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How to fail at selling and still win

Posted by Ellie (Yael) Tamari on 10/13/17 2:16 PM

I attended a networking event last night. My goal coming in was to track down, and connect with a top prospect in a strategic account I was trying to penetrate. I wanted to know if I can help them solve their business challenges.

After about an hour of meeting various people I finally found him standing alone. I walked up and said “Hey John, I’ve been looking for you”. He didn’t seem remotely excited to see me.

“Why were you looking for me?”

“Well, I wanted to ask you how you are."

“Do you really care or are you just asking to be nice?”

"I actually really want to know how you’re doing. But you don’t look happy..."

“It’s been insane. I’m going to be a grandfather, my youngest got thrown out of college, my dog threw up, my wife is not well… Life is crazy.” he said.

At that moment I stopped caring about helping his business problems. It was all about this man who was standing in front of me and obviously feeling overwhelmed.

“I know how to help you.” I said. He replied, "I doubt you can do anything."

“I can offer you a hug from a total stranger you just met”. He smiled. “I would love a hug."

We hugged, laughed and started a long conversation that had nothing to do with his work problems, or our solution. It was two people who made a meaningful personal connection.

We shared an incredible conversation, got to know each other's personal interests, pet peeves, loves, hates, hobbies, and more and more...we became friends.

Then we talked about the industry, some issues that he’s dealing with due to the complexity of his business, and why sometimes it’s challenging to innovate in a traditional environment. He stated he doesn’t give a sh*t about technology and it’s “all about making the customer happy.” I agreed. To make a difference you can use technology, or you can use a hug.

As we parted he looked at me and said, “THANK YOU Ellie! Thank you for not selling to me.”

“I don’t sell. I just try to help."

We hugged again and said good night.

I guess I can always find new ways to fail at “selling” but still win. Nobody will let you care about their business until you care about them.

Topics: sales coaching, sales conversations