Selling is Serving: 4 Ways You Can Serve the Market through Selling

by Jason Ogden | Mar 28, 2017

Selling is serving. This is something that I’ve believed deep in my heart for quite a long time, but I understand it’s probably not the prevailing view.

In an attempt to persuade my team here at Syrup of this truth, I have an exercise that we go through. I start by asking team members to describe someone in the field of sales. Not surprisingly, these are the most common responses I receive:

  • Self-serving
  • Greedy or trying to take from me
  • Tricky or untrustworthy
  • Annoying
  • Oddly specific descriptions of salespeople as spouse’s, parents, and their relationship with pills and alcohol.

In summary, the perception of salespeople is not great, to say the least.

Sure, the above descriptors are true of some in the profession, but surely not all. Where’s the disconnect? The only conclusion I can make is that people haven’t been shown sales as a service enough to change their points of view on the profession in general.  

So how do we redefine sales as a service?   

  1. Go into every conversation with the spirit of helping, regardless of whether or not you earn the deal. You can serve prospects by helping them understand their problem better, by understanding the market and available solutions better, or by making an introduction to someone else.
  2. Challenge the prospect. As the gap between the market and the services offered becomes wider (i.e. the work is complex and the market doesn’t fully grasp it), there are more opportunities to challenge assumptions and expectations. This is the part that requires the most courage. As an advocate of the prospect, it’s your duty to help them think through and understand the issues and solutions on a deeper level.
  3. Understand whether or not this is a problem worth solving. This is simply aligning the issue with expected outcomes before signing any proposals. This helps you understand whether moving ahead makes sense for you and your client. I’d advise reading Habit 4 (Win-Win or No Deal) from 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you do this one thing, you’ll be serving the market through selling.
  4. Remember: the sale doesn’t stop at the close. If you’ve completed steps 1-3 above and delivered good work and service up to this point, it’s your duty to continue to serve the client by helping them understand new opportunities. You’re the expert, and this is where they need you to lead them.

Selling as a service is about the spirit of helping, the courage to challenge, the stewardship of measuring expectations in advance, and the idea of continuing to deliver services and expertise throughout your relationship with the client.

Again, selling is serving. If you don’t take this to heart, you’ll likely end up somewhere in the “not great” category I described above. So go serve somebody!

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 by Jason Ogden

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