Strategic Selling is a Means to an End to Understand Not Sell
Selling becomes a problem when you are selling to fulfill your potential and not the customers. The non-selling posture is an internal mechanism to control one's urge and impulsiveness to sell with abandon. This selling strategy transcends product, company, and self-interest so one can be more customer-centered.
Your point of influence is not to influence, it is to advise and counsel. The only way to do so is first by gathering lots of information. Most sales people who try to sell with influence get a false sense of security that they have the means to carry it off. In most sales situations, if prospects do not need or want your insight or counsel, you will ultimately have very little influence. Your influence and gravitas is in the exploration process, not in the solution process. You need to give customers enough space and questions so they can explore their own answers.
When you insist, customers are inclined to resist. Where selling gets off on the wrong note is when sellers are so positive and optimistic, leading prospects to be so skeptical and reluctant. So be more genuine and realistic in your approach and earn the right to be optimistic. That means pacing the customer in an appropriate manner in direct proportion to their intent, motivation to change, willingness to share information and reasons to take action. The non-selling posture is all about not underestimating the will and intelligence of your customers. It is about believing in your customer to do what is best for them, not for you.
Some doubters will look at the non-selling posture as self-sacrifice and too customer focused. Think of it this way, why would you want to sacrifice your valuable personal time and resources if a customer lacks motive to change, means, authority, timing, and the will and commitment to act. In this and many similar situations, what is good for the goose (customer), is good for the gander (sales person). The non-selling postures is plain old Yankee pragmatism even though it may seem a tad altruistic and idealistic. Which it is not!
It is amazing how sales can arrive ready-made so to speak when you focus more on finding the right opportunities, instead of trying to make the right opportunities with mirror foggers. The art of selection, sifting and sorting will consistently trump selling, because conventional selling requires a rare innate skill of trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Few mortals can pull this off consistently. The non-selling posture is deceptively nimble and intuitive. That is the good news and the bad news. Both intuitive and simple is not easy for talking heads who love to force their agenda, point of view and goals.
If one had sales religion this would be it; grant me the wisdom to know where I should spend my time and resources to get the best return on my investment, and the wisdom to know where I cannot sell and make a difference, and know the difference.
When you are in the non-selling posture zone, you are constantly aware of the supply and demand forces in the marketplace, and you make your business decisions based on those variables. The non-selling posture asks the sales person to think how indispensable their participation is in the customer's buying experience. From the customer's perspective do you enhance or detract from the experience? If your insight and input is not respected or needed, you will be vulnerable in being easily dispensed with.
Selling is the study of human behavior. It is difficult to read, understand and analyze human behavior when you are grossly preoccupied doing all the talking and controlling. The non-selling posture is about taking a low profile so that your customer's issues can be high-profile. To execute this properly you have to be very independent of your company and your offering.
The non-selling mindset takes a lot of diplomatic skills and being very adaptive, because customers are preconditioned to being freely educated. Instead of relying on your product/service information, one uses questions as a transformative experience for customers to better understand the ins and outs of their business and challenges. As you give more freedom to your customers, you become more free yourself, resulting in being more authentic, real, pressure free and relaxed. This forces one to take very little for granted, and when you do that it can be such a transformative and positive learning experience for your customer because they love to tell their own personal story, provided they trust you and your insight.
Sales people should come into a sales call supple, flexible and open to anything. Yet too often they come in to a call firm, hard, ready to struggle and fully loaded to convince and persuade. Conventional sales people approach selling as a means to an end to sell, instead of a means to an end to understand. The non-selling posture represents the art of understanding more so than the art of being understood.
Conventional sales people trigger too often the absolute worse responses, and so often bring out the worst in people, who under normal circumstances, are accommodating and fair-minded. When you lead with your information and your goals anything you say and do puts customers on high alert and on edge, and puts your information claims under a very unforgiving microscope. Most customers are hypersensitive to any claims that are self-serving. They frequently just distrust mainstream sellers because they have their emotional self-worth and their economic self-worth riding on the sale.
Everyone has to come clean and meet one another in the middle to maximize the non-selling posture. This obviously will not happen all the time. But it is a worthy goal. The non-selling posture is not popular because it is labor-intensive in time and emotion for both parties on the front-end. It therefore requires a lot of trust and confidence. It allows customers to have a lot of autonomy in calling the shots. However, the front-end investment saves you so much time in the overall grand scheme of things.
A sales strategy of mutual consent like this can be intimidating to forward charging sales people who relish being in control. When you communicate a common purpose of what is good for the goose (customer), is ultimately good for the gander (sales person), it can have conventional sellers feeling initially at risk of being vulnerable.