If you want to grow your business there’s one problem that you are going to keep banging up against when it comes to selling: People love to buy but they hate being sold to – and that can make things difficult.

The ‘loving to buy’ part you may question but take shopping for instance, which many of us don’t enjoy so much. I don’t like dragging myself around most shops looking for stuff that I have to buy but put me in a bookshop or an Apple store and I’m like a kid at the beach.

This desire to get something we really want or to take advantage of some promotion or other has seen shopping become a contact sport, with the spectacle of people on Black Friday fighting over a TV or trampling each other underfoot to get a 60% discount on some overpriced item or other. It’s disgusting and disturbing but it does at least demonstrate my point: when people want to buy something, they’re pretty well unstoppable.

The ‘hating to be sold too’ part we all understand. If on your shopping trip somebody appears at your shoulder and asks if ‘you need any help’ then you immediately resist. We hate being sold to so much that an offer of help is seen as undue pressure, and if they keep trying to be ‘helpful’ we will probably hang the thing we were thinking of buying back on the rail and leave the store. Paradoxically, it seems the only way to stop someone buying is to try to sell to them.

It’s exactly the same in business to business or even corporate to corporate sales, for the simple reason that you are not having sales conversations with businesses – you are having sales conversations with people who work for businesses and they’re just like you.

I was recently conducting training for a large insurance company who specialise in insurance for farmers. On the way to the seminar I saw a poster in the lobby with a picture of a young farmer and his comments on the representative who sold him his insurance:

“My local inspector is Nick, and through him our farm gets all its insurance. Nick is great to deal with because he’s not a salesman.”

Nick was one of the 42 participants in the seminar and after I read this out I asked him if he was a salesman and he said he’d always thought he was. When you think about it selling is the only job where it’s a compliment to be told that you’re good at what you do because you’re not like all the other people who do what you do.

So what can we take from this? In essence: people don’t like being sold to and the more we try to sell to them the more they resist. Therefore the key to making more sales must be less selling, simple!

This sounds totally contradictory but only if you buy into the salesperson stereotype and hold onto the idea that the choice you have is to do nothing much or to be a pushy salesperson and persuade people to do what you want, completely ignoring the fact that they are talking to you because buying something from you is what they want or need to do. Once you really get this, you then understand that we don’t have to make the sale happen, we simply have to make the sales process easier. We need to facilitate their need.

The job of the modern salesperson isn’t to persuade people to do something that they don’t want to do, it’s to facilitate their need to do the one thing that they do want to do. The goal of the client is exactly the same as yours: they want the sale to happen. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be talking to you.

You don’t need to persuade someone to do something they already want to do, you only need to relax and help them to do it.

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