Stop selling, help the customer to buy

I liked the designs for my new kitchen that James was showing me. He then talked about the price and without taking a breath said “…and if you buy tonight I can offer 40% discount, but that’s only tonight. Tomorrow it’s the full price” Did this make me want to buy? No it put me off totally. I felt he was trying to manipulate me and presumably thought I was an idiot. If a 40% discount is available without even trying it made me question the ‘real price’, the value, the quality and what a good deal really would be. He came across as desperate. Hard sales doesn’t work. Any trust that had been built earlier was destroyed. To me, “no trust, no sale”.

We sales people are not highly regarded by most people. Many customers are mistrusting of sales people having had their fingers burnt in the past. So one of the priorities of sales people is to build trust. Tricks don’t build trust.

Anyone can sell cheap but to sell well, at the top price and so the customer comes back for more and recommends you that is truly great sales. I work with sales people every week to help them develop their ability to be a trusted adviser and grow profitable sales.

So what do the best of the best do that others don’t?

Here are 8 tips to help you be more successful.

  • Great sales people focus on helping the customer rather than sell ‘stuff’. They work collaboratively with their customer sharing insights and are focused on the customer’s agenda not their own.
  • They have a relationship as equals not a ‘buyer-supplier’ relationship. The conversation is about business, with a point of view based on expertise. They aren’t afraid to challenge the customer’s thinking and will share a different perspective rather than be ‘yes-people’. And no they are not a soft touch. They will qualify hard and fast to ensure they are spending their time on the best and real opportunities. They are ruthless…but with their time.
  • Time will be spent on the most profitable and potentially most profitable customers. Their confidence is real, based on knowing they add real value.
  • Great sales people play for the long term. They will hit this quarter’s target whilst feeding and growing the future pipeline. They don’t mortgage the future to hit this month’s quota.
  • Great sales people don’t rush their customers, they are patient. However they will stress how the future will be better when the customer has made their decision and is enjoying the value of their purchase.
  • One of the skills of great sales people is to get the customer talking and then the best sales people LISTEN. My experience is the best sales people are masters of questions which get the customer thinking. They then give their customer a good listening to, not ‘a good talking to’.
  • We need great sales people more than ever. Customer are smarter. They’ve researched your market before they even talk to you. They have more choice than ever. It is even more important to know how to sell your differentiation, what makes you special and why the customer should pay a premium price.
  • Great sales people aren’t afraid to talk about weaknesses and risks. Then they quickly follow up with strengths which outweigh the weakness rather than avoid that part of the conversation.

So will you proudly be a great sales person or a mediocre one scrabbling to hit target and running round like a headless chicken?

Chris Merrington is the author of “Why do smart people make such stupid mistakes?” – A practical negotiation guide to more profitable client relationships. Chris regularly consults and runs workshops for senior management and sales-teams in the areas of Negotiation, Trusted Adviser Selling and Winning New Business. He can be contacted at