Subtlety and Selling

Subtlety is a term that is challenging to define. So why then is it an indispensable part of our vocabulary?

Most effective selling, at the highest of premiums, is done subtly. That is why the designations of these sellers have no mention of “sales”, such as Partners, Business Development Managers and Customer Success Managers.

Nobody likes being sold to, but everybody buys. But why is that so?

Every subtle situation is a puzzle waiting to be solved. We humans are natural born puzzle solvers, given our propensity to crossword puzzles and stories. Every story is a puzzle that the listener actively solves as the plot unfolds.

And by drawing people in, puzzles earn their voluntary engagement – their enrollment. When somebody has volunteered to do something, they are happy to invest effort in achieving it. Once the sale has been made, the buyer is an engaged volunteer towards the cause being sold to them – be it a product, an idea or an investment.

So to be subtle is to walk the boundary that separates vagueness and clarity, inviting the listener to move from one world to the other. In doing so, they are transformed from being an uninterested bystander to an engaged volunteer for whatever is being sold to them.

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