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Whether you recognize it or not, you are in sales. In our day-to-day lives, we are all selling in some way. If this notion conjures up negative feelings or discomfort for you, you might be confusing selling with manipulating. Selling does not mean getting someone to buy or do something that isn’t a good fit. Selling means being aware of what is important to the customer. Selling is helping people make the best choice based on what our service or offering will do for them and expressing these benefits in a way that resonates with the person we are helping.

As a business consultant and coach, I have found that people new to the sales aspect of their role often need a bit of help to recognize that there is a process to sales. The successful sales process is oriented around one simple truth: people do things for their reasons, not yours. People take action and make choices not because we think our offer is good for them, but because we found a way to communicate our offer in such a way that they begin to understand what it’s going to do for them.

What motivates a person to buy my good or service?

When deciding whether to buy a solution to a problem, decision-makers evaluate the situation from either the aspect of what it will do for the business or what it will do for them personally. I have found that small/medium business owners and independent professionals primarily make purchase decisions based on what it will do for them personally.

Their personal motivations fall into one of six key areas:

1. Achievement: creating a result; achieving a non-financial or financial goal for its own sake.

2. Recognition: often hiding underneath the need to achieve; a desire to demonstrate that among peers, she/he is operating at a certain level of performance.

3. Personal Pleasure: the desire for a higher level of life satisfaction; capitalizing on gifts and talents to earn an income while achieving one’s life purpose and doing the things that bring joy.

4. Personal Profit: the desire to make the most money possible is the primary goal.

5. Save Time & Improve Productivity: the desire to get things done now; looking for ways to improve efficiency and productivity for the purpose of reducing operations costs.

6. Security: often influenced by the individual’s life experiences; the desire to remove uncertainty and risk.

Breaking down motivations and benefits into these six key areas is a process that’s been around for at many years. It’s communicating the “Sizzle not the steak”, or “The view not the window”. What makes this technique particularly powerful and effective is when we rank the benefits in priority order based on the motivations and interests of the individual prospect. We must understand the key benefits that will work for the individual, and bring them to the forefront of our conversation.

How do I find out what really motivates and interests my prospect?

The most simple and natural way to find out how you can best help someone is to develop a genuine curiosity about him or her. Be interested in them and ask them about what is happening in their lives, their struggles, their successes, and their hopes for the future. Then actively listen to their input. Many people think they need to go into a meeting prepared to pitch when they really need to prepare to listen. In fact, the opposite is true.  A fruitful needs assessment meeting typically consists of 85% listening and 15% presenting.

For more information on selling genuinely and effectively, I encourage you to read Action Selling by Duane Sparks. Action Selling is one of the best little easy-to-read sales books I have found. It effectively addresses how the sales function works in a way that everyone can understand and begin applying immediately.

Now it’s your turn.

What is your attitude about selling?

How would shifting your paradigm of sales from ‘manipulation’ to ‘providing service’ and ‘problem-solving’ energize your own sales efforts?

How would prioritizing the benefits of your offering to be in tune with your prospect’s interests yield better results for you?

How can approaching your prospects with genuine interest and active listening make the selling process easier and more effective?


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Larry Freeborg
Larry Freeborg is a life transition coach and inspirational speaker focused on working with people in the “Bonus Years” of their lives. His unique experiences working with businesses in strategic planning, business development (marketing & sales), leadership and personal development are blended with his training in life coaching, equine guided coaching, and his personal experiences with loss to form the foundation of his coaching practice, Living The Good Life on Purpose. Larry is available for speaking engagements with his popular “Refire, Don’t Retire!” and “Life Purpose Primer” programs. Contact Larry at