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People Like to Buy, but Not to Be Sold

I was at a networking event the other day and met someone who immediately launched into a product spiel. How many people do you suppose go to events looking to buy? None would be my answer. He is not alone in thinking that selling is about pushing.

Ever tried selling something to someone who didn’t want to buy? Even the best sales people are challenged in this scenario. Compare that situation to the ease of selling when the buyer wants to buy….much easier. People don’t like to be sold to, but they do enjoy buying.

This simple truth confronts many traditional sales techniques that rely on gimmicks and closing sequences to “trick” the buyer into buying something they really don’t want. Practitioners of these product-push techniques still abound in abundance. They’re the ones who think that you will buy once you hear about their product. They are selling, but I’m not buying. Their motives are solely focused on making a sale and not on adding value to the prospective buyer (require seller understand buyer’s needs).

Replace the product push technique with one based on problem solving…one that seeks to understand how you can add value to help your prospective buyer solve a problem. Though simple sounding, this approach requires a completely different approach to sales – asking questions and listening vs. telling. You must ask quality questions focused on understanding the challenges faced by the other person and the impact those challenges have on her business.

Your prospective customer will engage with you if you are genuinely interested in assessing how you can help the other person. Trying to pass-off sincerity when you don’t really care quickly becomes apparent to the prospective buyer, and they will stop listening and won’t buy.

So if asking questions is key, what types of questions are best to ask? Eighty percent of the buying motive is based on emotion with the remaining 20% being on logic. I recently bought a suit not primarily because of the material or the color but because it felt good when I tried it on.

It has been estimated that 35% of Americans are primarily left-brainers – they are logic oriented.  But as we’ve said most of the buying motive is built on emotions. So for many of us selling to people’s emotions is a challenge; it requires that we expand our comfort zone. For example, I used to enjoy digging into the details of a prospective client’s account receivables rather than querying on the impact the raising receivables was having on the business and the employees.

Ask questions such as:

  •   “How is that impacting the performance of your business?”
  •   “How does that impact you personally?”
  •   “How do you feel about that?”

These are great questions to get at your prospective customer’s emotions.

SO, stop pushing product and recognize that to sell becomes so much easier when you understand the challenges faced by your prospective customer. Get to know them and their issues.


Jeff Lovejoy




  1. May 13, 2015 at 3:04 am

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  2. May 21, 2015 at 4:21 am

    Awesome post.

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