To Sell More, Behave Like a Friend, Not a Salesperson

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Sales Strategies  |  New Rules of Sales & Service  |  Best Practices

“I’m fed up, and I won’t tolerate this anymore!” People just don’t want to be sold to. I’ve heard many variations on this theme from buyers in recent years.

We’re fed up with unwanted phone calls interrupting us at home and at work. We hate wading through hundreds of unsolicited emails. We’ve had it with intrusive social media messages. We’re tired of companies that don’t treat us with respect.

The adversarial approach to selling doesn’t work so well.

My first sales job required me to make cold calls. It was brutal work. Most people were unaware of our firm. And my call was but one of the many sales intrusions each prospect would receive during a business day.

We hated cold calling—"dialing for dollars."

But the technique was necessary because in the years prior to the World Wide Web there were few other ways a potential client might learn about our company.

Unfortunately, many organizations are still operating as if it is still 1986, and they continue to focus massive investments on interrupting people.

We are in a new sales world 

shutterstock_459695089.jpgToday, in a world in which buyers have the ability to do their own independent research, many customers are more educated than the salespeople they do business with. However, many companies and the salespeople they employ have not adjusted their strategy accordingly. They still approach the sales process as if they have the informational upper hand in the relationship.

Your salespeople should assume that they are the last place a buyer goes, not the first. They must assume that very little of their knowledge is proprietary. They need to facilitate the sale, not control the information. And the best way to do that is to treat potential customers the same way you would treat a friend.

There are many simple things you can do to facilitate a relationship. When you begin a conversation with a potential customer, why not follow them on Twitter or other social networks that they use? That’s what you would do if you met somebody at a party.

Sharing information works great, and it doesn’t have to be something that your organization created. We like it when a friend sends an interesting and valuable video, ebook, blog post, or infographic. So why not give the gift of information during the sales process too.

Here are some ideas to think about as you develop a friendly approach to selling:

  • People want authenticity, not spin.
  • People want participation, not propaganda.
  • Companies must drive people into the purchasing process with great content.
  • Blogs, online video, e-books, infographics, and the like let organizations communicate directly with buyers in a form they appreciate.
  • Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn allow people all over the world to share content and connect with the companies they want to do business with.
  • The best organizations customize the buying experience for each customer.
  • The buyer is now in charge of the sales process, and wants to buy on his or her own personal timetable.
  • When a buyer is ready to engage, the company must respond with lightning speed.
  • Instead of causing one-way interruption, making sales is now about delivering content at the precise moment each buyer needs it.
  • Companies must treat people as individuals.
  • When buyers have valuable information at the click of a mouse, it is sellers who need to ask the right questions.

Yes, this is a large list. But it really comes down to ending the adversarial approach to selling. Let’s transform sales together.

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