If It's Not Real, It Won't Work: How Not to Sell

"Sorry to hear about your grandma, hope she makes a speedy recovery. Just let me know when is good for you, the best deals end Monday though."

That was what the car salesman said in his text message after I'd told him my grandma had been taken to hospital, was very unwell, and I didn't know when I'd be able to get back to the dealership to discuss options.

With that single text message, he lost my custom.

I understand it. I do understand it. In his world this is ok. Not only ok, but normal. In his world the focus is narrow. It's about closing the deal. Always closing the deal. Nothing exists outside of that. It's a short term view of life. Basic humanity has been lost. No real connection there. Just falsities. No matter what it looks like, it's all about the sale. 

In his world it's me and them. Them and us. It's separation every which way you look. It's about closing the deal to get the money which is about...what? Higher commission? A bonus? Not getting the sack? Top of the monthly sales leaderboard? Maybe not all that bad. Maybe it also means paying a mortgage off, food on the table for the family.

Nothing wrong with selling. It's a beautiful thing. It's a fun thing. An exchange. But when the deal is more important than the people - the human beings involved - there's a problem. 

I sell to people. I run a business so yes, there's selling involved. 

But there's a difference. A big one. Because in my world, the deal is never more important than the person I'm selling to. In my world, if someone tells me their grandma is in hospital I don't say I'm sorry and then slip in a nudge about a deal. 

Then a lovely sounding student from my old university calls me. She's studying the same subjects I did and wants to ask questions about what I did post-university. The database says I'm in education. Ha, I suppose I am, yes. I'm happy to talk to her. We chat. She seems nice. 

And then she says she wants to talk to me about the university "fund" and starts rattling off information about why the university needs regular gifts. It's all scripted, I can hear it in the lack of life force in every word and every breath. Passionate about helping the university raise funds. Thinks it's so important. Dead words. Nothing behind them. She finishes up: "So, would you be happy to pay £15 a month to the university?"

"No" I reply.

She asks me why and I ask her permission to be honest before explaining that reading a script is not a way to have someone (not a way to have me) agree to paying £15 a month to a university. I can hear the embarrassment in her voice. But it's not her fault. She's doing a job to get some extra money. Her manager has given her a script. She's been told to read it. Just read the script, that's all you have to do.

But no, that isn't all you have to do. 

In fact, it isn't even related to what you have to do.

Because what you have to do is this:

You have to CARE. You have to actually freakin' care. You have to care about what you're selling and you have to care about who you're selling to. 

So no money for the car salesman. And no money for the university. Because if it's not real, it just won't work. 

Love and courage,

Leah