The Paradox of Selling, Simple and In Your Face

rantRantmaster (among other titles) Jack Hubbard , over at St. Meyer & Hubbard, has a lovely little blog piece whose simple charm belies the depth of its message.

Seems Jack’s wife got laid up due to a fall. So Jack had to curtail his travel schedule.

This meant two things. First, an exploratory trip to a piano store to satisfy a long-lasting desire by Jack which would keep him (and his wife) entertained for the weeks of enforced home time.

Second, a call from American Airlines Platinum asking Jack if his many cancellations meant they’d done anything wrong.

The details are worth reading, but basically, the piano guy kept calling with harassing product-based demands for Jack to buy a piano. And the American Airlines guy called back just to see how Jack’s wife was doing.

Small difference? Big difference, as Jack explains well.

Buyers Are Happy to Buy, They Just Don’t Want to be Sold

The paradox of selling, put as simply as I can, is that if you are willing to give up your attachment to the sale, you are more likely to get the sale. And that is counter to almost every sales program you’ll read, which all teach you—in the latest and greatest neuro-behavioral-process language–precisely how to get the sale. Now, that’s attachment.

The real answer of how to get the sale is: stop trying to get the sale.

You do not increase sales by concentrating all your energy and attention on getting the sale: paradoxically that just broadcasts how selfish you are.

Instead, you do what the American Airlines guy did: you focus on the customer’s needs—even if those needs don’t immediately have to do with your product.

Does that mean the American Air guy didn’t want to sell? That he had no quota, or interest, or that he was giving away free product? Heck no. He just saw the bigger picture.

Stop Trying the Close the Sale

It’s accepted wisdom in most parts that you should pretty much always be trying to get, and to close, the sale. Well, not so fast.

The bigger picture is, people buy from those who actually seem to give a damn, to actually care about their customers. Customers know the deal, they know how you get paid and that you’re in business to make sales. They just don’t want you shoving it up their nose at every turn.

The paradox is: if you’re willing to help people and not turn every interaction into a “closing moment,” ironically people become more willing to buy from you. It’s not a trick, it’s not a gimmick: people genuinely prefer to deal with people who behave generously toward them.

Does it work? Of course it does. The amazing thing is, it’s so simple. Be decent to people–people prefer to buy from decent people. Why haven’t sales authors and sales trainers picked up on this non-secret?

Here’s Jack’s take-away:

Mrs. Hubbard? She is fine now, thanks. And she is much more likely to step onto an American Airlines plane in the future than to ever step foot back in that piano store.

‘Nuff said. Thanks, Jack.

3 replies
  1. Greg Falken
    Greg Falken says:

    Very appropriate post for me, as I’m meeting next week with a company president, whom I also know personally, to talk about social networking for his company. I had been wondering how to broach the subject of what I can do for him and for how much. I think instead that it’s just going to be a conversation about possibilities for his business and trying to educate him about the process. If we talk about what I do and for how much, it will be when he asks.

    Thanks for validating what I had suspected all along would be the best appoach.

  2. Matjaz Bevk
    Matjaz Bevk says:

    Great post! Being customer centric, being helpful and constructive is the key to closing a sale. The worst thing you could do is selfishly push the customer for signing the contract.  Your post explains this concept in the nicest way. Congratulations!

  3. Mike L.
    Mike L. says:

    Good stuff. You clearly and with great verbal visuals express some of the best sales advice I ever heard — from a real pro who had been in the company’s top 1% for about 40 years even though he stoppped working entirely during duck season and usually only worked maybe 2-3 days a week .

    "Be easy to buy from."


    Now sir, if you are up for a challenge, I would be very interesting in seeing a post on how to apply this philosophy to a "Request For Proposal" system that many companies insist on using these days….and please, as most of your readers are prfoessionals, I think we all know the real solution is to earn trust before the RFP process even begins. But more often than not, sales professionals these days are stretched thin, often wear more than just a "sales" hat, and frankly must answer to some bossess. Bossess who tell the sales person: "This RFP just came in. Get on it."


    I look forward to seeing a post that covers that topic.




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