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Posted by Todd Hockenberry ● Jul 12, 2021

Selling is Helping

Selling is helping.

This concept of selling is gaining acceptance as more and more companies realize that buyers hate most of the sales approaches used and taught today.

Buyers are obviously in control of much of the process, so the best strategy is to be helpful first, build trust, develop a relationship, and create a valuable buying experience. This is the way to grow revenue with digitally-enabled modern buyers.

helping the buyer is your product

The definition of helpful is to be ready to give help, be of service, be beneficial, to assist (someone or something), to contribute in some way to, to be well-meaning.

Synonyms of helpful are:

  • accessible
  • advantageous
  • cooperative
  • productive
  • supportive
  • sympathetic
  • useful
  • valuable

But helping always needs an objective when it comes to selling. What are we helping them do?


Succeed at what? Whatever their objectives are. Wherever they need to go to meet their goals. Whatever makes them successful with their customers.

A company's strategy is the answer to the question, “How are we going to succeed?” The ultimate goal of an inbound organization is to build great customer relationships by delivering an exceptional buying experience.

Why does helping work?

Helping first delivers the correct context to the buyer. Your team has a unique perspective and depth of experience that provides expertise to anyone you talk to.  If you believe helping is selling, the first thing you do is make sure the prospect is a good fit. You know the context of whom you help and whom you don't, and you don't try to help everyone but only the ones that are the best fits.

Helping means that your sales organization will not treat everyone the same but prioritize the good-fit prospects who have spent more time researching the problem on your website or on a competitor’s website. Your team will stay within the context of the best chance for everyone to succeed.

Helping inspires confidence in the outcomes of the solution. If you are trying to persuade a prospect, they know it. The more selfish your sales process is, the less people trust that the outcomes desired will be attained.

Has anyone ever asked you to buy by the end of the quarter so the salesperson could make their quota? Don't laugh; I just heard that one from a SaaS salesperson this week.

How about discounting? Does it inspire you to buy or start you wondering why they have to offer a discount if the value they are promising is actually going to materialize?

Helping means coaching to the result. Helpful salespeople and teams stay with the buyer until the results are obtained. It is not enough to close a sale; closing is really the opening, opening a process to achieve the desired objectives.

Helpful companies stick around to ensure results. Helpful salespeople act as a guide to improve the chances of success and help them become better at what they are doing, just like a good coach.

Who is the most helpful salesperson?

Salespeople must have a helpful attitude first and then apply a sales process to buyer interactions.

Empathetic people are helpful people. You must care enough to see the situation from the other person's point of view. You must understand the situation as they see it, not the way you want it to be.  If you are following a script or 7 step process, then you are not empathetic. You must meet people where they are and not where you hope they will be.

Empathy happens to the other person, you do not give it, but you cause it to happen. Empathy is what the other person experiences.

Can empathy be taught?

Yes. But changing deeply entrenched personal selfish habits is hard. You need to do some serious self-evaluation and observation to see where you act out of selfish motives or exhibit empathy. Empathy results from the personal habits you exhibit, so improving those personal disciplines will result in a more empathetic person.

Really listening to other people is a great place to start.

Listening is a signal to the other person and is the first requirement to building a relationship.

Other ways to deepen your level of empathy:

  • be curious, ask lots of questions
  • interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences
  • be present with the people in your life and really observe their behavior towards you
  • get out of your comfort zone and visit new places, attend new events, break your routines
  • ask people you trust if they feel empathy from you - empathy is not what you do but how they feel
  • read a lot; social media is so shallow and transient that it precludes much empathy, reading forces focus and concentration, which will deepen your understanding of people

How are salespeople helpful?

Put the other person first, their outcomes first before the sale. That is the gold standard of being helpful.

You need to show up and be where they want you to be. This idea is a core tenant of Inbound and why adopting an inbound strategy and mindset is so successful.

Helping prospects and customers is:

  • Helping them define their real issue, what they need and not what they say they want
  • Asking great questions
  • Digging deep and figuring out the root cause of the issue
  • Telling great stories with content that help them understand the options, issues, and expectations
  • Guiding them through the process at their pace
  • Showing them how to navigate through their own organization to arrive at the solution
  • Connecting the dots in terms of impact on other groups or strategies
  • Onboarding quickly and successfully
  • Knowing what roadblocks may come up and be ready to navigate them
  • Fun, be enjoyable to work with

Saying selling is helping is easy - we said this in our book Inbound Organization in 2018.

Doing it is the hard part.

Purchase the book Inbound Organization

Topics: Sales, Inbound Organization