Bill Gates, Sr. in his memoir, Showing Up for Life, said that “in certain traditionally Zulu parts of South Africa, when two people greet each other the first one uses words that mean ‘I see you.’” (p. 155) He goes on to say “That greeting is a powerful statement about how much being recognized and encouraged by others in our lives has to do with the kind of people we become. It also drives home the role community plays in all our lives.” (p. 156)
I was reminded of Gate’s statement when I listened to Judith & Jim last night on their second free preview call for their upcoming Bridging Heart & Marketing III virtual conference. They talked about how the soft sell marketer sees the prospect as a person in the relationship first and as a customer second. Hard sell marketers instead focus first on making the sale.
More and more people around the world, but especially in America, are getting tired of the hype and of being seen as a walking wallet. Maybe it’s a reaction to the impersonal nature of so many Internet discounters, retail “big box” stores and warehouse stores. Maybe it’s just an outgrowth of the overwhelming number of choices we have available to us today. Whatever the cause, people want to be recognized for their humanity first. They want someone who cares about their needs, someone who listens to them before trying to close the sale.
This is where soft sell salespeople and marketers excel. The whole premise behind soft sell and heart-based marketing is on the relationship. As Judith & Jim say, “It’s all in the connection.” While they focus mostly on caregivers and change agents, my experience runs to business-to-business sales.
Some of the most satisfying sales experiences I’ve had were when customers realized that I really did want to co-create the solution they needed. When the adversarial expectation disappeared, we became partners in scripting a plan that provided what they wanted.
Charles H. Green in his book Trust-based Selling describes a similar approach to business sales. As he says in his August 28th Trust Matters blog post, “The paradox is: if you’re willing to help people and not turn every interaction into a “closing moment,” ironically people become more willing to buy from you. It’s not a trick, it’s not a gimmick: people genuinely prefer to deal with people who behave generously toward them.”
Remember, the traditional Zulu greeting, “I see you,” demonstrates an important message for all sales and marketing people: the soft sell approach of recognizing prospects as people first and customers second enables you to develop relationships in which they get to know, like and trust you., allowing you to co-create their solution. That’s the best foundation I can think of for creating long-term customer relations. As you help customers buy – what they want and need when they want it and need it, you will find selling is fun, fulfilling, and mutually rewarding.
If you want help applying these concepts to your business, please contact me through my website for Aberle Consulting.
My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. https://amzn.to/2BaP2AH I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.
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