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The most successful sales professionals always focus on the needs of their customer. This puts them at the center of attention. When they feel valued for the information they share and you work to craft the right solution at the right time, they don’t feel pressured but instead, curious to find out more about you and your solution.


You’ve heard it many times- customers hate to be sold, but they love to buy. Why is that? Think about it, don’t you despise people telling you what to do or giving you their opinion on what they think you should do?  Are you happy or mad when a friend tells you what’s wrong with your golf swing and what adjustments to make? Are they such an expert that there recommendation will hold water? Customers are constantly being swamped by sales people pitching them “the right solution” for their company. Each sale representative is saying the same thing: you should go with us because……. is that really what the customer wants to hear?

Let’s look at 3 reasons why customers hate to be sold.

#1 – They’re tired of being told!  Decision makers are more open to a sales person who asks questions about their needs rather than telling them what they need to do?  Yet, surprisingly most sales professionals ask just one or two questions waiting for the first opportunity to go into present mode! REAL needs – the ones that are attached to the biggest budgets – aren’t close to being fully understood.  The customer’s true issues aren’t evident, yet the sales person goes into tell mode or as we experienced in 3rd grade, “show and tell”. Telling is the same as convincing which is just another synonym for selling. What customers prefer is the advice of an expert consultant that asks pertinent questions about their business.

#2 – They’ve lost their place as the center of attention-you have taken their place. Customers want to talk about their goals, aspirations, the future and their own personal goals. When you present prematurely, the focus and priority is no longer on the customer but on your need to talk about their solution. The right time to present the solution is when the customer asks for it and not before. The customer will ask you to talk about your solution when you have peaked their interest and they have a desire to hear what you have to offer and not a minute sooner.  Your job as a GREAT sales professional is to build curiosity in the mind of the customer so that they want to hear more. That is why customers enjoy buying. They see the need for your solution and in their own mind they made the decision and feel good about it.

#3 – No one wants to be pressured. The last thing anyone needs today is more pressure. We live in a world that puts timeframes on everything. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – they already have enough pressure put on them from their own company to get things done, meet goals and objectives and of course meet every deadline.  Customers want to buy on their timeline not yours. Think of all the sales incentives that start with, if you make a decision by the end of this month, we will give you……. Incentives are attractive only when the customer is ready to make a decision. Would you buy a product or service for half price if you didn’t need it? Neither would I.

As you think about the ways to be a more effective sales professional, remember to ask – don’t tell OR sell.  Make inquiries and keep the focus on your customer.

The most successful sales professionals always focus on the needs of their customer. This puts them at the center of attention. When they feel valued for the information they share and you work to craft the right solution at the right time, they don’t feel pressured but instead, curious to find out more about you and your solution. Remember sales is all about building relationships and relationships are built by developing trust.  Avoiding typical selling and telling will help both you and your customers succeed.

About the author

Stu Schlackman

Stu Schlackman

Stu has spent over 25 years in sales management, sales and sales training with…

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