This article suggests a reframing of the typical ‘customer-centric’ selling approach. It involves shifting the focus away from the customer only and towards a more holistic view of all stakeholders involved in a buying decision: the seller, the customer, the community and mother earth.
A reframe creates sustainable buying decisions for the generation that cares: for ourselves, our clients and the planet.
Before the introduction of money, men traded goods and services using the bartering system.
Goods were exchanged for food, tea, weapons, and spices. The history of bartering dates all the way back to 6000 BC.
So yes, Daniel H. Pink was right to call his book To Sell is Human. It’s human, and since it’s human, it starts with an “inside job.”
The Traditional Customer-Centric Selling Approach
There are many selling techniques out there, and the common thread among them is the focus on the customer throughout the entire sales process.
These techniques involve taking the time to understand the customer’s situation and needs and then offering solutions or recommendations that meet those needs.
That’s the theory. And per se, there’s nothing wrong with that.
But that’s also exactly where most of the advice about sales fails, and it’s taught as a skill the seller needs to learn to convince the buyer.
The typical sales conversation is taught in a linear and one-directional way:
- step one: discover the problem;
- step two: make them see the gap;
- step three: offer the solution;
- step four: overcome objections;
- step five: close the deal.
As the seller, you must do everything—with willpower and skill.
But if we only focus on the doing—by making our way through these steps—then we completely forget the conscious client.
The conscious client doesn’t just buy with his head but also with his heart.
Today’s conscious client is smart, has access to all the information online, doesn’t care about advertising, wants to be heard and seen, and wants to buy from brands that care about more than just profit!
Selling is a conversation, not a unidirectional download
Selling is a conversation where the BEING matters just as much as the DOING.
From Customer-Centric Selling to ‘Selling Like We’re Human’
The idea of ‘Selling Like We’re Human’ is to reframe the traditional customer-centric approach and look at selling from a different perspective.
Instead of focusing solely on the client’s needs, ‘Selling Like We’re Human’ looks at selling as an inside job. Inside you, the customer-centric seller.
Humane Selling starts by understanding yourself, your values and your definition of success to resonate with clients on a human-to-human level.
By looking inward first, your brand can create a more meaningful connection with your ideal clients.
This self-reflection helps your brand to align its messaging and marketing efforts with its core values and purpose, which can make it more attractive and relevant to your ideal clients.
Overall, starting with yourself first builds stronger, more authentic, and more meaningful relationships with your clients.
How to Get Started with a Customer-Centric Selling Approach
The best way to start building a customer-centric selling approach is to take a look at yourself — your sales mindset, your attitude toward sales, your own worth and your confidence.
In order to work on your new selling perspective, may I suggest you journal on a few questions?
Here’s an excerpt from my adult coloring book ‘Mandalas & Selling’: 25 Stress Relieving Mandala Designs & 25 Beautiful Questions To Sell your Services From Within.
- Which preconceived ideas of selling do you want to let go of?
- If you made no sales at all this year, what would you still have that would be of value?
- Which personality trait that you thought was a weakness could actually be your selling superpower?
This will help you to feel really grounded in your human BEING so that you can have these conversations from a place of worthiness and not a place of manipulation.
Sell Only to Ideal Clients
Selling is much less scary if you only sell to the right people at the right time. By respecting these rules, you will only engage in Gentle Sales Conversations.
Gentle Sales Conversations are:
- Not one-directional; they are real conversations between two humans.
- They are gentle because there is no manipulation or convincing.
- They are based on curiosity, empathy and perspective-taking.
In a Gentle Sales Conversation, we’re purely exploring the questions:
- Is this product or service the right solution?
- Does it come at the right time for our client?
To find answers, it is vital to understand the client’s journey.
Customer-Centric Client Journey
A client journey is the time period from the moment a client first hears about your service until the point at which they find themselves on a call with you or make a buying decision online.
The client journey typically includes various touchpoints, such as seeing one of your Social Media posts, visiting your website, attending an event, or hearing you on a podcast.
The goal of the customer-centric client journey is to create a positive and seamless experience for your client and guide them towards buying decisions.
In recent years the term ‘Sales Funnel’ has become increasingly popular, especially in the online marketing world.
Create the Gentle Sales Path
But what if instead of calling it Sales Funnel, we name our way of getting to know our prospects the ‘Gentle Sales Path’?
Do you feel that the energy is different?
A gentle sales path is different for every client, and it’s not forceful (like a funnel), but instead, it empowers the client to make their own buying decision.
