Nobody likes being sold over something in life. In a way you feel violated, like the person plugging their product during an otherwise normal conversation is seriously invading your personal space. There’s a famous quote by Joe Gardner that you might relate to,
Be generous — whether you’re operating in the capacity of a founder, a standard employee, or simply as someone going through their everyday work-life routine.
The problem clearly is that we’re all — at some point in our life — salespersons. Whether you’re selling your business, your personal services, pitching your book, or angling yourself as a more potential employee, sales are something you just have to do, whether you like it or not.
So the big question for all of us, then, is: how do we sell without turning people off? The best answer I could give: treat other people like normal human beings & focus on helping them — without any immediate expectations of getting something in return (whether monetary or anything in-kind).
In other words, BE GENEROUS. Whether you’re trying to operate in the capacity of a founder, a standard employee, or simply as someone going through their everyday work-life routine. Here’s why being generous for people around you is so important,
You need to be generous with your talent & time, as people will be more willing to help you later on
Being generous is a smart business strategy if well thought on. But it also pays to operate altruistically even more— not just in explicit service of building a business.
This is something I abide by personally as well. But the benefits extend beyond ethics. By creating this sort of “friendship capital” that can prove instrumental in your career in the future as well. Being generous carries lifetime value because it later acts as a part of your lifetime reputation. And you never know when that reputation might come in handy, nor who your future employer, client, or partner might be.
To clarify, I’m not suggesting you go out and start giving lofty referrals for people you don’t know, or that you dedicate hours of your time for someone who won’t appreciate it at all. Don’t overextend yourself over any terms. That’s not a smart investment of your time or capital. But to be as generous as you’re feasibly able to very much is.
In a sales context, genuinely helping potential clients is the best strategy you may opt for
Sales can be uncomfortable at times. We all know that. But here’s the truth: Sales becomes an infinitely more enjoyable and offers a seamless experience if you’re providing a solution to someone who has a genuine need for it and carries interest in your product or service. It’s easier if you’re helping them as opposed to asking them to help you in return.
It’s been a huge part of my success & for my founding team as well. Our intention wasn’t to “sell” or even to start a business, but rather a side effect of nurturing our network, establishing relationships, and offering tech help to those friends who approached us seeking it. The more we helped the people around us, the more they told their friends about us, and the more people outside of our immediate network began approaching us in search of solutions to their problems. At this point, we were the ones deciding whether or not we wanted to work with them, which was a much better position to be in as compared to the former one.
Even now, we conceive of the work we do as helping people who come to us asking for assistance. All of our growth is organic. Primarily referral-based, and ultimately a product of this simple fact: our customers just like working with us because we like helping them.
Of course, how one goes about helping folks to build a reliable network goes beyond having good intentions over it. You need to be tremendously good at what you do. As the help you offer has to actually be helpful to someone who receives it.
As simple as it might seem, it really does boil down to just trying to be a good person. The “formula” is as simple as helping others when you can and, yes, offering that help without explicit expectations of receiving something in return. Many favour potential friends to ask for taking less than 5 minutes for you to complete. But the return for you at that time is worth so much more. People remember when you go above and beyond for them in order to serve them with a solution.
Win friends instead of quick sales
What I’m talking about here describes a certain dichotomy that tends to separate salespeople from a human being. Some salespeople don’t operate in an altruistic fashion. Instead, they aim for capturing as many quick wins as they can through aggressive tactics. This at times goes wrong.
But that’s ultimately a shortsighted strategy you may adapt for yourself. It’s completely unsustainable. It’s better to take your time and seek to build a foundation of reliable friendships with people who gradually will be lifelong partners. Because even if those partners don’t immediately become clients or give you their business if you’re generous and kind, they’re more likely to refer you to people who will become clients. Or, down the road, they may even go on to become clients themselves.
The bottom line which would serve you is:
The more you help others, the more seeds of potential future collaboration you’ll sow for yourself.
At the end of the day, this is simply a smart mindset to adopt
Again, you shouldn’t put the goals of others before your own. You can’t overextend or distract yourself. And you shouldn’t go out of your way to help others when they prove over time incapable of reciprocating that generosity back to you.
But, ultimately, it benefits you to be generous both professionally and personally. It allows you to invest more genuinely in relationships which themselves will prove valuable to you down the line in the future. Plus, a healthy reputation will, over time, win you more success and business than any aggressive sales tactic ever could. Be generous, end of the story.