Selling without ‘sales’

The conventional way to sell a product has been to make it well, advertise it and distribute it. Even in the absence of an excellent product, good advertising and distribution enough to sell a carbonated drink across the world for more than a century. In these businesses, the word ‘sales’ is an explicit and integral part of job titles.

But solutions work differently. Selling solutions through advertising cannot have the desired effect. Besides, the same solution would not serve the needs of different clients. How then do you build a market for solutions?

The answer is not to sell, but to listen. To meet a customer, look them in the eye and make a connection. The aim here is not to decode the meaning of their words, but to unearth where they are coming from. To relate to their problems and empathize. Professions that sell solutions – consulting and investment banking for example, are also the ones where the job titles of the people who sell (Partner, Director etc.) are completely free from the term ‘sales’.

These are also professions where selling happens at the top of the organization and not the bottom. It takes at least 10 years of training to learn to listen properly.

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