I recently was coaching a sales person named Mitch. He has a great personally, affable and really enjoys people. When he attends networking events, he lights up – and so do the people he’s talking to. But when it comes to selling, he quickly goes for the sales jugular.  

Mitch is left wondering why he didn’t get the sale. It’s simple: no one likes to be sold. But, most people like to buy!! No one wants to be shoved into something. No one likes to feel rushed or like they are simply a quota for someone’s sales figures for the month.  

Here’s what Mitch keeps missing: People want to feel like you care, like you’re listening. Everyone has their own lives and stuff they worry about. Unless you really invest your time in someone, why would they invest their money in you?  

And it’s not just sales, it’s LIFE. Any relationship is a give-and-take investment. Need help with the PTA fundraising? Try getting to know the other parents’ schedules and passions and talents before asking Sally, who is an introvert, to head up the cold-calling initiative. Don’t task Don, the dad who loves to be around people and coaches kids’ soccer, with organizing the seating chart. 

Take your time. Don’t just rush in for the pitch.  By the simple act of asking a few, open-ended questions and then really listening, you move from the ‘pushy’ column to the ‘I like him/her’ column – which is the best way to sell yourself, your product, your need.  

Next, I told Mitch to focus on their needs, not his product or his pitch. People care about their own business, and their own lives, so find out what their needs are – their sticking points – then find a way to help. You’re looking to act as a helpful partner in their business or project, not a pushy salesperson!  

After working with Mitch for a while, he was able to see that the more his potential clients knew he had ‘heard’ their concerns, the more willing they were to trust him with their future investments. Mitch had to learn the fine art of asking questions. 

As he refined the ability to hear what someone else needed (instead of the sale he needed!), he saw the opportunity to pitch soon enough – the skill in landing a ‘yes’ is to listen for the need. Don’t sell someone on what they already have, sell them on what you have that fills their need! 

Next time, you feel yourself jumping for the sale – going for the sales jugular and being pushy – slow down a moment and reflect: What would you want from this interaction? How can you make it a win for both of you? Then pull them into the conversation with small, but important talk. Don’t push your solution on them, instead, draw them along and invite them to buy. Invites are so much more effective than mandates!