I want to share a story with you all that I think will feel all too familiar.

I was browsing for a mobile phone last week in a small store full of new models and devices.

The salesman, a guy with a big smile on his face and a bright red shirt, approached me and asked if I needed any help. I politely declined so I could browse a little but the salesman, in his effort to push a sale, wouldn’t leave me alone.

He kept offering suggestions and pointing out new models that might interest me. In the end, I left without making a purchase.

That’s the mistake too many business owners are making.

They are trying to sell. Instead of serve.

The difference between selling and serving

You’re browsing your favourite aisle in your favourite store.

Then you hear it…

  • “Can I help you?”
  • “Would you like to look at a more premium product?”
  • “I think you’ll love this product instead.

Is there anything you hate more than feeling like a product is being shoved down your throat by an army of heavy-handed marketers?

Or, have you found yourself so turned off by aggressive selling tactics that you cancel a purchase you were 99% ready to make?

As marketers or business owners, this is the feeling you want to avoid stirring in your audience.

The last thing you want is for your potential customers to feel like you are going to hunt them down, pin them to the floor and force a sale on them.

So, how do you continue to meet the goals of your business without pushing potential customer away?

Shift the focus from selling, to serving.

The difference between selling and serving is that the former is transactional, and the latter is personal.

Consumers in 2019 are more savvy then they’ve ever been. They will Google reviews of your business, price-match against your competitors, and looking for free trials before they commit to any deal. That makes the hard sell officially dead.

Instead, it should be your goal to serve your customers and build a brand driven by value. What can you do to make their buying decision easier? To make their life easier?

Here are some simple ways for you to move your focus from selling to serving:

  • Tie your products and services to a larger mission: Does your company make sustainable products that benefit the environment? Including a mission-driven backing to your brand will help drive engagement.
  • Be honest and transparent: Consumers can spot jargon a mile away. Be direct with your customers. Tell them what to expect, what it will cost, and avoid any form of trickery.
  • Change your mindset: Focusing on sales alone will make it hard to see any other value in your sales process. Changing sales habits can start with something as little as changing the name of your team from ‘sales team’ to ‘customer growth managers’ can help kick-start a fresh perspective.
  • Adopt a long-term approach: Short-term goals are often driven by quick sales. Long-term goals are fuelled by authentic relationships and the desire to truly understand how you can help your customers, not how they can help you.

While it may not end in a sale straight away, if you can make customers feel like they are valuable to you beyond a sale, you can then establish a level of trust.

These feelings of trust earn you the right to show your customers how you can add further value to their life. And when it is 5-25x more expensive to sell to a new customer than to an existing customer, creating a loyal and engaged customer base brings the financial benefits that you wanted in the first place.

This approach is incredibly effective in securing brand loyalty and pays off significantly in the long-term.

It’s time to turn your sales pitch into a serving process

This relationship-based businesses model – putting in the groundwork and building a relationship with consumers before trying to sell to them, is particularly successful in the digital age in which two-way communication between businesses and customer has become a priority.

When your approach changes from trying to improve your bottom line to trying to improve your customer’s life, everyone wins.


Serve first. Sell second.

When you establish trust, develop an authentic connection, and take the time to put your customer’s needs first, you’ll benefit in the long run.