HERE IS a scenario you are probably familiar with if you are in sales:

The marketplace is competitive. You need to meet your targets. Time is running out. Desperation is in the air. The buyer is not that keen. You know you need to differentiate, but the similarities are too obvious to hide.

You pitch passionately. It does not seem to work. The buyer tells you he is going to buy from someone else. Once again, you are left facing that all-too-familiar sinking feeling and you hate it. You wonder what strategic sales approach will make a difference.

After years of working with, coaching and learning from the top sales professionals around the world, I have compiled a list of selling “don’ts” or principles that will help you to benefit from the art of selling without selling.

Don’t sell ice to the Eskimos

Make people buy things they need. You can create desire by being compelling, you can seduce people to your point of view and you can even exhibit your undying passion for your product or service. But a true sales professional is one who discovers a customer’s needs and fulfils it.

Do this for your customers and you will surely create a sales pipeline that keeps rewarding you past the first interaction with them.

Don’t make an elephant climb a wall

Buyer’s remorse is painful to deal with. If you have convinced your buyer to buy above what he can afford, it is like getting an elephant to climb a wall — it is not natural and even if it does get up the wall, it is going to come crashing down hard on you.

I know of numerous sales professionals who close sales, whether in “small money” consumer environments or “million-dollar” business environments, only for the buyers to come back and demand a recourse or, worse, take legal action.

Don’t fall into this trap; the euphoria of making the sale will not be worth the gloom of the sales recovery that follows.

Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle

When a woman wants a dress, she does not buy it because it looks good on the mannequin or even because it looks good on her. She buys it because she envisions the impact she will make wearing that dress, either at work or a party. Find the benefit and sell that. This is what in the sales profession we call “selling the sizzle”. Focus on this and not on selling the steak.

Don’t just sell on emotion or logic alone

There are sales staff who sell purely on emotion and there are those that sell only on logic. These are practical sellers; they convey the hard facts, are happy to deal with the figures and will work out the return on investment for you. To be a top professional, you need to learn how to incorporate both selling styles.

Don’t be a hit and run artist

You often find yourself in a hurry to close the deal. And who can fault you when you have targets to meet and deadlines to beat? But rushing is not the hallmark of great sales professionals and is not conducive to selling without selling.

To sell without selling, you need to take the time to engage people in a dialogue, a two-way communication in which both parties take turns to listen. A major key to selling without selling is to build relationships.

Relationships are built on a foundation of trust, which is gained by listening and speaking with genuine sincerity. Unfortunately, this takes time, which “hit and run” salesmen don’t want to invest in.

Don’t sell the way your competitors do

The “same-old” can never lead to the “different-new”.

There is terminal normality in the marketplace.

Organisations are selling similar products at similar price points, hiring similar people with similar backgrounds who think similarly, sell similarly and have similar branding, marketing and sales strategies.

Selling without selling requires the customer to feel the difference without you having to sell the difference. Think about that long and hard and see what you can come up with to differentiate yourself.

Don’t sell like a prophet

A doomsday prophet and an overzealous priest are not great role models for salesmen who want to build lasting relationships which will allow them to subsequently sell without selling.

Don’t pressure sell, nobody likes it. Don’t artificially create time frames if they truly don’t exist. Don’t create doomsday scenarios or induce fear.

And don’t overstate the truth. These are typical things salesmen have been taught that make them sell like soothsayers. Just be genuine and truthful.

Eliminate the “don’ts” and you will be left with the “do’s”. This approach will go a long way to building great relationships.

It will allow you to sell without selling when other people are desperately attempting to “sell”.