To create a gentle sales path, we create different signposts that help our prospects find out more about us and our services.
Signposts can be various things: a free ebook, a blog post, a podcast episode, a speaking event etc.
You get the idea.
Your prospects will then have different opportunities to get to know you and your solution along their journey.
When they get on a call with you, you barely have to do any selling – they are naturally ready to buy from you.
A Customer-Centric Sales Path that is Better for Well-being
The reframe I’m suggesting is a holistic approach that creates more sustainable buying decisions for the generation that cares: for ourselves, our clients and the planet.
Selling Like We’re Human comes from a place of well-being, abundance and peace within ourselves. It’s the opposite of an anxiety-driven society that feels like they’re not good enough, don’t sell enough and are not worthy enough.
Selling Like We’re Human makes our clients feel empowered and smart, like they are being heard and seen. They feel like real humans, not just walking wallets or numbers.
Selling Like We’re Human considers that we have only one planet and that we need to take good care of its resources.
It questions the capitalistic approach of ‘growth at all costs’ and suggests a more regenerative approach that reconnects us with the source.
Tips for Successful Customer-Centric Selling (or ‘Selling Like We’re Human’)
Be Consistent with Your Marketing
Marketing is the way to accompany ideal clients on their gentle sales path.
Ideally, you have various opportunities where people hear and see you.
There are several ways to be consistent with your marketing:
- Use Consistent Branding Elements
Use the same logo, color palette, and font in all your marketing materials. Branding helps to create a cohesive look and feel for your brand.
- Have a Consistent Message and Become Known for a Few Topics
Make sure that the message you convey in your marketing efforts is consistent and aligns with two to a maximum of four key topics. Messaging helps to establish your brand’s identity and position in the market.
- Be Consistent with Your Marketing Channels
Choose the marketing channels most effective for your business and stick with them. This will help you build a strong presence on those channels and reach your ideal clients. I am not in favor of the general advice that says ‘you should be everywhere’.
- Use a Consistent Tone
The tone of your marketing messages should be consistent with your brand’s personality. Tone helps to create a sense of authenticity and helps your audience feel connected to you and your brand.
A ‘Selling Like We’re Human’ approach is based on honesty and transparency.
Be ‘human’ in all your communications, share with vulnerability and never overpromise on results.
There are several ways to be transparent in your business:
- Share Your Values
Share your values and mission with your audience. Honest sharing helps them understand your motivations and what drives your business. When sharing your values, it’s much better to ‘walk your talk’ and, for example, write about the charities you support rather than just listing your values in a post.
- Communicate Openly
Make sure to communicate openly and transparently with your existing clients as well as potential clients. Be clear about expectations, and don’t overpromise on results you can’t guarantee.
- Be Transparent About Your Pricing:
Make sure to clearly communicate the prices of your products or services. Avoid hidden fees or surcharges.
‘Selling Like We’re Human’ encourages you to slow down the sales process.
Nobody wants to be sold to, yet so many people are still selling the pushy way.
This new approach is based on creating a relationship of trust with your prospects so that they feel comfortable buying from you.
If you are being too pushy and rushing people to buy, you are not allowing them to make their own decision.
Here are two main ways to practice patience in the sales process:
- Listen to Your Ideal Clients
Make sure to listen carefully to your prospects and understand their needs and concerns. Listening helps you tailor the conversation to their specific needs and allow them to feel heard and understood.
- Give Them Space
Don’t rush your prospects into making a decision. Allow them the time and space they need to consider their options and make a decision that is right for them.
My Conclusion on Customer-Centric Selling
Customer-centric selling is about selling from human to human.
To ‘Sell Like We’re Human’, we need to let go of the idea that selling is just about the customer and just about DOING things that convince the customer to buy.
Instead, we need to start with ourselves, our BEING, to truly step into our shared humanity.
And often we also need to work on our relationship to money!
If you’d like to learn more about ‘Selling Like We’re Human’, check out my bestselling book with the same title – or start by downloading the first chapter for free.
If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy:
- Blog Post: Unlocking the Power of Human Marketing: Strategies for Success
- Book: Selling Like We’re Human
- Podcast episode: Selling is Human
Other Resources You Might Enjoy
- Manifesto: The Humane Business Manifesto (no opt-in).
- Creed: The Humane Marketing Creed (no opt-in).
- The Humane Marketing Glossary: marketing words we love
- The 1-Page Marketing Plan (email opt-in with 7 email prompts to help you think about the 7Ps of Humane Marketing in your business).
- The Humane Marketing Circle, our community of Humane Marketers.