I just had a few minutes free time and skimmed Clubhouse to see if there was a discussion I might listen to. I stumble on one entitled “Selling Without Feeling ‘Salesy’” I didn’t listen to it, but it struck a nerve.

We hear that all the time, expressed both by sellers and buyers. (As a side note, we never hear buyers of being too “Buyersy.”)

The salesy terminology conjures up the worst images, including the sleazy manipulative stereotypes portrayed in movies like the Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room, Glengarry Glenross, Wall Street, or Cadillac Man. We immediately think of sales people who develop relationships, not because they value the relationship, but they can manipulate the individual to get a sale. That back slapping, joke telling person feigning interest, just to get some of your money. We think of all the slimy techniques–methods of qualifying or manipulating a person, questioning/objection handling/closing techniques. People focused not on the value they create with the customer but only on the commissions they will get from the PO (Hmm, am I starting to hit close to home?)

Buyers and sellers alike detest the classic stereotypes. We laugh at them, congratulating ourselves that we are above these techniques.

But now we look at buyer analysis and their attitudes of sales people. They have an evolving definition of being too salesy. Some of things include:

  • Not understanding our business, problems, opportunities.
  • Focused only on their products, yet not knowing the products and how they help the customers.
  • Wasting buyer time, creating no value.
  • Being more focused on closing the order than customer success.

We see customers preferring other channels of buying, preferring to minimize the involvement of sales people. The whole concept of the digital buying journey dominates their buying preference.

Somehow the buyers think sales people—while not demonstrating the sleazy behaviors we see in the movies—they are still too salesy, not being helpful to customers. Their focus is still about their products and getting the PO. They don’t understand the customer.

So how do we achieve our own goals, without being too salesy?

I think it’s the recognition that the only way we sell something is through helping the customer achieve their goal. If we focus our efforts on helping them understand what they want to achieve, how they can most effectively achieve it, or how they can achieve success, if we make it all about them; we can also achieve our goals.

If we genuinely care for the customer we build relationships that are deeper than a PO.

Some of you may think, “But we still have to accomplish our goals, I don’t want to waste my time.” But if we are focused on the right opportunities. If we focus on our ICPs and customers who need and want our help, our interests are aligned. It’s when we get out of that, focusing on the wrong opportunities or trying to convince a customer that has no need or doesn’t want our help, then we become “salesy,” at least from the customer point of view.

Regardless of how we sell, if our highest priority is getting the order when we need the order, when when our goals and interest supercede the customers, then we become too salesy.

Are you salesy or are you creating differentiated value with your customers?