Of Course People Want to Be Sold

Of Course People Want to Be Sold

For God’s sake can we please stop talking about sales like it’s 1954? Don’t you cringe when you hear people say things like “People don’t want to be sold? Is it really your experience that salespeople are walking into their prospect’s doors spraying and praying? I’d have an easier time believing that you had to nudge the salesperson out of their diagnosis long enough to pitch you.

If you say something like “people don’t want to be sold,” it’s only true if you are talking about sales four decades ago. It’s true if by that you mean spray and pray, pitch, withhold information, and use tie downs and closing techniques from a time before most salespeople were born.

Of course people want to “be sold.”

Why wouldn’t they want someone to help them understand their business challenges? Why wouldn’t they want someone with subject matter expertise and business acumen to help them understand the choices available to them in improving their performance? Why wouldn’t they benefit from having a smart, thoughtful salesperson help them resolve the concerns they have about upsetting the status quo?

Does anyone really believe that their prospective clients don’t want someone to help build consensus around change, someone to help justify the decision to change, and someone to hold accountable for those new results?

As for selling, who wants to buy from someone that doesn’t believe so strongly in what they sell that they will advocate vociferously for the opportunity to serve their prospective client?

Of course, no one wants to “be sold” by a salesperson that does any of these things poorly. But they also don’t want to go to a doctor that practices medicine poorly, or a lawyer that practices law poorly (this list could go on ad infinitum). That doesn’t mean they don’t still need a doctor or a lawyer.

Salespeople and sales organizations have been in tune with and adapted to the changes that have occurred over the last forty years in real time. The changes in the way we sell were underway long before the chattering class decided to weigh in with their ideas. How else could we have sold so much?

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  • http://twitter.com/Mike_Kunkle Mike Kunkle

    I’ve been using the medical analogy a lot lately. People seem to get that – it resonates better than other analogies for some reason. The difference, I think is that we seem to take sales a lot less seriously than other professions. Almost anyone can break into it. I think many still hire on stereotypes, although many companies are getting smarter about selection. (I still see a wide mix.) And we still tend to lump everything under the heading of “sales” whether it’s a self-lead-gen, B2C insurance gig or a high-ticket, long cycle, complex B2B sale. A Ferrari and a Bentley are both cars and both great ones, but they’re a world apart in important ways. No different with “sales.”

    Dave Brock and I were reminiscing recently about the days when the sales onboarding process was months long. The longest I’ve seen recently is 3 weeks. Company leaders now often want it done in days. Still, smart people recognize it’s a process, but there is still a gap between what we know and what we do. This is the stuff that keeps me up at night. ;-)

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

      Mike: I can’t be any happier to learn that you are (still) up at night thinking about this. And you and Dave Brock together? Forget about it! I agree that all sales aren’t equal. I’ve seen too many people that succeeded in one type fail in another.

  • Luke Brown

    I have said this for years in explaining sales to both sales and non-sales people. People sell and buy in multiple ways. If a sales person only knows one method of selling, they will sell to an average number of people. When sales reps increase the different ways in which they sell, they can sell to many more people, increasing closing rates significantly.

    ‘Being sold’ is less common today than 20 years ago but it still exists. The sellers who recognize people who want to be sold – who even like being sold – will reap the benefits for themselves and their company.

  • Matt – BPO24hour.com

    have to agree and also the emphasis on “knowing” what your selling comes down to the same medical version. Good product knowledge shows a passion and interest in what your doing. That reflects in sales and the fact people trust buying from someone who knows what they are talking about.

  • http://twitter.com/RussThoman The Responsive Edge

    Yes and no.

    The medical and legal analogies provide important insight to an interesting distinction: Generally speaking, those seeking to be ‘sold’ have already become aware of their need or want. We ‘go to’ the doctor. We ‘go to’ the attorney. People who like being ‘sold’ are people who are first open to being ‘sold’. (This ‘awareness’ can happen before the seller knocks on the door, or during the presentation of an initial prospecting offer.)

    As for the rest of the population, I would invite the reader to ask twenty peeps on his or her next lunch break if they like being ‘sold’ to by today’s sellers, specifically in regard to a need they feel little urgency in meeting. What one would find in such a social experiment is that the majority of people do not like being ‘sold’ to (go ahead, try it). However, here’s the good news: If one digs a little deeper, what s/he will find is that it isn’t the act of selling they’re objecting to, but ‘how’ they’re being sold to.

    Takeaway: Go ahead and spray (skip the “I’m-attached-to-the-outcome” prayer; it will only hurt your efforts, but that’s another discussion), and only engage those who WANT to engage you. People like being ‘sold’ to when they are open to being ‘sold’ to.

    “Your success in selling is more dependent on your ability to find Wanting Prospects than on your selling skills.” ~The Best Seller, D. Forbes Ley, MBA

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

      I’m not sure, Russ. There are a lot of people that need help but haven’t yet recognized that fact. In my experience, waiting until they discover they want something means that they go longer without getting a better outcomes–and you go longer without the opportunity to serve them. More and more, people are struggling to produce results; they’re open to ideas and help from a savvy, professional salesperson.

      I struggle with the idea of waiting as a recipe for success in sales. Or anything else.