Here’s a loaded question: when are you selling and when are you not? Clearly you can only close a deal when the customer’s need exists, the time is now and the prospect is ready to buy, but the prospect being ready to buy doesn’t mean you have to get all ‘salesey’. You could take the viewpoint that you should never be selling or the viewpoint that you’re selling all around the lifecycle, or something in between. Take whichever viewpoint you want – what’s important is that you’re responsible for the customer relationship with your company throughout the whole lifecycle and for how that ‘feels’ for the customer at each stage.

In the end, every relationship is emotional. Customers have sensations around their business pains ‒ if these don’t get solved, they’re a threat to a person’s view of himself, his career advancement and whether he keeps his job. You can turn those threats into value statements for your solution.

Imagine you’re about to buy something. You know you need it and you’re considering what the next steps are. Someone who tries to ‘sell’ aggressively is going to fail, because some of the key questions you have (such as ‘Do I like the person?’) really matter in services sales. Pushy people aren’t likeable. The question that trumps all the others is ‘Do I trust the person?’ If the answer is yes, it’s because you’ve proved yourself trustworthy throughout.

Next up: Dating the customer