Saturday, May 29, 2010


Editor’s note: If you love to have others sell to you, don’t read any further. Go straight to the local car dealer and relish the interaction.

Most professional services firm clients will tell you that they don’t want to be “sold” but sometimes they find themselves in a position to buy. The correlate for professional advisors is that while most don’t want to sell, the most successful know how to put themselves in a position to be bought. Getting bought is not selling. In fact, in many ways, it is “unselling.” Unselling is not a gimmick – it is the opposite of a gimmick – it is, in fact, the complete absence of gimmicks. It is the complete presence of genuine, authentic, collaborative advisor, expert and fundamentally decent human being.

Selling => Unselling

Cast a wide net to catch more clients => Be famous for something specific
Find more, new relationships => Evolve existing relationships
Trap ‘em when they’re ready to buy => Build dialogue ahead of identified need
Persistently pester prospects => Considerately connect with content
Present with polish => Listen more, present less
Ask questions that are manipulative => Ask questions that benefit the client
Dodge objections => Discuss the dangerous issues
Hand out pitch books & brochures => Hand out ideas and dialogue
Shorten the cycle – speed to close => Take time to build trust – don’t rush it
Go it alone – eat what you kill => Collaborative rainmaking
Be a strong closer => Let the client set the pace

Sellers view prospective clients as sources of revenue. Unsellers view prospective clients as human beings in organizations with interesting challenges which the unseller is world-class at solving. Unsellers don’t have to do anything unnatural. They don’t change their demeanor when with a prospect instead of an existing client. They don’t feel pressure to manipulate the prospect or to control the dialogue. They’re passionate about the prospect’s situation and enthusiastic about supporting the prospect’s effort to succeed. However, they are cool about forcing the sale.

I recently listened to a podcast by a not-for-profit organization which started with, “This podcast is a gift from our organization to you. If you like what you hear, don’t worry about making a donation. But, please rate the show, provide a review or pass it along to a friend who may benefit in the same way you did.” Talk about unselling – “don’t worry about making a donation.” I liked their attitude. They engaged me. They demonstrated their value as an organization. Like a great professional does, they showed that they were interested in my best interests above their own. They earned the right to ask for a donation but they didn’t. And, as a result, I gave more money than I would have otherwise.

Now, I’m not recommending that you tell your prospects not to buy from you. But, there is something to be said for not thrusting yourself upon a prospect. Once you have earned the right to work with a prospective client by cultivating the relationship over time, sometimes it is most helpful to take a step back and allow your prospect to step forward in your direction.

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