Monday, November 16, 2009

Define: Selling

from an email:

A Definition of Selling

How do you define selling? Is your definition based on probing, presenting features, establishing rapport, closing, or commissions?

What you need to change is your paradigm of the selling model. Think about what selling accomplishes for a customer. First, they either have a change in the cost to do business and/or the service they receive. Second, a sale fills a void as perceived or defined by the customer. What is the textbook definition of selling? If you look up the word "selling" in a dictionary what would you find? One definition is "To give up in return for something else"; another, "To exchange or deliver for money or its equivalent." If selling is neither of these, then what is it? I submit to you this definition of selling: "Selling is the process of helping someone discover something of value."

First, selling is a process with defined steps that build on each other. Like exercise, every time you skip a step it reduces the possibility of a positive outcome. A weightlifter can only bench press the big weight so long without practice before they are lifting less and less weight. Selling is the act of proactively engaging in the process. Selling involves methodically executing each step in a methodical way for every sales process. Taking short cuts or eliminating steps only sets the salesperson up for future failure.

Next, selling is a process of discovery. If the prospects don't discover "it" for themselves then they typically don't have personal ownership. When a salesperson "tells," the probability of a buying decision is greatly diminished. Parents quickly learn this with their children. If a child doesn't have a "skin in the game," they will not manage and take care of whatever the parent has provided. Prospects are no different. They need to have ownership in the sales process.

Helping a prospect requires asking questions (probing) that reveal their needs. Most prospects didn't go to school for sales so it is highly unlikely they will be able to tell you their needs. In fact, most prospects will ask the last question first, "How many dollars will this cost me?" In most cases, you can help them by asking questions that cause them to think through their process and identify their needs. That's when real buy-in occurs.

Finally, selling is revealing something of value. Listen to your presentation and objection-handling words and sentences. Do you know the difference between a feature statement and a value statement? People don't buy features, they buy value. They must define the value for themselves and not have you define it for them. Your responsibility is to guide them along the path of discovery.

Source: Sales consultant Tony Horwath, President/Founder of Sales Focus, Inc. (

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