Why Helping Comes Before Selling


Readers have asked me for more advice on how to kick-start the buying process. The later you arrive in the customer’s buying process, the lesser your chances of winning their business are. It makes sense to focus on exploring more ways of getting in early or even kick-start the buying process. Sure, leading with insights will help you to get there. But what if you have not found relevant insights, as some of you have pointed out? How can you still drive a conversation interesting enough for your prospect to trigger a desire to start a buying process? The answer is something unexpected:

It is having a mindset and a passion for helping. Take your sales cap off and put your “I want to help-cap” on.

My dad, who had been in Sales his whole life, once said to me, “Helping others will, in the end, help you.” Think about this from the Buyer’s Perspective. Wouldn’t you rather talk to a person with that mindset, instead of a salesperson? What is the customer experience when a person is constantly digging for dissatisfaction, and looking for pain points? A helping mindset will get you much further. In that way, you drive an interesting conversation for the prospect. Your focus should be on:

  • Helping them move their business forward
  • Helping them produce better results
  • Helping with clarifying goals and challenges
  • Helping with understanding progress
  • Helping with identifying risks
  • Helping with exploring new opportunities
  • Helping through sharing stories
  • Helping by sharing ideas and trends
  • Helping with missing information
  • Helping with a business case for change
  • Helping with understanding the ROI
  • Helping to discover something about themselves – something they were not aware of

These types of conversations swing you into the right-hand side of the buying clock, a phase where your prospect wonders if they have the right solution in place to achieve their goals. When customers are in their status quo, it doesn’t mean they do not have problems or challenges. Often they want to avoid the internal conflict that would accompany a drastic change, like changing their main supplier. They prefer a fix over a change. But what if they do not really understand the negative consequences of not changing?

Before you start selling, you have to create a problem worth solving. Help your prospect understand why they are not getting the results they are looking for. By doing so, you move your prospect’s problems and challenges forward in time. And these are worthwhile discussing. Many companies wait too long to make necessary changes, in particular when this involves their major suppliers. Demonstrate the negative impact of doing nothing. Observe your contact’s reaction. Are they interested enough to let go of their status quo and kick-start the buying process internally? Your helping mindset makes them more comfortable with exploring change. From their perspective, exploring change is like a free trial. You help them consider what a future could look like.

Actually, being on the right-hand side of the buying clock is more rewarding if you think about it. You are helping business people move their business forward. The customers you recently gained do not refer to you as a Trusted Advisor because you are such a great salesperson. You earned that description because you helped them with improving their business. Helping definitely comes before selling.

Thank you for your Likes. Managers: discuss this post with your teams and see how you can help them.

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