Complete the sentence, “The purpose of selling is to…….”

When I ask sales people and managers that question, the responses vary but generally fit into one of the categories below:

…to make my/our numbers.

…to sell our company’s solutions and products.

…to achieve our revenue and growth goals.

…to grow our company.

Those are all outcomes of being successful in selling, but what’s absent in each of those perspectives?

It’s pretty easy to recognize, it’s the customer. All the responses are very self-centered, focused on what we want to achieve.

We take it for granted, but without a customer, we can’t sell. Until a customer buys, we can never achieve any of the outcomes outlined above.

Turn the question around, put yourself in a customer’s shoes, finish the sentence, “The purpose of buying is to ……”

…help us address and solve a problem.

…help us address opportunities we’ve not been able to address in the past.

…help us become more efficient and reduce operational expense.

…help us better serve our customers and address their needs/requirements.

…help us improve our quality.

Our customers are buying, not just to buy but to achieve something.

At this point, I’m probably eliciting a yawn, or a reaction something like, “What’s the point, Dave?”

The point is not earthshaking, but it’s really about the disconnect in perspectives, purpose, and objectives between sellers and buyers. Until we resolve this disconnect, we sales people will always struggle to achieve our goals. We need to be completing the sentence, The purpose of selling is to help our customers address and solve problems. The purpose of selling is to help our customers address opportunities they’ve not been able to address in the past. You can figure out the rest.

Selling requires buying (Duugghhhh). But if our focus is on what we achieve, then we have lost that vital partner that enables us to achieve our goals–so we can never reach them.

As simplistic as this seems, it transforms the relationship we have with customers, It transforms who we engage, how we engage, and what we achieve through them.

First, it forces us to focus on customers who have problems we can solve. Spending time with anyone else is a waste of both their and our time.

Second, it forces us to focus on customers who have a recognized need to change and do something. If they don’t have a compelling need to change, they have no reason to buy. Often our role is to create and get them to recognize that compelling need to change. We may do that through providing insight, talking about what others in the industry are doing, helping them understand and recognize they must address certain issues to achieve their goals.

We make selling far too difficult buy focusing only on selling. Frankly, I’m too lazy to do that—it’s too much work. It’s so much easier if we recognize the buyer, helping them achieve what they want to do.

Take a moment, reflect on your immediate response to the challenge to complete the sentence, “The purpose of selling is to…..”

If your response didn’t have the words, “help my customer….” then you will always struggle to achieve your goals.

Figure out what you need to do to embrace the customer and what they want to achieve. Things get much easier.