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A Devil's Advocate is the Ultimate Customer Evangelist

The non-selling posture lets your customers be forearmed and forewarned about the positives and negatives of change. It is about yielding your story for their far more important story. You can do this by being a devil's advocate.

Webster's Dictionary defines a devil advocate as one who argues against a cause or position; not as a committed opponent but simply to determine the validity of the cause or position. Its goal is to provoke transparent and open dialogue, and subject a plan or a position to thorough examination to uncover flaws and contradictions.

A devil's advocate thrieves on being brutally honest in a very professional way. One asks counter-intuitive questions that build trust and gets to the truth of the customer's motives and unique point of view.

Your unwillingness to call it the way you see it, speak the truth and be forthright in your approach, compromises future productive dialogue with customers, because you are carrying around unresolved issues that will taint your interpersonal communication.

You need to effectively reduce the use of authority when you sell if you want to be viewed as credible and unbiased. "When you sell, what authority do you succumb? When we sell, information is presented to enhance or demure the perception of authority. This, the projection of that information is supposed to possess validity to impress others. When such information is presented to others, dressed in the trappings of authority the information doesn't appear to be valid; for your customer has a gut feeling that it doesn't resonate with them and they question the validity," says Greg Williams.

The key to the non-selling posture is to desensitize yourself to results and sensitize yourself to understand. Mainstream sales people behave like they have a lot riding on the sale. This kills credibility, trust and respect. When you project a defenseless posture it is easier to get customers to invite you into their world. So you need to upset and disrupt the balance of unequal business stature.

When the sales call becomes a search for the real issues, and collaboration is respected on both sides, then persuasion is deemed unnecessary and counter-productive. "Persuasion exists when someone takes a stand where they are willing to move," said Krishnamurthi. Is the customer willing to meet you halfway? Can you seek a common ground?

When your customer does not feel a forced sense of obligation, or does not perceive you having a sense of entitlement, they will be more apt to lessen their grip on subtle deception and manipulation. This is the epitome of obligation-free selling on the part of both parties, and is the cornerstone of the non-selling posture. Ideally both parties are transparent with the common goal of getting to reality as quickly as possible.

You want to subvert all your customer's expectations of a stereotypical sales call. Customers view most conventional sales people as boringly repetitive and crushingly predictable. Be a breath of fresh air. The non-selling posture is so unpredictably refreshing because it does not take customers for granted. When you become overly accessible and eager (to sell), customers tend to become less accessible as a defense mechanism.

"Always start from a neutral position. It gives you more control. Refrain from being overly positive. It forces prospects to sell to you; they need you to play. Don't try being overly positive by hoping to convince your way into the prospect's world," says Terry Slattery. The more neutral you you are, the more sensitive information you will tend to get. The more positive and eager you are, the more superficial information you and your customer gets.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com