”
I realised that all I had done was ask questions and listen.
There is a massive myth that to be successful at selling you have to have the gift of gab. Be the talker. Have plenty to say. But, I’ve actually found the opposite is true.
The more I shut up, the more I just asked questions and listened, the more I sold.
The first thing to do, if you want to sell without selling, is stop thinking about what it is that you want to say and start putting your attention on the other person and asking questions about their current situation, their desired situation and what’s stopping them from having their desired situation. That’s going to open up all sorts of possibilities.
Selling Tip #2: Summarize
Something else I was doing in that conversation is summarising. There was nothing clever about this, but as we were talking, to make sure that I was fully understanding what this lady was telling me, I was regularly summarising.
I was saying things like, “Okay. So what you’re telling me is this is where you currently are and this is where you want to be. Is that right?” Or I was saying things like, “Okay. So what you’re saying to me is you really want to have this but right now you don’t have that because these are the top three obstacles.” Then I would relay the obstacles that she’d just shared with me.
Over and over and over I was summarising back what she was sharing with me. Don’t underestimate just how powerful that is, because when you summarise and you reflect back to the person in that way; first of all they know they’ve been truly heard, which is so important and it’s something that very few people really get to truly experience these days. But, secondly you actually help to clarify their thinking when you act as that mirror, when you summarise and reflect in that way.
Selling Tip #3: Make an Invitation
The third thing to do is to simply make an invitation to the next step. Now, in the example I just shared with you I didn’t even get a chance to do that because she basically said to me, “You know, I can tell you’re the person we want to work with. How soon can we get started?”
It’s marvellous when that happens but sometimes you need, if you’re wearing the sales hat, to be the person that nudges that along. One thing that I might do is just summarise the situation and sometimes I’ll actually say, “So what do you think the next step should be?” Or, “Where do you think we should go from here?”
I’ll ask for their feedback or sometimes I might say, “Well, from what you’re telling me; what it is you want and what’s stopping you, I have something coming up that I think would really help you solve that. Would you like to hear more about it?”
That’s a very soft way of summarising, remembering tip two, and then making an invitation to the next step.
It’s not rocket science folks. It’s three things – you put them together and I promise you, you are going to see a huge difference in your sales results and you’re going to be able to sell more without feeling that you’re doing yucky selling.
I’d love to hear what you think and how this article has helped you. Please add your comments to the chat below. Tell me more about your experiences with selling, either as a sales person or as a customer. Let’s keep the conversation moving …