Anyone who has been asked, or asked themselves that question knows how difficult it can be to put into words what may have become second nature after many years in a sales career. The question came to me in 2006 from one of my 8 sales colleagues at an annual sales meeting for our $13M consulting services company. I had posted another record year of sales, consistently ranking at the top over my 12 year history with the firm.
I think my answer was something like, “Well, Ed, I really love my customers. I listen to what they are trying to achieve, and if I feel the services of our company can help them, I am passionate about communicating that in a way that relates to their challenges and desires.”
But I knew there is more to it than that. The question got me thinking — with a strong desire to understand and share how my personal interest in consciousness and spiritual development has paralleled and contributed to my growth and experience as a sales person.
In many ways, my sales success has been somewhat magical — supported by unseen forces that have often paved the way to a sale in spite of my innate resistance to formulaic selling techniques recommended in sales training and books. I have never felt comfortable using manipulative or coercive techniques to win the sale. I prefer the honest approach that builds trust, and delivers on promise.
This approach to selling was beautifully expressed by Harvard Business Review editor, Edward C. Bursk in a 1947 article titled, “Low-Pressure Selling”. Finding this article in one of HBR’s “Ideas With Impact” publications at the Las Vegas airport literally blew me away! Among other things, Edward proposed a selling model that was “not driving the prospect into a buying decision, but letting him reach the decision by himself; not selling him, but letting him buy.” In the 69 years that have passed since this article was written, how many times have we heard, or even said ourselves, how much we dislike being pressured into buying something that we really did not want? How many times has ‘buyer’s remorse’ stricken a pressured buyer who then canceled the sale? If you haven’t seen David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross, since made into a movie with Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon and Alec Baldwin, you must! It portrays this phenomenon beautifully!