The first rule of sales: people don’t like to be sold

The first and most fundamental rule of selling is that people don’t like to be sold to. It’s a paradox: people buy things all the time. Trillions of dollars worth of products and services are bought and sold, in stores, through the mail, on the Internet. So how come people don’t like being sold when so much obviously happens?

The answer is that they are sold without realizing it. People like to buy things, because buying makes them feel in control. being sold, on the contrary, implies being controlled.

Take the familiar stereotype of the used car salesman. Customer #1 goes to the dealership, and before he’s had a chance to express what he’s looking for, the overbearing, chatty salesman tries to pin him on a heavy, expensive luxury car. What the salesperson would have discovered, if he had bothered to find out, is that this customer is on a budget; you want a reliable, fuel-efficient car.

Client #2 is a young mother. She gets the same treatment, but what she really wants is a car that is safe to take her children. Customer #3 also gets the luxury car down his throat, but he’s a single man with a lot of money who wants to impress single women: he wants a bright red sports car.

All three customers want and need a car, but they don’t trust the salesman, because he obviously doesn’t care about their wishes. What if the other car dealer, down the line, really “gets it” about helping these customers find what they really want? They would get all the business, right?

A good salesperson, car or anything else, makes their prospect feel good about buying the product or service, not forced, coerced, or duped. They want the salesperson to understand their wants and needs, and to satisfy them.

As salespeople, we create in our prospects the desire to buy by appealing to their emotions. An effective used car salesman would appeal to Customer #1’s desire for economy, Customer #2’s desire for safety, and Customer #3’s desire to attract the attention of the opposite sex.

If you do this successfully, your client will not feel sold because you have provided the solution to their problem. Understand your customer’s buying motives and you’ll be able to create sales messages that speak to their wants and needs, their wants and dreams, and they’ll come to your door, eager to buy from you.

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