Question: How do you make selling benefit the other guy as much as it benefits you?

I'm asking for a friend.

Actually, I'm asking because I had an experience yesterday that brought the whole concept of "selling" into sharp focus for me, and I learned something from it that I think is good to share. Because I think a lot of us have "selling" all wrong.

I don't want to go into too many details about this experience, because I think that the person I spoke to does have good intentions. But the short version is that I did a consultation yesterday as part of my "sharpen the saw" efforts. I need consulting myself sometimes, with people who can give me a fresh perspective and new ideas I can apply to help the people I consult with. I got that out of this call, but not directly. I had to come to it on my own after walking away feeling low and pretty awful.

The thing that tipped the balance for me was that, first, this was a "free consultation" with someone I've followed for a short time now. This person has a business built around a ministry of sorts. I liked the idea of someone approaching marketing and authority building from a Christian perspective. You don't see that often. So despite some occasional feelings of hinkiness beforehand, I attended a webinar and then did the follow-up consult.

Things went well enough as this person asked about the goods and bads of my business. They complimented me on what I've built so far, and gave me some genuine advice that, though I'd heard it before, did serve to reinforce what I'm doing.

And then the pitch started.

I understand sales. Marketing and sales enjoy a sort of symbiotic relationship, and I've experienced both sides of the art of selling in my career. I'm a pretty good salesman, actually. Mostly because I only "sell" something if I believe in it, and can speak to its value personally. 

What I've never enjoyed, and try to avoid, is the "hard sell." This is when someone puts you in a corner, gives you a "yes or no" proposition, and won't let you walk away from the call or the meeting until you've committed one way or the other. There's the implication that saying "no" means you're not committed, or maybe not even worthy. Your sense of self worth is on the line with that one decision. 

You might be asked, "What would it take for you to say yes to this opportunity right now? What would it take to get past your objections? How much is your business worth to you? Is it worth making a commitment of $X in order to accomplish your goals?"

You see what's happening here, right? You're being asked to think about the yes. You're asked to commit, or forfeit this opportunity. Which, it's implied, is the opportunity to have what you want, if only you're committed enough to say yes. There's the implication that saying "no" means you are not committed, you will not succeed, you do not have what it takes.

I know this type of close. I've experienced it before, many times. This is something teachable—in sales training you are taught to think this way, to frame the conversation this way, to own the conversation and keep the prospect thinking about that yes, about what they want, and about the regret they'd feel if they don't say yes right now.

Objections that you have to talk to your spouse before you can commit that kind of money get met with statements such as, "If your life depended on raising that money right now, would you be able to do it?" 

In fact, any objection you could normally think of has already been accounted for and answered, in advance. The closer has everything in his or her head, waiting to draw on their ready answers to your predictable objections. Predictable, because they're common sense. Of course you would need time to think over a major purchase, to talk to your spouse first, to determine if this is a good fit for you and your business. Knowing that common sense will bring these questions into play, the closer can have counter statements ready to disrupt your thinking and pile on the pressure.

And then there's the leverage of regret and self doubt. You'll get comments such as, "I don't think you're a good fit for this right now, i don't think you're committed enough to your own success." Which forces you to defend yourself. "I'm a good fit! I'm good enough! I am committed!  I can do this!" You feel the anxiety of that, because in that moment you actually believe that there's an opportunity right in front of you that will disappear if you don't take it. You'll never see this again. You'll miss out on ...

Well, the language of the whole conversation has been about your goals and desires and wants. You're talking to this person about your level of commitment. This is, on its surface, a conversation about you and your dreams and your goals. So what feels like it's on the table, what you're about to lose, is the opportunity to do something good for your life. 

But that isn't actually the conversation you're having.

The real conversation is about the sell. The offer. This is a conversation about closing the deal. The person you're talking to has something to sell, and they want you to commit right now—of course they do—to giving them money, to signing up for their program, to buying their product. 

I should say this right now, to clear up any possible confusion: Selling is not wrong. It's not evil. It's necessary. We do it all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.

I'm selling to you right now, actually—asking you to buy in on my philosophy and my expertise and my authority. I want you to connect with me, agree with me, and come to me when you want to know or do more. I've mentioned a few times now that I'm a consultant, that I work with people building authority businesses, that I have books and programs and products for sale. This whole blog is a sales tool, at least in part.

So what's the key difference here?

For starters—and you'll have to decide for yourself if this is true—but my goal is to provide you with as much benefit, if not more, as I get out of this relationship. I want you to grow as an authority. I want you to be an amazing copywriter or a fantastic speaker or a brilliant author or an inspirational consultant or coach. I want to provide you with the tools and resources you need to be that, even as I learn more about it all myself. 

For this other tactic—the hard sell—can any of the above really apply? 

it's possible. The seller could actually have your best interest at heart, and has chosen this method because they really can't stand the thought of you not getting this information or this product or this help .They could be desperate to help you. 

But I think that's unlikely. 

There are some red flags in my conversation from yesterday that, now, I see I should have spotted immediately. I did, in some fashion, because I was thinking about these things during the conversation, while feeling the angst and anxiety and while saying "no." 

First, there's the immediacy. 

Big financial decisions should never be instant decisions. Of course, "big financial decisions" is a subjective term. For most people, spending $50K all at once is huge. For Donald Trump, maybe not so much. But if you're being asked to make a decision about something that could cause you some financial hardship, and you're told the offer goes away if you don't say yes right this minute, then I have some strong advice:

The answer is no.

You are, by far, much safer keeping your money than giving it away without the time to consider the pros and cons. This seems obvious now, in the comfort of wherever you're reading this, but in the moment of the hard sell, it's going to be confusing and difficult to focus. So just remember it as simply as possible: If you are asked to commit significant finances to something, but you must say yes right now, then the answer is always and emphatically "no."

You are not a coward. You are not a failure. You do not lack commitment to your goals or dreams. You are making a wise decision rather than a foolish one.

Second, there's your spouse (or anyone you care about).

Most of us have at least one person we're accountable to, in some way. We have responsibilities beyond ourselves. We have wives and husbands, children, parents. Making a huge financial decision on a whim can cause pain for those we care about as well as ourselves. 

So if you say, "I have to talk to my spouse about this," and there is any resistance at all, the answer is "no."

Again, in the moment, you're going to feel pressured and uncertain. You're going to worry that you're making a mistake, choosing to play it safe out of fear. in fact, if you make a decision without consulting the person who shares in your responsibilities, you are actually being irresponsible, and that's a sign you shouldn't make this decision at all.

So the short version: If you say you have to talk to your spouse, and they push you to decide now anyway, the answer is always and emphatically "no."

Are you making a mistake? Will you regret it?

Not likely. 

If this person really does have your best interest in mind, then the deal is never fully closed. They'll be there for you when you're ready. If this particular opportunity is time sensitive, so be it. Another will come around. You can show your interest in being a part of the next thing, and if they really care about you they'll accept that and keep you in mind.

So no, the reality is you'll only regret this if you're framing it as a "missed opportunity." If, however, you frame it for what it is, you'll come out better for the experience. And what it is comes down to this:

You are a responsible person, capable of making wise decisions. You do not need to commit to any deal that has to have an answer "now or never." Choose never, and go on to the next, better opportunity. 

So, how do you make selling benefit the other guy as much as it benefits you?

You're in business now. You will have to do some selling. So tell me, either in comments or (better yet) by calling 281-809-WORD (9673) — how do you do selling so that it helps instead of hurts? 

Leave me your answers and I'll read or play them on air during my Wordslinger Podcast

I look forward to hearing your answers!

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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at


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