The Golden Rule of Selling

As I was getting going this morning, I was thinking back to a client that told me, “I know I was sold…I just don’t know when.” at the end of our first meeting. That sales call happened at least 10 years ago and for the past 10+ years I’ve thought that her comment was a compliment on my ‘sales ability’. This morning I realized that it wasn’t about me. It was about her. She didn’t have an issue with her “Buy Cycle“.

Most of the time that I hear talk about “buy cycle” issues, it’s about the need to think about it, shop around, get multiple bids, or do more research. This morning, I realized that “buy cycle issues might also include, ‘the belief that salespeople are basically dishonest’, ‘the fear that if you actually listen to the salesperson and answer questions honestly, the salesperson will sell you something that you don’t want or need’, ‘the fear that if I show that I’m beginning to think that this salesperson has the solution, he will overcharge me’, or ‘the fear of being sold, period’.

In other words, it’s a trust issue. They don’t trust the salesperson so they put up a super strong defensive wall to keep the salesperson from discovering the truth because they don’t believe that the salesperson would do right by them because (Are you ready?)……the salesperson needs to make the sale, will do anything to make the sale, even if it’s not a good fit. And they know this because (Are you sure that you’re ready?)


It’s what they would do!
 Some salespeople believe that “whatever it takes” includes unethical stuff. It doesn’t. If you, as a prospect, don’t trust, you won’t be trusted. If you, as a prospect, don’t answer questions truthfully, you won’t get truthful answers. If you, as a prospect, put up a huge wall, you won’t be able to get through your prospect’s walls.

So, the Golden Rule of Selling is the Golden Rule.

Let me close the way I think The Sales Archaeologist would close, by paraphrasing a Ronald Reagan quote.


Mr. Salesman, tear down this wall!

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3 thoughts on “The Golden Rule of Selling

  1. Maybe a lot of people want to buy but they don’t know enough about what/why they are buying. So they try to replace a learning ritual with the buying ritual. They find a salesperson and start acting like they want to buy , but really they have no idea what they should do. To the salesperson this looks like a buyer who won’t be honest. Also, I think when a “I need to figure out what my problem is” person starts acting like a “I’m going to buy something” person they may feel vulnerable even stupid and that leads to lying (did i spell that corruptly?) or holding back all the details. I would call this the parallel universe of salespeople. Salespeople presenting too early. For the salesperson, they think they know the prospect’s problem and throw up product f/b at the prospect (present). A prospect doesn’t know how to “research” their problem starts acting like a buyer. They say things that signal “buy” and when questioned become stuck, confused, vulnerable and dishonest. The emotion that is generated between the two parties could power a small city.

  2. I am a reformed distruster of all sales people (please tell Chris I said that). There are any number of reasons for this distrust that so many people harbor. I agree with Rick that a salesperson who distrusts others is probably not trustworthy. On the other hand, non-sales folks who have heard (or perhaps experienced) myriad horror stories about dishonest sales people from many different industries may harbor a distrust based on their own ignorance about how sales people really should do their jobs. Through training, I have gone from distrusting all sales people to knowing enough about how a sales process SHOULD work that I critique them in my mind, and trust those that seem to ask me the kinds of questions that I know that they should have asked. I still have a hard time trusting a sales person that walks into my office and launches into a presentation about products without trying to learn what we might need them for. I used to have a wall. It was there to defend me against the unknown! Now that I know more, I am confident that my knowledge provides sufficient defense against unscrupulous, deceitful, or downright dishonest sales folks.

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