Selling Is Not About Winning

Dysfunctional selling practices are rampant throughout the world today, especially where people are selling stuff with intangible, or difficult to quantify, value.

Dysfunctional buying practices have evolved to defend against dysfunctional selling practices. The world of buying and selling has devolved into a world that is driven by mistrust. This can be a very frustrating world to live in.

Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa is one of the books that has helped me advance my professional sales skills. Khalsa lays out an insightful rationale on why professional sellers struggle with prospective clients and why clients struggle with prospective sellers. Here is his memorable description of the problem:

With due respect to sales professionals, the notion of sales and selling carries a lot of negative baggage. It is the second oldest profession, often confused with the first. No matter what you put in front of or in back of the word “selling” (consultative, solution, visionary, creative, integrity, value-based, beyond), it still ends up with the sense of doing something “to” somebody rather than “for” or “with” somebody.

The perception that sellers are preying on you (they win, you lose) rather than trading with you (you both win by receiving good value in the exchange) is the source of mistrust that drives our perceptions and fear of sellers. To be blunt, this perception is often deserved. It is a rare human being who will negotiate for the fairest exchange rather than an outcome where they come out ahead. When the value of something is intangible and difficult to quantify (a piece of art, a manuscript, or some other collectible), fairness becomes a very elastic measure. This adds complications because the people negotiating with each other have no consistent measurement standard on which to base their arguments.


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