Certainly is puzzling, but let me share my experiences and thoughts on this rule.
I remember my very first active role in working on a major new business development activity with a very large international airline. I never thought that I had the qualities of a salesperson. Growing up in a family of teachers and engineers, I picked up qualities such as paying attention to details and learning new things. Maybe that is what made me into a Boolean person. I saw things as black and white and expected data and substantiation for everything I did in my life. I also had a misconception about sales that it is all about relationships and what you sell (price, value, and quality of the product). My first experience simply changed a lot of my perceptions and understanding about sales and made me believe in myself. It fueled my confidence and gave me the torque and momentum to excel in winning the confidence of the customer and the by-product happens to be closing a sale. I learnt that the number one rule in sales is not to sell or not come out as trying to sell. This certainly holds true at least in the business we at Revenue Technology Services are in.
Any text book or authority on sales will probably tell you that closing a sale or wining a deal depends on a number of factors such as price, value, product quality, service around it, and brand – in no particular order. While these are very important, all these things being equal, in my experience the key factor that pushes customers over the edge to say ‘YES’ is trust (a combination of integrity, knowledge, and expertise). I have walked into several Request for Proposal (RFP) response presentations and have experienced something interesting. People warm up to you very quickly the moment they realize that you know what you are talking about, the confidence you have, and your ability to tell the truth about what you/your company/product can or cannot do. In other words, selling happens in a very subtle way in my opinion. That is probably why many companies today don’t have titles in business cards that read as VP-Sales or Director of Sales. They call themselves VP - Business Development or Business Counselor.
By no means am I downplaying other attributes and factors associated with winning a deal. But my experience overwhelmingly shows that integrity, knowledge, and confidence creates trust which leads to a feeling of partnership and eventually results in winning a new customer and retaining an existing customer. I personally believe in the above philosophy and our people at Revenue Technology Services embrace this as well as they work with our current and future customers.
I am sure you have your own perceptions and opinions about this idea. And you will agree that there is no single formula of success. I welcome your thoughts and feedback on what you consider your number one rule when selling.