This Sales Gravy Podcast episode is part one of Jeb Blount’s (Virtual Selling) conversation with Diane Helbig (Succeed Without Selling) about why for business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals success in selling and business growth really isn’t about “selling.” Instead, when you focus on solving problems, that’s when the real magic happens.
Diane: The book is called Succeed Without Selling: The More You Think About Selling The Less You’ll Sell. I decided to write it because so many salespeople and small business owners are, in my estimation, behaving badly because they are so focused on selling that they’re not getting what they want. They’re not getting the results that they want and it’s frustrating.
And so I thought, this is what I teach when I do sales training. What if I could put it into a book and just tell them everything about sales mindset? You know, what happens when you do this, but what happens when you do that, with scripts and, and templates in the back of the book.
If I can just give them everything, hopefully, a bell will go off in their head and they’ll start doing things differently and achieve better results.
So Why Does Being Successful in Sales Have Nothing To Do With Selling?
Diane: When salespeople are selling, they are thinking about themselves. They’re thinking about the fact that they have to hit quota, that they have to get revenue, that they have to do all of these things. Their mindset is, “I need to convince you that you need what I have to sell. I have to be eloquent enough and say the right things. I have to be persuasive.”
They do it at networking events, they do it when they’re in a sales meeting, they do it all the time. And the truth is that when salespeople behave that way, they don’t get the sale because they’re not listening. They’re not matching what they have to what that person needs. They’re not hearing what the situation is.
So that’s why I say that it’s not about selling. It’s about solving, right? It’s about connecting and making sure that it’s a good fit because that’s how you get long-term business relationships that serve your business for decades.
Sales Is Not About Selling, It’s About Solving
Jeb: I totally agree with you. Not that long ago, I was doing training out in Oregon and one of the people in my class was an ex CIA agent. I was teaching some concepts out of Sales EQ around human influence frameworks.
And he grabbed me and said, “What’s the difference between what you’re teaching and what we were doing as CIA agents? Essentially, when we were bringing people in, we were using the same frameworks you’re teaching to get people to turn over information or rat out someone else. And I said, “The human brain works the way the human brain works.”
For example, if you listen to someone, it makes them like you more. It’s just how we operate. And if they like you more and you listen to them, they’re more likely to give you something because you made them feel good. I mean, that’s just basic influence frameworks, but what you said is exactly how I explained it to him.
I said, “In your line of work, you were using these influence frameworks to manipulate people into giving you what you wanted. And in my line of work, I help people, and I solve problems.”
“I’m Not The Right Fit For You”
Jeb: The very last thing I want to do is sell someone something, or do something for someone that they don’t want or don’t need. And that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t because I’m pretty good at influencing people and persuading people. I could certainly do that. I could go out and sell things to people that they didn’t need, but I never do that.
It’s a normal thing for me and my business to turn customers away and say, “We’re the wrong fit for you. You should not do this because you’re going to spend money with me and you’re not going to get the outcome that you desire.” And I’ve always led with that. And I believe that people know there’s sincerity in that. What’s so funny about it is when you tell them, “I’m the wrong fit for you,” they start trying to figure out how you can be a fit for them.
Diane: That is so true! Exactly. I had someone say to me, once I said, “Listen, I’m not the right resource for you.” She said, “Well, I sure hope you are because I trust you.” And I said, “Well, then you’re going to have to trust me when I tell you I am not the right resource for you.” It’s exactly what you say. And those people will refer you to people because you’re honest.
People Gravitate Towards Salespeople Who Don’t Sell
Jeb: Exactly right. You’re honest. There’s a local place where I live called C&C Tire, we only take our cars there because we trust Tommy and he’s honest. If he can’t fix it, he won’t say, “Yeah I can fix it.” And then you spend money with him. He’ll say this isn’t going to happen here, let me get you someone that can do that.
Or if you come in and say, “I need this fixed. Cause I think this is the problem.” He’ll say, “Nah, it’s a $2 part. You don’t have this problem.” And he’s always been that way. If you look at his business, there are people waiting in line to get him to work on their cars because he’s not trying to sell you something that you don’t need.
Diane: And because we are so used to mechanics selling us things we don’t need that, he’s a gem, right? So the salespeople who don’t sell are the ones that people gravitate toward because they know they’re going to be told the truth. It’s a total integrity thing.
And I’ll add something to what you were talking about, which is when you convince somebody they need what you have, it’s a really bad relationship. And neither of you like it. So why would you do it? You’re going to end up spending time with someone that it’s just difficult all the time.
The Gangrene of Business Relationships
Jeb: If I sell you something that you don’t need and you realize that I did that, then you resent me. Maybe you’re a small business. I’ve been in this position before where I needed a sale or I needed to get a deal done.
I would lower my price, or add on services in order to convince someone that I could help to do business with me. But down the road, as my business grew, I started resenting that customer because I felt like they were taking advantage of me.
Resentment leads to contempt, which is the gangrene of business relationships. It will rot them out at the core until there’s a point where you cannot save the relationship. There won’t be any referrals, you don’t like each other, and it almost always ends badly.
So when your focus is on solving rather than selling, you only solve problems you can solve. You solve the problems you can solve at a price point that allows you to provide the service that the person is expecting you to deliver down the road, post-sale.
About the author
Jeb Blount is one of the most sought-after and transformative speakers in the world…