What Is the Secret to Selling?


Online you'll find plenty of sales advice, but I think often times we are missing what's really important. I’m going to simply speak my mind on what I believe selling is all about, particularly when it comes to a service, or a consultative sale.

The Ultimate Sales Secret

I started my career as an operating guy. I had a business partner early on who was a brilliant strategist, a big picture guy who also was responsible for revenue. So that made me responsible for everything else, and that meant operations, logistics, whatever it took to execute on the plan and manage cash.

It’s not about you, or making the sale. It’s about the other guy.

I was a very capable operating executive who cared about his people, was able to recruit talent and essentially stayed out of everyone’s way. I was also fairly organized, which of course was expected, but what I found out later was that I was operating under my adaptive management/behavior style, not my natural one. Anyway, the approach served me well as I was able to scale the operations of venture-backed startup companies, which helped secure liquidity events for two of them.

Through the approach of truly caring about all of the people I was responsible for, I discovered over the years as CEO of various startups that the caring approach — or as I like to describe it today, the serving approach — is actually what I believe to be the secret to sales. Yes, of course you can learn many sales skills, presentation, verbal pitching, closing, but those are all secondary in my mind. What really matters in sales is if you really care about the client prospect and solving their problems. In other words, it’s not about you, or making the sale. It’s about the other guy. All of this means putting yourself in a place where you don’t focus on making the sale. Instead, you are there to understand the client’s issues, be a good listener and make an honest effort to solve their problem, whether it means your service or product is the solution or not.

Serving Instead of Selling

I’m a devout Catholic, and thus I believe that I have been called to serve others. Years ago I committed to trying to live my faith through my work life, and through an epiphany realized that it was actually this service-driven approach that made for a heck of an effective business development strategy.

When you’re out selling, you need to fight the urge to sell at all.

So, it’s no more complicated than that. When you’re out selling, you need to fight the urge to sell at all. Be a resource to the client prospects, take advantage of the face-time to give them as much free advice as you can. Refer them to third parties that may be able to help with their problems. Do all of it unselfishly. It’s counter-intuitive for those who have been raised in the traditional sales model, but if you have the courage to see it through, I believe, like me, you will not only take great satisfaction in the approach, but you will excel at closing business.

Finally, let me give credit where credit is due. Although I had an intuitive sense that this was the right approach, it was the leaders and Principals at OneAccord who confirmed it, because this is precisely the way we approach our business development. Thanks guys.

Is this approach something you have tried directly or indirectly? Have you found it to be effective for you or your sales staff?

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Published: 04/24/2018

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