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Tuesday, August 3, 2010


In deflecting a compliment from someone who claimed that I was the best salesperson within a particular group, I modestly (false modesty is great fun) said, “I don’t know that you’re right, but I do sell differently. Actually I sell backwards.”

What is selling backwards? Instead of assuming that the buyer involved will be so taken with the item/service available once the virtues are laid out, it could be better to ask them what they need and how they accomplish their business goals. They may offer a roadmap to the desired sale, rather than having to use a shotgun approach hoping to hit upon the magic word. It can also reduce wasted time, not everyone is a prospect. Interested prospects would like you to spend more time with them.

[Below is what I took out because it started becoming too much]

Well, first let’s describe selling forward. I know what my widget does and why it is so great, so I want to tell you and in doing so you will be so smitten that you’ll buy it. Or you won’t! It may not be what you need or you may not make the connection. So selling forward is taking all the attributes of my widget and throwing them at you, knowing that there can’t be any earthly reason not to buy something so great. If you don’t want to buy it that is termed an objection. An objection is something to be overcome, because the customer doesn’t want to do what the salesperson wants them to do, namely buy. So in selling forward I explain what is so good about my widget and if I don’t get a positive reaction it is the buyer not understanding how much they need what I have. I now have an objection and my job is to plow over it regardless of its validity. My widget is so necessary to all that any objection is groundless.

Then what is selling backward?

First consider the way products and services are brought out to be sold. They are developed by someone, maybe a project manager. Boy do I LOVE what I create, don’t you! Maybe too much. I know all the things that are better and fit me perfectly about whatever I made and think anyone who doesn’t see what I see must be blind. Someone needs to tell them what is so great about my stuff so that they’ll want it. If they can’t convince them then there must be something wrong with them.


Thoughthebrowser said...

Reading your post, I get the idea that traditional "selling forward" must come from sales management and sales professionals driving old cars. Surely all the top producers understand "selling backwards."

Unknown said...

Your point about listening before selling is terrific. It might even give you a new angle to present to others. Often I get my best approaches by from my buyers!