selling vs begging for the sale

Are Your Salespeople Selling? Or Are They Begging?

Gee Ranasinha Sales

Are your salespeople selling, or begging?

By that, I’m not asking you if your sales team are hitting their sales targets. What I mean is do your salespeople actually ’sell’, or are they simply asking their prospects whether they are interested in buying?

Having the word ‘sales’ in your job title doesn’t implicitly infer competency. In other words, it doesn’t mean you’re any good at it.

In my book there are two kinds of salespeople. There are ‘sellers’, and then there are ‘order takers.’ The way each of these operate couldn’t be more different. One of them will grow your business. The other? Well, you can guess the rest.

How can you spot a salesperson from an order taker? That’s easy. Here’s an example.

The difference between selling and order-taking

Consuming fast food isn’t something I particular relish (if you’ll pardon the pun). But the outcome of a particularly tiring or stressful day occasionally mandates giving some of my internal organs fodder to chew on literally, while I do something similar metaphorically. In other words, sometimes I may have to visit a fast food restaurant.

Upon deliberation of menu item images that will prove to bear little physical resemblance of the delivered object, I approach the counter. I inform the person behind the counter what I would like to eat and drink, and he or she takes my order by pressing a number of buttons on a machine.

After paying for my order, a minute or two passes before my food is handed to me. The exchange of goods for money is complete, so off I skip. All is good – apart from the lack of nutritional value in what I’ve just purchased in order to quell the pang of hunger.

Hold on a minute. Let’s look at that situation again.

When you review the interaction I had with the server, would you consider what they did to be ‘selling’?

Clearly it’s not. You’d have to agree that what the fast food joint’s employee did was simply note down my order, fulfil it, and take my money.

Are you selling to me, or simply taking my order?

Now imagine the same situation, but with a slight twist.

This time when I place my order, the server asks me if I would like large fries instead of regular for ‘only’ an additional fifty cents. Not only that, but I’m asked whether I would be interested in a ‘menu special’ that included a large drink AND large fries for a dollar extra.

In this example, there’s clearly more things going on. Rather than being a simple exchange of food for money, the interaction contains a subroutine. Rather than going from A to B, additional options are presented to the buyer prior to order completion. The buyer may not have been aware of these options when coming to their original decision on what to order.

Looking at the actions of the fast food employee, can this second option be termed as ‘selling’? Again, I’m guessing that most people would argue it’s not.

OK, here’s the final example.

Supposing that I’m in a restaurant. My server recommends a choice of accompanying wines based upon what I’ve ordered as a main course. Or suggests a light refreshing sorbet for dessert because they noticed that I didn’t want dressing on my salad or a cream-based sauce on my chicken.

In this situation, would you say that is selling?

Yes, I’d say that absolutely was.

Selling is more than ‘order-taking’

I often hear stories from underperforming so-called salespeople. When asked why their prospective customer didn’t buy, they reply something along the lines of “I asked them if they wanted to buy my product/service, but they said no.”

Really? THAT’s the best you’ve got?

If your sales pitch is simply to ask “Do you want to buy this?”, I’ll bet that you’re used to disappointments.

If your entire sales strategy is to go visit a customer, drink their coffee, show them a worn-out, dog-earned product catalog and then ask them if they want to buy, you’re a disgrace.

You’re the reason why customers hate salespeople.

You’re the reason why the sales professionals who do actually give a stuff have an uphill battle on their hands to win over potential customers who’ve been subjected to your pitiful excuse of a sales call.

If you’re doing little more than simply asking people to buy, then you’re not selling: You’re begging.

You’re not interested in helping your customer. You couldn’t give a stuff about actually taking the time to learn about their issues, and understanding their concerns.

You couldn’t give two hoots about solving their problem, in making their lives easier.

You’re only interested in trying to close a sale, and taking your commission.

You’re lazy, disinterested, and self-serving. And it shows.

About the Author
Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha is CEO and founder of KEXINO. He's been a marketer since the days of 56K modems, lectures on marketing and behavioral economics at a European business school, and was noted as one of the top 100 global business influencers by (those wonderful people who make financial software).

Originally from London, today Gee lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and teenage son.

Find out more about Gee at Follow him on Twitter at KEXINO, on Facebook at, or on LinkedIn at


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