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Truth is Less Subjective When You Sell from a Position of Neutrality

Mediocre sales people are attracted to sales strategies that are commonly viewed as a strength, but so often they are just a weakness. Traditional selling usually relies heavily on selling from a position of control, power, enthusiasm, force of will and authority. Mainstream selling so often repels as opposed to attracks. It relies too much on being conspicuous, pompous and having all the answers.

Selling from a position of neutrality is the exact opposite. It is devoid of rhetoric, hype, propaganda and pumped up enthusiasm. It makes no demands, it has few needs. It does not move against anything and it is not strongly for any predetermined agenda. Selling from a position of neutrality does not have a win/lose posture. Since someone invariably loses in a win/lose scenario there is so often bad will. It does not require constant defending and promotion, and therefore it is not subjected to rigorous proof and validation.

When one sells from a position of neutrality questions and transparency becomes one's currency for persuasion. Instead of being opportunistic and offering quick and easy solutions, it relies heavily on building a business case for change and helping customers find their own council.

Neutral selling requires a lot of maturity and poise, because it is non-exploitative, non-manipulative, non-dogmatic and does not sell from a fixed position or viewpoint. It goes with the flow realizing that very few selling situations are straightforward. Because selling is not about logic, reason and facts, when one sells from a position of neutrality, one is chiefly concerned with uncovering the truth and understanding the divergent perceptions of reality for one's customer. Selling is truly about perceptions, gut feelings and emotions, so a sales person has to really understand all mixed motives and competing emotions customers go through when they are considering change and action.

Customers so often do things for reasons we never understand. At one point they are totally interested, the next moment they do not recognize our name and have totally forgotten about us. It is simply reality. When you take a pragmatic, honest and realistic approach with customers, you are not emotionally invested in the outcome. It is so much easier to preserve your dignity when you are neutral. So long as you realize that truth and reality are subjective you do not get so wrapped up in pushing a one-sided sales agenda.

It takes emotional intelligence to deal with some customers who have the professional indifference of a hangman when it comes to trying to understand their unique point of view. If they are not reciprocating then it usually is in your best interest to reconsider whether you can get a fair return on your investment. When you approach your customers with radical honesty and eye–opening forthrightness, you greatly increase your percentages of getting to the truth.

When sales people opt for expediency and insist on the ends justify the means they will get customers who will filibuster them. The means is the end when you sell from a point of neutrality. When you are not full of self-service and you serve your customers best interests, you will generally appeal to their higher nature. It is like the difference between a politician (sales man) and a statesman. The statesman is a unifer. They take stock of everything and look for alternatives and common ground. They can read people and size up opportunities, and they never go further than they need to.

A position of neutrality represents stewardship; a responsibility to exercise influence for the greater good of all parties involved. It requires one to face truth and reality with courage. You also do not dispense information as much as help interpret and prioritize. You inspire your customers to have the faith and confidence to find their own answers. Your position is, no one is ultimately right or wrong. The major limitation for most sales people in taking on a position of stewardship is its innocence, or its non-intrusive nature. It is devoid of dazzle, superficial style, slick presentations, obnoxious high-energy and intolerance of dissenting viewpoints.

Expectation free selling epitomize a position of neutrality. Traditional sales people want customers aligned to their expectations. When you sell from a position of neutrality you are aligned with the customer's expectations. Neutral selling also has the added bonus that it is pressure free and very disarming for customers.

Sales when done properly is an "allowing process" versus a "getting process" or "doing process." It is difficult to grasp the position of neutrality for the uninitiated, because instead of progressing and moving forward to the ultimate goal, one slows down and takes two steps backwards before one moves three steps forward. Sales people who are so goal oriented and task oriented achieve a false sense of security. So often they are moving forward prematurely with a customer who is not ready and willing.

When reading about alcoholics anonymous I was very impressed with their position of neutrality. They are very nonjudgmental:

  • Not aligned with any religion or organization.
  • It is neither for or against any other approach.
  • Its principles are suggestions.
  • They leave choices up to the individual.
  • They have a practice of tolerance and goodwill.
  • They do not try to control anyone.

You cannot be less intrusive and non-righteous than AA. Their process very much reminds me of a sales person who sells from a position of neutrality.

"As in the martial arts, taking a rigid position becomes a point of vulnerability; that which does not bend is liable to break. Rising above barriers or opposition that dissipates one's energy, the neutral condition allows for flexibility and nonjudgemental, realistic appraisal of problems. To be neutral means to be relatively unattached to outcomes; not getting one's way is no longer experienced as defeating, frightening, or frustrating. When you are neutral you are hard to control," says Dr. David Hawkins.

The position of neutrality honors opposing dissenting viewpoints and is not interested in determining who is right or wrong. Since it honors equality, it makes selling so much easier and so less stressful. Most sales people die by their own hand, because they insist on projecting authority, control and irrational exuberance, which just marginalizes, destabilizes and neutralizes their position.

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