This post is part of our Weekly Tips series.

Looks like I’m on a bit of a roll with the sales topic. That’s partly because the topic is germane no matter what title your business card indicates (every single one of us is selling ideas), and partly because there’s so much really bad advice out there about how to do it.

Last week, I talked about the conundrum we all face because (1) we hate what we have come to associate with selling and (2) still, we have to do it. I proposed a ridiculously simple antidote—so simple that I cautioned you not to dismiss it: Stop selling; start helping. And then I promised five best practices for doing exactly that.

[Tweet “Five best practices to transform your “#sales” (P.S. We’re all in sales)  #getreal”]

Here they are:

  1. Get your mindset right. Remember, the goal of trust-based selling is radically different from the goal of traditional selling: it’s to help them do what’s right for them, not to convince them to buy from you. The difference is huge. Helping is other-focused, non-manipulative, and trust-building. Get your intentions aligned and all the right behaviors will naturally follow.
  2. Understand their motives. Take the time to listen until you understand where they’re coming from. Focus less on the answers, and more on empathy and understanding. When someone is willing to be influenced by you, it’s not because he has been persuaded by your stunning intellect and your perfectly-articulated points; it is because he feels emotionally comfortable with the decision.
  3. Let go of any one particular sale. While doing the right thing for your buyer may cost you an immediate sale, it will surely gain you at least as many initial sales, more repeat sales, and far more referrals in the long run.
  4. Keep your personal needs out of it. Don’t push for a commitment because of your own incentives, passions, frustrations, or desires for closure. Instead, follow her lead. Work from her timetable.
  5. Stop thinking/talking/acting as though you need to “close” something. An over-emphasis on closing usually leads to fewer sales. Think about it: If you’re focused on closing, you’re focused on yourself. You’re not helping them decide. You’re not building a relationship.
    When you sense it is time for committed action, simply ask questions like:

    “What needs doing next?”

    “Where should we go from here?”

    “What makes sense now?”

    Then have a candid discussion about the answer.

If five is too many best practices to remember or apply, then winnow it down to just one: get your mindset right. Paradoxically, you’ll generate many more “sales” when you stop trying to sell.

Yes, it really is that simple.

Make It Real

This week, bring to mind a time when you did not successfully “close a sale.” To what extent did you apply the five practices above? What will you do differently next time?

Learn More

Discover four more ways to take the “sell” out of selling, or read up on selling to executives in Chapter 18 of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).