The Benefits of Low-Key Selling

Don't intimidate your customers with pushy sales tactics--put them at ease so they want to buy.

By Tom Hopkins

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Too many people in business don't do well when it comes to selling because they think selling requires them to be pushy and aggressive. They think they have to talk and talk and talk, wearing clients down until they give in and buy. Or they think if they just give clients enough information about the product or service that they'll want it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Great selling involves being low key. It involves developing the ability to lead people with questions rather than push them with facts. When you're talking, you're only spouting off what you already know. Truly successful people in business understand that what really matters is getting their clients talking about what they need, then matching a product or service to those needs.

None of this requires aggressiveness of any sort. It doesn't involve talking fast either. Many consumers have the stereotypical perception of people who sell products as being fast talkers. If they hear that coming from you, they'll quickly raise defensive barriers. Little alarms will go off in their heads telling them they don't want to be sold anything. They'll try to get away from you as quickly as possible and seek out someone who can be of service to them, rather than someone who's trying to control them.

The fun part of learning how to professionally meet and present products to people is that you still remain in control--but not in a way that generates fear. You control your meetings with clients by being professional and sincerely interested in their needs, by putting them at ease and by asking a lot of questions. When you get them talking about themselves or their needs, they'll relax. And when they relax, they'll tell you more about why they want what they want, and that's what you really need to know.

In many cases, clients will contact you seeking "X" because they think that's what will take care of their needs. However, you're the professional on the subject of your product line. If all you do is talk with them about "X" and try to sell them that product, you could be doing them a disservice. By remaining low key and asking questions about their needs, you could very well determine that product "X+" would be so much better for them and make them happier clients in the long run.

It could be that your client contacted your business because they thought they needed a caretaker for a loved one. Your services might be right up their alley, but what they really need is to be relieved of guilt or to feel a sense of security that getting outside help is in the best interests of that loved one. The actual product becomes secondary to their feelings. Their sense of security and confidence in you is primary. If they're comfortable with you--because you show sincere interest in their needs--the "sale" becomes little more than outlining the details of the care required and setting up a beginning date and time.

If you're a carpet cleaner, your clients don't just need clean carpets. They want their home or office to smell fresh and look as close to brand new as possible with little or no hassle, and they want it done economically--hence the value of the old saying "under-promise and over-deliver." That's another low-key approach to business.

By making your clients and their needs the star in your communications with them, they'll sense the level of importance you put on serving them well. Those businesspeople who take center stage for themselves and their products may appear to outshine the low-key people in business. But those who keep their profiles low and their service levels high are those who will be sought out time and again by their clients and others that they'll undoubtedly refer to you.

Tom Hopkins

Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as "the builder of sales champions." For the past 30 years, he's provided superior sales training through his company, Tom Hopkins International.

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