Without “Without Selling”

A cottage industry has sprung up to serve salespeople. Well, they don’t really serve salespeople. They really serve people who work in sales, who have job titles that indicate that they might be in sales, but who really aren’t salespeople.

This cottage industry markets to this group of non-salespeople-who-happen-to-work-in-sales with books, blog posts, webinars, and training seminars that are built around the idea that salespeople can gain customers without actually selling.

The cottage industry actually believes that they can teach non-salespeople-who-happen-to-work-in-sales to acquire customers without selling because they do it themselves. But what they do and what they teach is something far different (and something far less) than selling.

What Is Selling?

Selling is the creation of relationships that allow people and companies to come together to create something that didn’t before exist. It is the creation of mutually advantageous partnerships to do something worthwhile.

Selling is opening these relationships.

Selling is differentiating your offering in a crowded marketplace. It is telling your story and demonstrating the ways in which you help people and companies are superior to everybody else’s.

Selling is differentiating.

Selling is the exploration of the client’s needs. It is the diagnosis of their most complex business problems and their most pressing business needs. Selling is the discovery of how those problems can be solved and how the opportunities that exist can best be exploited.

Selling is diagnosing these needs and helping achieve business outcomes.

Selling is asking for and obtaining commitments to move the relationship forward and to work together.

Selling is asking for an obtaining these commitments.

Selling is a lot of things, but one thing it is not is easy. It takes a complex set of attributes and skills and whole lot of desire.

What Would You Go Without?

To be effective in sales, it is impossible to go without opening the relationships. Can you imagine selling without opening relationships?

To be effective in sales, you have to differentiate yourself and your company. Can you imagine selling without a differentiation strategy?

To succeed in sales, you have to be able to diagnose the client’s problems, understand their business and your business, and possess the business acumen to create something that solves problems. Can you imagine selling without?

Part of selling is asking for and obtaining commitments that move the business relationship forward. We call this closing, and it doesn’t connote anything negative. (Don’t worry, I won’t even ask. I know you can’t imagine)

There are non-salespeople-who-happen-to-work-in-sales who imagine they can sell without selling. And there is a cottage industry that preys on this weakness with marketing tactics that sell the dream that success in sales can be had without actually selling.

The cottage industry markets the idea that relationships can be opened without prospecting and deals made without actually asking for commitments. This is dishonest, it is harmful, and it damages both the person who would be a salesperson and the profession. It damages the salesperson by allowing them to retain the false idea that clients can be obtained without selling. It damages the profession by creating a group of would-be salespeople who are never trained and developed to sell.

The reason the cottage industry is so successful in acquiring customers using their marketing techniques is because they are simply preying on our would-be salespersons hopes and fears. They understand how to attract these would-be salespeople, but they never do anything to deliver real business results. This makes them something less than salespeople doing something less than selling.

The cottage industry is the picks and shovels gang selling the dream that your riches await, and that the gold will jump from the mine and into your pocket if you just buy their picks, their shovels, and their map. They are no different than the marketers that sell the idea that you can be thin without diet and exercise, and the idea that you can be rich without working hard for a long time.

The cottage industry treats selling like it is dishonorable while they market lies and sell false hopes that they have no ability to deliver.

Without ‘Without Selling”

If “without selling,” means making people believe something that isn’t true, if it is marketing false hope, then we are all better off sticking with selling.

If “without selling,” means taking money and never delivering the value promised, then selling is a far, far better choice.

Instead of allowing the dream of selling without selling to exist, we are better off teaching and training salespeople to sell and to create real value for their clients.

Personally, I can do without “without selling.”

Conclusion

There is no way to succeed in sales without selling. Selling requires opening relationships and prospecting, and it requires asking for and obtaining commitments. The cottage industry that markets the idea that success can be had without these are marketing a lie. The profession would do well to train their salespeople to sell instead of giving them false hope.

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Comments

comments

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  • http://frankflow@wordpress.com Frank

    I can only agree with you here. Not only that, but the non-sales-sales-person will become very unhappy with themselves and the job in time. I think this happens to people who are knowledgeable about a certain thing and the business tries to utilize that knowledge by moving that individual into sales. Problems and issues are quick to follow causing more stress for everyone. At the end of day, everyone in the process will be left dissatisfied.

  • http://www.salesdujour.com Gary S. Hart

    Anthony,

    Wherever there is weakness, fear, or laziness seeking a magic-wand-solution, con-artists will emerge with a scam. As my grandmother said, “cream always rises to the top.”

    Thanks for stepping up and hitting a bad pitch out of the park.

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  • http://www.ianbrodie.com Ian Brodie

    Hi Anthony,

    What a great post – very true.

    I think there’s a different side to it too though.

    Sometimes the “without selling” isn’t just preying on the hope some people that they won’t need to sell. Sometimes it marketing vs the (mis) perception and stereotypes people have about selling.

    In this case, the advice given is often very sound. it includes all the things you listed above. In fact much of the “without selling” advice simply teaches actually people how to sell – but it claims that’s not how “traditional salespeople” sell. It contrasts it’s approach with “pushy” salespeople who cold call and fast talk.

    So it teaches good stuff – but it tends to annoy me because it perpetuates myths and stereotypes about what selling is about even though successful salespeople have never sold like that.

    Ian

    • http://www.santhonyiannarino.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for the comments, Ian. I agree; there are so few that still use a hard sell, it doesn’t make sense to teach salespeople to people softer. They are too soft already, with the exception of maybe, people who sell gym memberships.