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Tell Me, Don't Sell Me

Control has shifted in the favour of the consumer. Sales people need to be aware of what the consumer is really looking for and how to approach the sale.

How to talk your way into a sale.

The world is changing. People are changing. It's the law of evolution really, it's how the universe works.

So why is it then that so many sales people just don't get that?

Every day you see salespeople who are stuck in what seems to be a universal vortex, a black hole in time that they just can't seem to get themselves out of. They keep defaulting to the old golden sales rules, you know the ones; 'be sure to follow the 7 steps to a sale', or 'only ask yes / no questions so you can drill through objections until the customer simply can't POSSIBLY say no', and then there was the old faithful, 'once in a lifetime opportunity'.

Still today you are faced with sales people looking to beat you into submission, whip out the pen and paper and say the famous line - 'press hard, three copies and the last one is yours'.

And their sales MANAGERS still keep beating the message into them that this process still works..... right?....... yeah riiiiiggghhhttt!

Welcome to 2009. Life is different, in fact it's been different for decades, and it's just that so many sales people have not recognised the consumer shift in the marketplace.

Today's consumers are a new breed of animal, and yes, you are one of them too!... you are clear on what you want and don't want, what you like and dislike, and in a new age sales environment you're not afraid to speak up and let people know what's on your mind. You know that after years of sales repression that you CAN be in control. And that's just what modern day consumers want..... Control!

In fact they want much more than control, they want it all!.. and in modern day business they know that if they ask for it, they can get it. More importantly they know that if it's offered it makes it easier for them to make their decision on when and where they should get what they want. Modern day consumers are tough, prepared, confident, demanding and if you don't show them the love, they are transient.

Now the argument here from sales people all over the world is, 'yes I take your point, but my business is different, you don't understand our category, my customers are not the same as yours, I need to approach them differently.'

Well, united sales sharks of the world, I hate to burst your bubble, but it's not different for you.

Since the turn of the millennium we've been conducting a fair amount of street smart research around the world. And this has shown us that consumers are seeking some very key things in a transaction, any transaction.


Consumers everywhere want good service. That's a given. And don't be confused, service is about being helpful, for my benefit as a consumer, not yours. In other words don't push products or services on to me, simply give me the information you feel I am seeking.


They want a quality product. If it's not quality they will simply return it and expect a refund or replacement - all the time knowing that they are not likely to return.


They want a relationship with the brand that lets them know that the brand will do what it says it is going to do for them and that it will keep its promises. With a relationship comes trust, with trust comes a bond, and with a bond comes their belief of the things you are telling them. That creates an easier path to make a sale.


They want the transaction to be easy. Today's consumers are time poor and become easily frustrated when faced with transactions that consume their time unnecessarily.


Most of all, they want value. Contrary to popular belief, value does not mean getting the product or service cheaper. It's not about money - if the core drivers of service, quality, relationship and ease are present in the transaction, then the consumer will have the perception of value. It's that simple.

And the most important rule of all is that they want to be 'TOLD' about all of these things, not 'sold' as this allows them to retain the control of the transaction they seek.

And when you think about it, this rule shouldn't come as a surprise to you. Since you were born, you've never liked life when you don't have control over it, and you still don't.

So, with these things in mind, as a sales person of the current day, how do you change your ways to tell me not sell me. Here are a few tips.

Talk TO me not AT me - As sales people it is easy to fall into the trap of the repetition or 'formula' of our presentations, and as a result we cut corners in the language we use. Acronyms, idioms, and industry jargon slide easily and quickly off your tongue and fly right past your consumer just as quickly. Give me your message in a language I can understand and would like to receive it in, rather than one you might like to deliver it in.

Make it about ME - As a consumer I really don't care so much about you or how smart you are. I'm more concerned about what you are going to do for me. So first up, asses me as an individual and my unique needs and then work quickly to lock into how you can use that information to your advantage and wind that into your story as you 'tell me' about what you can do for me.

This way it will be much easier to make the entire conversation about me. Key to this process is in the data you gather from me and the way in which you store and use that data, both on the day, and in the future.

Make it real - Get rid of the rhetoric and generic terms in your presentation. Give me the story as if you would deliver it to your mates at a BBQ. I want to know you are real and you are real about how you want to connect with me. That's key to building a relationship.

Give me a promise - In days gone by we used to call this a 'unique selling proposition'. In the current business environment it's sometimes hard to be so unique, so work at delivering the promises you CAN keep in the timelines you really believe you can deliver them. Your word should be your bond. If I believe that, then I will believe that alone is unique enough.

Give me your message with passion - If you don't believe in your product or serviceArticle Search, then how do you expect me to believe you? And believe you me. I can tell if you believe... believe it or not. Your excitement and interest as you tell me about your product or service will certainly help you sell me as you tell me.

At the end of the day selling is not hard. Sales people make it hard for themselves. Get real and tell me your story.

Article Tags: Sales People

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Troy Hazard is the former Global President of the elite Entrepreneurs' Organization, , and has owned, managed and run ten companies in the last two decades. He is an international speaker and author of 'The Naked Entrepreneur'

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