Friday, May 6, 2016

"Forget About 'Selling' And Go For Understanding Their Needs"

For some people selling comes relatively easy - it doesn't even matter what the product is. For others, it's more difficult, and for some it's petrifying.

Selling has gotten a bad name because we associate unpleasant experiences that we've had or witnessed over the years with the whole field of selling. We, like many people, generalize and tend to ascribe the overbearing, pushy, won't-take-no-for-an-answer salespeople to anyone who sells a product or service.

Nevertheless, where would businesses be without sales? Nowhere! Without sales there is no revenue, and without money a business cannot exist. No matter how good of a product or service a company might have, if they can't get people to own or use what they offer, there is no viable business. It's that simple.

Over the years, selling frequently has gotten a bad name because of how it's applied. Business-to-business selling where vendors and suppliers sell to business and industrial customers - often in very large quantities or large dollar volumes - is quite common and both buyers and sellers are used to dealing with the others.

It's the business-to-consumer selling that creates most of the issues.

Consumers are used to shopping in a retail store, online, or self-serve such as a grocery or convenience store. Here they remain in control and don't encounter salespeople or employees unless they have a question or need to check-out. Some large retailers and gas stations even provide self-check out or automated transactions where no one else is involved in making the purchase.

So, when salespeople engage consumers to sell home products, services, big ticket items, or other major purchases, sometimes they advance their own agenda rather than just meeting the needs of the customer. This is where the reputation of salespeople takes a hit.


There company has established a quota for them to meet as part of the overall company sales plan. They have a projected revenue and need each salesperson to produce a certain portion of that revenue. They might have a particular product that is not selling as well as others in their inventory that encourage or even incentivize salespeople to "push." This is where many sales issues arise.

Rather than determine what the consumer wants to own to solve their personal needs or desires, the salesperson tries to sell them what the salesperson feels compelled to sell by his or her company. Their need to make a sale overrides the needs of the consumer.

So, let's forget about selling as aging-in-place providers. We have a valuable product or service that we offer in terms of providing for the needs of our customers. Rather than focusing on selling or making a sale, let's go for understanding the needs of our potential clients and designing an approach that serves their interests and budget.


We don't have a quota, and we don't need to make a sales for the sake of making a sale. We offer solutions, and we derive great satisfaction from helping people to enjoy a safer, more comfortable, and more accessible living space than what they have when we first meet them.

When we truly learn what people need and suggest a course of action to help them achieve it - rather than approaching the encounter as trying to make a sale for our own purposes - they will allow us to help them and we will have made the sale.

Anything else is a disservice to the public, and this is why the consumer often bristles at the idea of working with a salesperson or anyone they perceive as just trying to sell them something they may not need or want.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.