Instead of Selling, Focus on Serving

Selling.  It’s kind of a dirty word.  What do you think of when you hear the word “sell” or you think of men and women who make a living in sales?  Does the image of the stereotypical sleazy salesman come to mind?  Some dude working at the used car lot wearing an unfortunate outfit.  Maybe a mustache.  Pressuring you into making a purchase or perhaps lying (or at least bending the truth) to try and close the sale.  None of us wants to be in that type of terrible sales situation.  We want to feel in control of our purchases and be confident that we spent our money wisely on something of the best value and highest quality.

It seems traditional sales strategies aren’t working because people have so much more information about what they’re buying before the sale is even made.  You can’t really “pull a fast one” or sell a product or service that doesn’t live up to the advertisement or expectation of the shopper.  In some cases, customers might have done such extensive research that they now know more about the product or service than the salesperson.

How much research do you do before making a purchase?  If you’re like me, at the very least, you do a Google search to locate the item you want to purchase and see how much it costs.  But for larger purchases, I’ll conduct a search on Amazon to compare features and prices, check out reviews, or even inquire on Facebook to get recommendations from friends.  That’s a lot of effort to research and no money has even exchanged hands!

But what if selling was approached in a radically different way?

Because here’s the twist … none of us wants to be sold to, but … we all want to buy!

What if instead of using traditional sales methods in business, we instead focused on serving the needs of customers or clients by listening to what their problems are and then solving those problems with the products or services available from our business.  Rather than selling, the focus shifts to serving your customers or clients to create lasting relationships and confidence in your business.  To build a better business, instead of selling, focus on serving.

This summer I was fortunate to attend a conference and hear Sharon Lechter speak.  Sharon co-authored Rich Dad, Poor Dad and writes for the Napoleon Hill Foundation as well as being an entrepreneur herself.  She spoke to us primarily about her book, Think and Grow Rich for Women, which is a more modern version of Napoleon Hill’s 1937 classic, Think and Grow Rich. Check out my book reviews at the end of this post!

During her presentation, she discussed the influence of women over making purchasing decisions.  In fact, …

Women account for 47% of all workers in the United States.

90% of women identify themselves as the principle household shopper.

Women make 62% of all car purchases.

1 in 5 home buyers is a single woman in the United States and single women have contributed more than 1/3 of the growth in real estate ownership since 1994.

And women control about 60% of all personal wealth in the United States.  Globally women control 30% of personal wealth—the rate at which women are increasing wealth is outpacing the rate at which men are increasing wealth. 

This brings up the question, if the overwhelming majority of women are the principle shoppers for their household, making the majority of car purchases, and increasingly likely to purchase a home without a man’s stamp of approval or his money, why aren’t more companies changing the way they do business by hiring more women in their salesforce and adopting sales strategies that focus on getting the approval of the female decision-maker?

In her presentation, Sharon also talked about how most sales training was geared towards men.  You know the whole, “if you don’t sell, you suck” philosophy.  While it might be true, it just doesn’t have the same motivational response with women that it does with men.  Hummm … wonder why?!

There are typically 7 steps in the traditional sales process including:

  1. Prospecting for leads
  2. Setting an appointment
  3. Qualifying the prospect
  4. Making a presentation
  5. Addressing the prospect’s objections
  6. Closing the sale
  7. Asking for referrals from the prospect

Unfortunately, this process is too limiting for today’s retail climate because it creates an environment where the salesperson is primarily focused on maintaining control over or even manipulating the buyer’s decision.  The salesperson creates the need and then tries to get the buyer to purchase.  In traditional sales, it is also assumed that all buyers are on the same path to making a final purchasing decision—in today’s marketplace, there is no one path to closing the sale.

The concept of serving, however, involves a completely different process and philosophy to execute—this is a more client-oriented approach that includes extensive discovery and discussion.  When serving clients, the process looks more like this:

  1. Identifying a prospect
  2. Allowing the prospect to experience value
  3. Building rapport and explaining value
  4. Determining whether your product/service is the right solution for the prospect
  5. Offering the prospect the right value for his or her needs
  6. Gaining trust to complete the purchase
  7. Building a lasting client relationship

When a business focuses on serving its clients, there is no control or manipulation of the buyer.  The business and the buyer have to work with each other throughout steps 2-5 to determine if a purchase is made.

Completion of the sale is only possible if the business has done 3 things:

  1. Shown value to the buyer
  2. Determined that there is a fit with both the business and buyer
  3. Trust has been established

The advantage of focusing on serving rather than selling to build a business is that you’re ultimately building long-term, lasting relationships rather than one-off sales that might result in referrals.  By implementing a process of serving, you flip the traditional sales model on its head and instead of creating a need to buy, you are offering a solution that is valued for purchase.

I think you can see how a business built on serving would appeal to a woman consumer—and even a male consumer!  But what’s really interesting is that a process of serving is ideal for the woman salesperson to execute.  If working in an environment focused on serving, women win—whether they’re selling or buying.  On Thursday, I’ll share with you “3 Reasons the Future of Sales Is Female and Why Your Business Should Care.”

Until then, stay on your toes!

In the meantime, check out the links to the books mentioned in this post.

Think and Grow Rich for Women ($12.20):  I really enjoyed hearing Sharon Lechter speak and her book was just as insightful.  When Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in 1937, he included 13 Steps to Success—but at that time all the major business minds and heads of companies were men.  Sharon goes through each of the 13 Steps and applies them to the lives of modern women.  I love her concept of living “one big life” instead of trying to find the elusive “work-life balance” that never quite seems attainable.  A must-read!

Think and Grow Rich ($15.25):  While you might be tempted to skip this book and just read the newer, more women-focused Think and Grow Rich for Women, you’d really miss out.  This is a classic business book that almost every successful business mind has read.  I think it really emphasizes the point that the fundamentals are long-lasting and always the first place to start when looking to build or grow any business—whether it was back in 1937 or at the present in 2017.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad ($7.99): I actually haven’t read this yet—it’s on my list!

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