In the course of pursuing sales success, it is often tempting to focus on learning tactics or gimmicks to gain control of the outcome of a sales call or conversation. We seek ways to “close”. The puppy dog close, the alternate option close, the assumptive close or the left handed turkey leg close are all tactics or tricks designed to push towards a specific conclusion to the conversation, a sale. My problem with teaching or learning tactics by themselves is that they are not sitting on a sound foundation.

I prefer to focus my learning on core principles, really locking those in and then using them as a guideline for any and all tactics I use in sales. All the best business and sales books I love teach fundamental principles first, and techniques that derive from those principles.

I believe that the first core fundamental mistake sales people make about a sales conversation is to view the prospect as the opponent. That thinking leads to the whole sales calls being like a chess game, winning being defined by “luring” or “trapping” the prospect into buying. Good sales conversations are not a confrontation, they are a collaboration.

Accept the idea that your sales conversations, from cold calls to final negotiations are a collaboration. You and your prospect are working on something together, cooperating to get to one of several possible outcomes. All of you tactics become focused on getting to one of those outcomes in an efficient and respectful manner. The question that usually pops into minds at this point is, “How can I collaborate on getting them to buy if they are resisting buying?”.

That’s a good question, and you may not like the answer. Even if you like the answer, management may not like the answer at all.

The purpose of a sales conversation is NOT to make a sale. It is to determine if there is a match between what you sell and what your prospect needs. That is the collaboration. Exploring the situation to make a simple decision together on proceeding or not proceeding.

One of the reasons this fundamental shift in thinking is so impactful is because it makes all questioning and discussion based on finding the truth of the situation. Is your product or service needed? While this core principle is scary to sales managers, who often embrace the idea of an aggressive sales positioning (Close the sale), all the science shows that more sales come from approaching the conversation with the mission of finding a fit.

That’s because of another fundamental truth. People hate to be sold, but they love to buy.