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I was at breakfast with a friend the other day and we were talking about networking and building our respective businesses.


I don’t think I’m threatening enough” he said.


“Excuse me?” I wasn’t sure I heard him right so I asked him again. “What do you mean by that?” He responded that a sales coach had told him he’d build his business much bigger and faster if he was more threatening.

"You’re too nice a guy" the sales coach had said. "Everyone likes you and feels very comfortable with you so it’s hard for you to switch into sales mode."

My friend felt very uncomfortable with this. He didn’t feel comfortable switching into "sales mode," he said. He genuinely likes people and doesn’t like to pressure anyone into a sale.

This pressuring, this "sales mode" mentality, is actually why so many people can’t stand salespeople. It’s also why most people are themselves uncomfortable selling.  Hard-driving sales tactics and techniques are just typically not who most of us are. Those types of tactics make us uncomfortable and often cause our prospective clients to put up a big wall between us.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in and coach people on sales processes and techniques that increase the likelihood of making the sale. However, these techniques don’t need to be aggressive and unnatural.  Here are 3 tips that can help you build relationships instead of tearing them down and which constitute elements of a no-pressure, natural, "relationship-building" sale:

  • Don’t throw up

The most important thing to all of us is…ourselves. So when we meet someone new at a networking event or meet with a prospect, why do we "show up and throw up?" Why do we insist on talking about ourselves so much before we know anything about the other person? Since people are most interested in themselves, we should spend 80% of the time being interested in them and asking them open-ended questions in order to find out more about them. They’ll love you for it since they are talking about something they enjoy and are interested in (themselves) and it will have the added benefit of you learning what their "hot buttons" are and if they are a true prospect for you or not.

  • Consult, don’t sell

People don’t want to be sold. They want their problems solved or their pain to go away. Instead of selling them, try to help them solve their problems. This shows them your value better than a canned sales pitch or a PowerPoint presentation ever will. Some people are concerned that this would mean giving some of their services away for free. However, to me, spending 15 minutes or an hour helping someone address their problems is worth the time.

  • Are you open?

"Are you open to some help with that?" If you haven’t "thrown up" on them and you’ve "consulted" instead of "sold," closing the sale becomes much easier.  Instead of closing hard using traditional sales techniques, all you have to do is ask this one simple, non-threatening question. Most people are"open to some help." It doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to make the sale, but it does mean you’re much more likely to openly discuss the potential to do so. 

Selling this way will ensure that if you don’t make the sale, you’ll at least make a friend. And friends refer other friends. You win either way.

What’s worked for you? What tips do you have to make the sale and make a friend at the same time? We’d love to hear them.