Sales has very little to do with selling

Sales has very little to do with selling

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


Sales has very little to do with selling

Everyone in sales wants to learn how to sell their product or service better. And everyone is wrong.

Oh sure, selling skills are an integral part of the selling process, and occasionally have to be employed. But understanding and mastering the other elements of a “sale” will get you further, quicker, and with a greater profit. Attitude, presentation skills, belief and love of what you do will go miles farther than mere selling skills.

Over the last decade I have drifted away from “how to sell,” and concentrated my writing and training efforts on “why people buy.”

Buying motives are 1,000 times more powerful than selling skills. UNLESS you are dealing with a purchasing department or a procurement department. Those are price-only hell-holes, driven by a reckless philosophy of “save a buck at all costs” without regard to quality, service, productivity, morale, durability, impact on customers, comfort of customers, loyalty of customers, ease of use, ease of service, or even profit.

Dealing with those procurement and purchasing people is not selling, it’s bidding. Lowest price gets it, and it requires little or no skills (other than your ability to lose all your profit in a deal). And if my 6-year old grand daughter Morgan has a lower price than you, she’ll get the order.

The bonus about learning buying motives on top of selling skills is that they are employed and decided at a level or two ABOVE purchasing and procurement.

A C-level executive has the power to call purchasing and tell them the search is over. In the rock-paper-scissors game of business, CEOs and Vice Presidents cover purchasing agents.

REALITY: All you need to secure that segment of sales is to master every element of why they buy.

The best example of this in


is The Westin hotel chain. A few years ago they figured out that a comfortable bed would please customers. WHAT A CONCEPT! So instead of buying “the cheapest” they bought “the best.”

Did a purchasing agent make that decision? No. Did the salesman who brought them the idea go through purchasing? No. Someone figured out that a “motive” to buy was customer comfort and customer loyalty, and sold the beds based on that.

RESULT? The Westin hotels are making money when many others are not. Every other comparable hotel is in scramble mode to try to make their beds comfortable. AND customers are buying Westin Heavenly Beds by the thousands.

An added bonus of buying “the best” was that the bed actually made the news (front page money section of USA Today).

Think about that. Not only have they become a chosen hotel brand by many travelers (including me), but they SELL THE BEDS to their customers.

I am certain that there are people in the mattress business that are whining at this very moment that their product is becoming a “commodity.” Maybe you have had the same whine about your product or service. The reason you think you’re a commodity is that you are “selling” and “competing”. Big mistake.

ANSWER: Think about how someone can benefit or profit from your product. Think of a value proposition for your product or service that goes beyond the price. When you come up with that, you have a motive to buy.

The skills you use to come up with an idea are creativity and attitude, combined with a refined knowledge and perspective of your industry or market. Then it requires compelling communication and presentation skills. Enthusiasm and belief in what you are presenting. No selling skills there.

Where are the selling skills? They are not needed to make a huge sale. Finding and understanding buying motives requires “think time” and “study time”. Two things you probably have never written in your day planner or entered on your electronic calendar.

You know my trademarked sales mantra: People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy. This powerful phrase plays a major role in understanding the “aha!” of the importance of uncovering the motive to buy.

When you have found a motive, you have also come to an understanding. A rapport. A common ground.

A sale.

Free GitBit — Want more info on why they buy? I have developed a list for retail and B2B that will give you a few ideas on creating a buying mood. Want it? Go to — register if you’re a first time user — and enter the words BUYING MOOD in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to

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the written approval of Jeffrey Gitomer or Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112