If Salespeople Can Get Customers to Beg, What about Shake Hands and Roll Over?


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It’s amazing how many different things you can get customers to do:

How to
. . . get customers to come to you
. . . get customers to beg for your product
. . . get customers to give you their email address
. . . get customers to agree to a case study
. . . get customers to sense, feel, think, ACT, relate
. . . get customers to buy Avon products
. . . get customers to chase you instead of the other way around
. . . get customers to answer questions

What’s almost as amazing is that people still think in terms of “getting” customers to do things. On a LinkedIn discussion board last week, someone asked “how do salespeople get prospects to share key business objectives or goals?”

The customer as marionette, and the all-knowing, all-powerful salesperson as puppeteer. I understand the appeal. Take action. Get desired results. With such certainty, nearly 100% of salespeople should make quota.

Not even close. According to the CSO Insights 2009 Sales Compensation Survey, “the percentage of reps expected to meet or exceed quota is now 52.4%.” One in four firms expects fewer than half of their reps to make quota. What happened to the bullish proclamations in these “How to’s”?

Contrast the get-customers-to-act point of view with “our product sells itself.” The difference couldn’t be more striking: pushing uphill versus tapping existing momentum. Heavy lifting versus guiding. As a salesperson, which would you rather undertake?

Something in the middle, perhaps? After all, Apple’s fabulously successful i-(anything) still takes sales finesse to complete the purchase transaction. But Apple’s sales strength comes from creating product hits that address unmet needs—and then making it wicked-easy to part with your money to get them. That’s not heavy lifting. Apple knows how to channel and guide buying momentum, providing an economic reward that goes right to the bottom line.

Moving strategies and tactics away from controlling customer behaviors toward leveraging buying momentum challenges salespeople and sales leaders alike. For many years we’ve acknowledged that the most skilled sales professionals enable customers to buy without “feeling sold.” That ideal has been championed through Social selling (or Sales2.0), which operates from a customer-centric vantage point. Social selling recognizes that top performing sales organizations develop sales resources that are valuable to people who buy, and they create sales processes that connect with buying processes.

Beats trying to teach an old dog new tricks.

If you want to learn more, join the free Webinar Axel Schultze and I are holding on April 29, Beyond Glengarry: Put Social in Your Sales Process and Get to the Next Level.


  1. I had a client meeting this morning I have to share this here. I ask the potential customer if he’d be interested in having access to our CRM system and be part of this as a joint project. He said:

    “Well – a)I’d be very surprised you allow me to do that. b) I’m not a customer yet and you are still only one of several options but c) If I’d become part of YOUR process – you certainly will be part of MY process.”



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