buying in a world of selling

It’s not what you’re selling. It’s what customers are buying.

Gee Ranasinha Marketing 5 Comments

At KEXINO, we often talk with owners of companies that are doing some really cool things, even as they’re struggling with sales.

Over the past couple of years I think we’ve heard just about every excuse imaginable as to why the sales aren’t coming in. Customers don’t have the money to spend, XYZ Company has stolen market share or (the best one) that the industry as a whole isn’t buying at the moment.

Is this due to global economic uncertainties? Unless you’re a publicly-quoted multinational, then it’s doubtful.

If you’re a start-up, sole trader, or small-to-medium-sized company (SME or SMB, depending on which side of the road you drive) then ten will get you five that the most likely reason why your sales are disappointing you isn’t that competition is too tough. It probably isn’t that the no-one’s buying at the moment. The most likely reason why your product or service isn’t selling is that the way that you’re selling is outdated, outmoded, and ineffective.

Talking Rather Than Listening

The reason that your customers aren’t buying from you isn’t because they no longer have money to spend. It’s because you’re trying to ‘sell’ to them, rather than being seen as adding value to them. It’s because you’re talking at them and not listening to them. It’s because you’re beating your chest about how great your company is, how your products are better than anyone else’s, how you’ve been in business for 20 years, etc.

In other words, the same old “BS” that has bored customers on and off for the past 100 years.

The problem with selling in the same way that your father and grandfather did is that, today, your customer is a very different proposition. The internet has produced a newly-empowered, more enlightened type of customer. A customer who’s more knowledgeable, more discriminating and more demanding than at any other point in history. The sales relationship is no longer about you, your company, your products or your services. It’s about meeting your customer’s needs and adding value to the equation.

If you want to grow revenues, increase customer satisfaction and drive your brand’s visibility and awareness, then you need realize that “selling” has changed. Customers don’t buy what you sell; they buy what they see as your value to them.

Good business practices aren’t cast in stone – they need to change and adapt to the commercial environment. Outdated methodologies and disciplines simply wither on the vine, and the overwhelming majority of sales processes implemented by companies are exactly that: Outdated.

It’s amazing how many salespeople within companies still think that they can base their business on sales principles that were invented half a century ago. Unless your customer is Don Draper, selling like it’s 1963 isn’t going to cut it. Today’s customers have heard it all before. They see the antiquated sales techniques, old-school “pressure” sales closes and “Aren’t We Great” sales presentations coming from miles away.

A quick question for you: When an existing customer has an enquiry, why do they prefer to talk to a knowledgeable customer service person rather than the sales rep that sold to them in the first place? The answer is because they see the customer services person as a source of reliable, trustworthy information that will help them. The sales rep, in contrast, is seen as being someone who’s just there to sell them something.

Organizations need to wake-up to the realization that their customers are a very different breed to the ones from just a few years ago. Today’s customer does their homework before they even engage with a company. Today’s customer already knows about you, and what you sell (as well as what you’re competition’s doing). Today’s customer buys. They are no longer sold to.

Show them how you’re a peer – not just another supplier. Educate them, converse with them, understand their situation, and help them solve their problems. But whatever you do, don’t even THINK about “selling” to them. Not only will it not work, but you’ll alienate them by insulting their intelligence and wasting their time.

At the end of the day, the single largest contributory factor to building revenue isn’t about sales. It isn’t even about marketing in the strictest sense of the word. It’s about engineering everything about and around the customer.

If they don’t feel at the center of your world, they’ll go to where they’re the center of someone else’s.

About the Author
Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha

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After founding a successful media production firm, Gee became worldwide director of marketing for a European software company. As well as CEO of KEXINO he's an author, lecturer, husband, and father; and one hell of a nice bloke. He lives in a world of his own in Strasbourg, France, tolerated by his wife and young son. Find out more about Gee at

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Comments 5

  1. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

    I agree with this Gee. Sometimes, it won’t do any good if you try to “force” people into buying your stuff. On the contrary, they may even be turned off by your hard selling or being overly pushy. In the end, it’s still all about the customers–because it’s still their money anyway.

    1. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

      Hi Cathy,

      I think that, for some industries at least, selling was seen as a dishonorable albeit necessary part of business. Salespeople were seen as being tricksters, hustlers – even liars. Selling got a bad rap – even if it were partly justified.

      I think that the current “selling without selling” trend can be traced back to all those door-to-door life assurance / double glazing / encyclopedia sales people that we’ve all come across.

      As consumers we’re fed up with canned pitches, scare tactics and “look how great we are” presentations that define and quantify us as little more than a revenue source. Today, if you want to get my business, you need to work for it…

      Thanks for your continued support!

  2. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha
    1. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

      Hi Doug.

      I’d be interested to know your experience on how open companies are at accepting your proposition. From my perspective many business owners we see are too afraid to even consider a new ‘funnel model’, regardless of whether or not they agree with the initial premise.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      1. Avatar for Gee Ranasinha

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