The Difference Between Selling & Persuading

May 30, 2011Leave a reply

Hub Mentality can be misapplied and taken too far. Specifically, its criticisms of sales mentality can be interpreted to mean that you shouldn’t sell at all and just be a “nice,” unobtrusive resource for people.

This can lead to a drop in sales in an effort to not appear too “salesy.”

But when applied properly, Hub Mentality increases website lead generation and sales, particularly through recurring sales from existing customers and referrals.

The issue isn’t whether or not you should sell — it’s how you should sell. More precisely, transforming your business to Hub Mentality means to shift from selling to persuading.

Step 1: Understand Buyer Psychology

To understand the difference between selling and persuading, we must first understand buyer psychology.

People want to buy. We are buyers by nature. Another, more fundamental, way of saying this is that we all have needs and desires that we want fulfilled. We want solutions to our problems. We want to alleviate pain and find pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment.

This lesson is particularly important on the web, where search engines are designed to send potential buyers to the most relevant sites. This means that the majority of visitors to your website are there because they want to buy what you’re selling.

If that’s the case, then why do some bounce out without buying? Why do some people leave your retail store without buying? The answer is that your site/store/process failed to remove the barriers.

Step 2: Remove the Barriers

Every buyer comes to you looking for different things and for different reasons. These reasons can include price, trust/credibility, convenience, style, comfort, prestige, speed/efficiency, and service, just to name a few.

If any legitimate, qualified visitors don’t buy from you, then one of seven things are at play:

  1. You didn’t give them enough information.
  2. You didn’t illustrate the benefits.
  3. You didn’t demonstrate your competitive advantages.
  4. You failed to highlight how others are benefiting from your company.
  5. Your systems create friction for the customer that overrides their desire to buy (i.e. a complicated online checkout process).
  6. You simply don’t provide the subjective benefits they’re looking for (i.e. they want blue jeans and you only have black).
  7. Your pricing is too high for their budget.

If you want your customers — who come to you wanting to buy — to actually buy from you, you must remove the barriers. In other words, you must give them what they want.

So What’s the Difference Between Selling & Persuading?

The core difference is that selling seeks to force customers through barriers, while persuading simply removes the barriers.

Salesman try to get people to buy regardless of if what their selling meets the real needs of potential customers. Persuaders find out what people really want and give it to them, and as efficiently as possible. Salesmen push; persuaders pull. Salesmen manipulate; persuaders serve.

Consider these contrasting case studies of retail stores:

Scenario 1
You walk into Store A looking for Adidas basketball shoes, which you like because they fit your feet in a way that no other shoe does. They don’t have them, but a salesmen interrupts your search to explain in detail why you should buy a pair of Nike shoes instead. You listen, not wanting to be rude, but you get increasingly impatient.

When you object, the salesmen quickly responds with more reasons. He may even knock a bit off the price, or try to give you some other benefit reserved for just such an occasion. You leave, angry for the wasted time and the uncomfortable situation.


Scenario 2
You walk into Store B looking for the same thing. An associate tells you, “I’m sorry, but we don’t have those in stock right now. However, Store C does, and I can tell you exactly how to get there. Or if you’d like, I can special order those shoes in your size and we can have them here in a week. Which would you prefer?”

Even if you choose to go to a different store, isn’t that experience going to stick in your mind? Of course it is, especially in contrast to what we’re all used to. You’ll be much more likely to tell your family and friends about them, and to purchase from them in the future. That’s what happens when persuasion replaces selling.

Conclusion: Increase Your Sales Through Hub Mentality

People want to buy. They’ve come to you because they perceive you as a provider of what they want. The only reason they will choose not to buy from you is if you present barriers, which are greater than their desire to buy.

The sales mentality says to sell them in spite of barriers. Hub Mentality says to simply remove the barriers and give them what they want, on their terms.

Hub Mentality isn’t about backing away from customers for fear of turning them off. It’s actually about engaging with them even more deeply than occurs in sales mentality, but in more appropriate ways.

So what barriers are keeping your potential customers from buying? What is your process for identifying them? And what are you doing to remove them?

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