There are very few people who enjoy being sold something.

Imagine, if you would, an instance where you were living out your life – thinking about work, finishing projects, talking to family, planning ahead, and suddenly somebody imposes a conversation on you. Not just any conversation, mind you – this conversation is going somewhere, and you really don’t have any say in what comes next. That, in a nutshell, is what sales has become: an interruption. At best, the sale happens at a convenient time for both parties, but, more often than not, sales becomes a numbers game.

“How many people can I talk to before I can make a sale?”

There’s a concept in field of communications called the “Expectation Violations Theory” that touches on this point. I won’t bore you with the details – so here’s the entirety of the theory in one sentence: when you do something unexpected during an interaction, and the person has already determined in their mind that they marginally like you, they are more likely to interpret that action as positive.

How does that relate to sales?

Easy.

People working in the business to business field are used to sales discussions. People who work in the sales industry are used to a certain amount of rejection. People who work in this industry are used to cookie-cutter, transaction-based, conversations with little, to no, realization that the person they are interacting with on the other side of the phone is an actual human being with thoughts and feelings and struggles of their own.

When you stop approaching sales with the mentality that it is a numbers game and approach every phone call, every interaction, every meeting, and every email with a humanizing mindset – a mindset that understands the people we are in constant dialogue with have their own vivid life outside of their line of work – that is entirely unexpected. The focus of the conversation shifts from “what can I get from you?” to “how can I help make your life better?”

The crazy thing about violating people’s expectations with kindness is that they usually respond in kind.

In a world driven by sales discussions, the most insanely effective sales tactic you could possibly employ is to stop selling and start serving.

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