If You Want to Grow, You Need to Stop Selling


In the Business to Business setting, the traditional art of selling is dying. The old techniques are no longer effective. Yet, most continue down this path, presenting limited offers, specials and hot deals. The fact is, people don't want to be sold. Information is at our finger tips. When a purchase decision needs to be made, we seek knowledge, we pull from those we deem as credible experts. A push strategy is a flawed strategy.

A push strategy is a flawed strategy.

So does this mean a company needs to just wait until the prospective customer's purchasing need arises and hope that, as they seek out information, they find you? Of course not! What is does mean is that your approach to "selling" needs to change. The traditional method has to do with persuasion, trying to convince others of the value of your offer. Persuasive selling is passé.

People want to be heard, valued, cared for and respected

There is a fundamental axiom that people want to be heard, valued, cared for and respected. That may not be something that the average business person finds easy to articulate, but that does not make it any less true. It is a basic human desire, and modern "selling" is about recognizing this truth. It requires a completely different methodology made up of the following 4 steps:

1. Question
2. Listen
3. Learn
4. Add Value

It starts with the art of the question. You need to understand those with whom you want to do business. Ask them about their challenges, their needs, wants and aspirations. What keeps them up at night? What is preventing them from achieving their objectives? What do their competitors do that they can't and what do they do better than their competitors?

A good question is wasted when you fail to hear the answer

Remember, a good question is wasted when you fail to hear the answer. Listening is critical. This sounds simple on the surface, but proves to be one of the hardest tasks to do well. Even the most steadfast in their desire to listen will find it difficult to remain silent when they believe they have heard a need for which they have a solution. Resist the temptation and just listen. Not only is it a great way to show and earn respect, you may find that the initial need is only superficial to a greater one.

Buyers look for experts. To be successful, you must be a lifelong student. Learn by consuming information. Know your markets, your products, your competitors and customers better than anyone. Knowledge is a competitive advantage. The more you know, the more valuable you are to your customers.

Knowledge is a competitive advantage

That brings us to the last step, to share what you know freely and frequently. All of this work to acquire knowledge leads most to be reluctant to give it away. But, adding value is the most effective form of marketing. It strengthens your role as an expert and creates the all important top of mind awareness needed to encourage a customer to reach out. This can also be the trickiest step in the process. Here is where you want to share what you have learned in hopes of creating an awakening by the customer to a need. You want them to connect the dots, between what you know and offer and what they need and lack. You cannot force that connection; you can only pave the path.

Adding value is the most effective form of marketing

This is a radical departure from what we have taught our sales professionals. But, the reality is that this new world where whatever we want to know is at our fingertips has changed they way we make purchasing decisions. The days of cold calling and door knocking have long since past.

Thanks for reading.

Elliot Begoun is a Business Growth Consultant and the Principal of The Intertwine Group. His purpose is to help businesses and business leaders grow. He works to solve real issues, establish strategic guardrails, develop integrative leaders and foster employee enlightenment.

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The article first appeared in the GROW BLOG