‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …’

In 1859 when Charles Dickens wrote these twelve immortal words to open his classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities, he could just as easily have been referring to SELLING. Why? Because selling can be best or the worst depending on how we execute it.

It is the best of times when we reach out to people who need what we are selling, but the worst of times when we thrust ourselves upon those who don’t. Selling has traditionally chosen the latter. But how do we know when people need what we are selling? If we wait for them to reach out to us first we could miss out on selling opportunities. And if buyers remain unaware of the amazing options our products or services present, they will not be able to make the most informed buying decisions. So … what is a salesperson to do????

Reach out gently, gradually but consistently. Test the waters. Ask questions. Listen for those subtle messages that indicate interest or disinterest. There is an old, misguided sales adage out there salespeople and their bosses  still believe; it goes like this: Selling starts when the customer says ‘NO’. REALLY ? !!!! Ask Harvey Weinstein how that eventually worked out for him.

Selling well is a much more delicate dance than we have been led to believe. We can barge in like bulls in a china shop and damn the collateral damage, as most salespeople are expected to do. Or we can respectfully introduce, carefully watch and listen, and intuitively assess what we hear and see. We can back off when the time is wrong (the worst of times), but be ready to guide and advise when the time is right.

Selling is gradually evolving from crude to refined.


Peter Skakum