Does Selling Have to Be Manipulative?

Does Selling Have to be Manipulative?

Many of the coaches, thought leaders, and change agents I speak to think that selling is bad, manipulative and wrong. Does this resonate with you?

As I work with clients to improve their sales skills and grow the number of clients in their business, I observe that they've bought into only one side of selling – the dark side.

It's so easy to do. You notice the hard sellers, the folks only out for themselves, the manipulators. The people you know don't care about you and what you want. It's just about them and the money they can get from you.

I call this “narcissism in business” and it's been rampant since the robber barons figured out how to corner the market on natural resources and make fortunes. Heck, it's probably been around since humans lived in caves and someone hogged the mastodon steaks.

But things are shifting. Have you noticed?

  • You want to know that the companies and people you buy from are the real deal, not faking it through fancy marketing.
  • You don't buy only because of what the company says about its products and services - you do research, ask your friends, and read reviews. The internet makes it so much harder for business narcissists to fake you out.
  • You want to know the story about why the founder started the business and about her values and behavior so that you can get to know, like, and trust her and what she offers.

And you’re not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people just like you looking for real connections and authentic buying experiences. 

So instead of only looking at the dark, manipulative side of selling, I say, "Let's turn this around. Let's put the good folks, like you, in the driver seat so that you can get your message out to the people who need what you offer and help facilitate transformation in their life and/or business through what you offer.”

How do you change the way you look at selling?

Think about a time when you had an excellent experience buying a product or service. When you break down the experience, you probably noticed this:

  • You felt heard because the salesperson (could also be a coach/creative/change maker) listened well and understood your desires and concerns.
  • If your needs were a match with what the salesperson offers s/he told you about it.
  • S/he asked if the solution s/he had was something you wanted.
  • S/he let you decide and ask questions.
  • S/he wanted you to make the best decision for yourself and did not try to pressure you.
  • S/he listened as you voiced your concerns, fears, and hesitations.
  • S/he let you make the decision but didn't give up on you and your possibilities.

That is the evolved side of selling, what I call “Peak State Selling”. You can learn to engage and enroll clients this way because you have the skills to listen, you care, and you have a solution to offer.

I experienced this in 2014 when I was fresh off two large coaching programs that weren't a great fit for me – I got lots of information and instructions to “Just Do It!” but not a lot of the support I needed. I was still looking for solutions to succeed in my business, but I was quite skeptical.

I talked to a coach whom I like a lot. When she offered me yet another coaching program, I shared my disillusions and disappointment that I hadn't gotten the results I had hoped for in those other programs.

Here's what she did differently:

  • She let me know she understood my hesitation.
  • She didn't make me wrong.
  • She didn't pressure me to enroll in her program.
  • She didn't step back from believing that she could help me succeed.
  • She invited me to see the possibility for myself.
  • She hung in the conversation and her presence and caring helped me to decide.

I did decide to enroll in her program, and with that decision I began a transformation that has changed so much for me and my business.

In that exchange, she taught me how to sell in a way that served us both - she modeled Peak State Selling™ for me.

Peak State Selling™ is sophisticated skill for sure. Every day I strive to get better at serving the people I speak to and work with in these ways:

  • I check in to make sure that I'm coming from my heart, not my ego, so that I can serve in the best possible way.
  • I listen carefully, work to understand the other person’s real problem, and reflect back what I hear so she feels heard and hopeful that there's a solution to her problem.
  • I work constantly to improve my communication skills so I convey what is possible through working with me.
  • I embrace courage so that I see the possibilities for the other person, not their self-imposed limitations, and lead a conversation that facilitates transformation.
  • I remember that, if the other person is to achieve the transformation she desires, she has to commit her time, energy, and money so I can't sell out her out by over giving or deciding she's incapable of change.
  • I work on my inner game to uncover and release my own hidden limitations so they don't keep me from engaging with the people I can help.
  • I stand firmly in the knowledge that caring people just like you and me are capable of succeeding in transforming the lives and businesses of people through evolved ways of selling and serving – through Peak State Selling™.

Some questions for you to explore:

  • What could learning to sell in an evolved way do for you and the people you want to serve? Whose life or business would be improved because they worked with you?
  • What could you fulfill in yourself if you enrolled more clients?
  • How would your business look and feel if you had more clients and enjoyed more income?