Sales Secrets I – Tai Chi Not Foie Gras

We live in a world of Excess. Excess Selling. Excess Marketing. Excess Advertising. Excess Choice.  Excess Spam [Er surely an oxymoron? Ed.]

Consequently we have developed a strong resistance to being sold to.  Judging by the click-thru rates on web Ads our resistance is hard-wired at very deep levels in our perception – we don’t even “see” these Ads – we look at a page and our brain filters it out for us. As for someone knocking on our door (literally or metaphorically) – when was the last time you bought something like that? We feel this instinctive “go away!”.

And the same thing happens in business.  Some pushy salesman – or more subtly, manipulative, salesman – tries to get us to do something.  We instinctively resist.  Many of the 20thC “tricks” that decades of sales psychology research in the US (surely the most “salesy” culture on Earth?) no longer work.

So what’s the secret?  How do you overcome sales resistance? How do you “sell” something if that’s what you need to do – whether it’s selling yourself, your company’s products or services, or just your ideas to a colleague?

Tai-Chi holds the answer.

My qigong teacher - Master Lam

My qigong teacher – Master Lam

Tai-Chi is one of the ne plus ultra of Taoist Arts.  Hardness overcomes softness, softness overcomes hardness.

Yeh yeh, all so “Grasshopper” you may think (well you may think if you watched David Carradine in Kung Fu in the 70s lol – otherwise you might be mystified :-)). What is the application here?

Well in simple terms if you push someone they will push you back.  Try it now – or try it later. No matter who it is they will resist at some point – it’s instinctive.

Ditto – you try to “sell” and they resist, so you “sell more” … and they resist more.

This sounds such a basic point I am almost embarrassed to write about it.  However time and time again one sees professional salesmen doing this.

So what is the secret?

Don’t push.  Don’t sell.

Don’t sell?! … but I am trying to sell! … I have to sell lol.

Well “Zen/Tao and the Art of Sales” is not-selling as selling.  That might sound like I am off with the fairies or walking silently over rice paper before getting some well-neat dragons branded on my inner forearms (David Carradine leaves the temple).

So, in plain terms this is about creating a buying process not a selling process. Although we do not like being sold to, most of us in this materialist world, like buying.

I will write more about this another day as it’s a radical shift of thinking – completely inverting the normal order of things – and it takes a lot of skill to do well … even the smallest hint of “pushing” (or desiring) ruins the day … there is to be no pushing at all.  Imagine some shy animal that you want to eat out of your hand … you have some tasty food there … you can talk about it … you can say how others like it … but you want them to come to you … if you chase them they will run away.

Your job is to hold your value in your hand arouse interest in it by all means – but to use another reference concept – the whole thrust is educational.

Some time back I heard a good audio-book – “Start With No” by Jim Camp (it was free when I came across it – maybe you can get lucky too).  It’s about negotiation – but in a way negotiation is selling isn’t it.  Anyway if you fancy a diversion, for a quick taste of it check out this Slideshare:

Now that’s about negotiation but I have used the same concept with sales.  Right at the beginning of the meeting I say “Look maybe this isn’t for you, I am not here to sell anything, just to show you some stuff and if it’s of interest we can have another conversation another day.”

The interesting thing about this approach is:

(a) it always works; and

(b) it gives sales-inexperienced folks a heart attack!  “You can’t say that”.  But that’s coming from what I call the “Foie Gras” school of selling … where you see your job to stuff as much as possible down the Goose’s throat.  You don’t want that kind of job.

So next time you go to sell something, anything, recall this point about pushing creating its own resistance,  Use Tai Chi … don’t try to stuff the Goose. It works as well with your partner as it does selling million dollar deals 😉


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