Taking an order when a client reaches out to you to place an order is order-taking, not selling. Asking the questions necessary to create value for that client, shape their order, and cause them to engage with you on a more strategic level is selling.
Skipping right to proposing a solution—even when your prospective client asks for a proposal—is not selling. It’s straight pitching. There is a time to pitch, and when you have done the work to put the pitch in context and win, pitching is part of selling.
Providing your prospective client with pricing because they asked for it is not selling. It’s giving up the opportunity to sell and is akin to transacting, as if there were no greater value than the product and no compelling differentiation. Pushing for a meeting that would better serve the prospect in helping them make a good decision is selling, and a lot of the time you need to sell a meeting to sell at all.
Replying to an unsolicited RFP is not selling. It is sometimes necessary, and it is mostly administrative work, but because there is no real interaction with a human being outside of the written word, it isn’t a conversation, and it isn’t selling. Doing the work to position yourself as the right partner before an RFP is selling, especially when you have shaped the primary questions that make up the RFP.
Avoiding the difficult conversations to not have to deal with conflict between what your prospective client wants and what is the right thing to do is not selling. The difficult conversations are important, and the fact that you have to change someone’s mind is why we call it selling.
The things that you might do to make selling easier and faster tend to slow things down and make things more difficult. Like any other profession, the best performers work on their effectiveness. That means doing what is right over what seems to be easier.