Think about the last time someone tried to sell you something. Whether it was a telemarketer calling during a family dinner, someone on the street with a clipboard asking you to sign a petition, or a salesperson in your office scrolling through a tediously long presentation, how did it make you feel? Defensive? Irritated?

Each sales meeting should be seen as an opportunity to serve someone. Tweet This Quote

Now, imagine you are that telemarketer, that person on the street with a clipboard, that salesperson fidgeting in your new suit trying to close the deal. Again, how do you feel? Desperate, uncomfortable?

Sales is a crucial element to the functionality of our society, yet how is it that we dread the current process? During a rapid-prototyping workshop at Project Literacy Lab, Tom Chi reframes sales not as selling a thing, but as serving a human. To illustrate how, Chi breaks down the sales process step by step.

The Prep Work

Above all, as Chi affirms, reframing sales is a mentality, not a technique. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of a sales pitch can tell whether or not it is disingenuous. Even if you believe in what you’re selling, when it becomes your agenda to make a sale, it becomes a technique. The purpose of the meeting isn’t about fulfilling an agenda, but about discovering whether or not you can provide a service to your potential customer. As Chi puts it, each sales meeting should be seen as an opportunity to serve someone.

Sales needs reframing—it’s not selling a thing, but serving a human. Tweet This Quote

The Pitch

This is the part where you’re supposed to blow them away with your amazing pitch. Your delivery and charisma will totally hook them, right? As Chi puts it, if we treat sales as a service, the first step is “getting to know your customer, what matters to them, and how will doing what you do serve what matters to them.” For Chi, this means spending at least 15 minutes getting to know your customer before even mentioning your company.

Now that your objective has changed, so should your behavior. For Chi, that means to “focus on expanding your understanding of their world” by listening—not talking. Once that is established, “assess the overlap with your product or service.” The overlap is the space where your business becomes relevant to your customer.

The difference between the honest salesperson and the dishonest one is what they do after the sell. Tweet This Quote

Closing the Sale

By now, you have found overlap with your customer, and they want to buy what you are selling. However, the sale is just the beginning. For Chi, “The difference between the honest salesperson and the dishonest one is what you do after the sell.” What’s more, by treating sales as a service, his goal is to try and “give them 10 times the value of the product [he sells].” While this doesn’t have to be exactly numerical, it serves as a benchmark for how you should feel when “selling” to your customer.

Sales can be the ultimate opportunity to invest in relationships. Tweet This Quote

What if there isn’t overlap between your customer and your business? Acknowledge it. Forcing a sale is a waste of your time and their time. Instead, Chi reframes it as an opportunity to exchange contacts or resources, asking at the end of the meeting if there is anyone else you should talk to. “Worst case scenario, you can be a kind stranger that talked to them once,” he says.

Ultimately, reframing sales is about humanizing the process and paring it down to its most basic form—an exchange between two people. Furthermore, sales can be the ultimate opportunity to invest in relationships and grow your network—even if you don’t end up selling anything at all.

About the author

Cecily Mauran

Cecily Mauran

Cecily is an Associate Editor for UNREASONABLE.is. She is an entrepreneur, writer, photographer, dog lover, outdoors enthusiast, and hot sauce connoisseur. She believes in entrepreneurship as a tool for social impact.