The Non-Salesperson’s Guide to Selling – Part One

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
February 4, 2011

I never wanted to be a salesperson. I had a much more interesting plan, and I was truly enjoying myself pursuing it.

Before my first sales manager convinced me to go into sales, I was already winning clients. But I would never have called what I was doing sales. I would have resented your calling me a salesperson. When my sales manager asked me how I acquired the clients that I had acquired, I told him that I just called some people and tried to find a way to help them; some said no, and some of them let me help.

Ultimately, this is what salespeople do.

Change What You Think Sales Means

If you are a non-salesperson that needs to sell, the first thing you need to do is to change what you believe about “selling.”

You believe that salespeople are slick and insincere; with very few exceptions, they aren’t. Being slick, insincere, and untrustworthy generally hasn’t been effective for decades.

You believe that salespeople persuade other people to purchase things that they don’t really want or that they don’t really need. This also isn’t true. Salespeople work hard to understand what their dream clients need. They make sure that are selling something that will benefit their dream client. Not doing so isn’t effective, and it means lost sales and lost credibility.

These are unhealthy beliefs, and they will prevent you from doing as well as you might otherwise.

Try on another set of beliefs, like salespeople have to be sincere about what they are doing to succeed, and salespeople have to work to understand and deliver exactly what their clients need. These beliefs are far more accurate and far more prevalent.

Just Ask Them

For non-salespeople who need sales, your reluctance to embrace your inner-salesperson is caused by your feeling bad asking people for what you need.

You have trouble asking people for their time. You also struggle to ask them to buy from you. You think it feels dirty, that it is somehow beneath you, or that it costs your credibility (some non-salespeople with salespeople titles fail for the same reason).

Salespeople that can’t ask for and obtain commitments (or cold call), have skinny babies. As a small businessperson, an entrepreneur, or a solopreneur, you also will have skinny babies if you can’t sell.

When you are engaged in a conversation with your dream client, they already know why you are talking to them and what you want. If they were going to be offended by your asking for what you need, they wouldn’t be spending their time with you.

The problem you have asking is that you don’t believe you deserve what you are asking for. You don’t believe that you are good enough, or that you have earned the right to ask for it.

If you are sincere, and if you will deliver what you promise, it’s okay to ask. I promise.

You don’t use tips, tricks, tactics, or anything sneaky that you might find in an old sales book. You just ask. You say something like: “I’d like to explore the possibility of working with you in this area, because I believe we can really help. Can we make an appointment to talk more about this next week?”

Or, as reluctant as you might be to close for the sale, it’s really nothing more than saying some derivation of: “I’d really like to work with you. I am ready to start doing what we’ve discussed. Is there anything else you need to see from us before you would be comfortable moving forward? I’d love to get started.”

Just ask.

First change what you believe it means to sell. It doesn’t mean tricking people by being slick or persuading them with tactics or gimmicks. Then change the actions you take after you try on a healthier set of beliefs. Call some people who you believe you can help. Then try your damnedest to help them.


If you are a non-salesperson who is reluctant (or loathe) to sell, what meaning to you attach to sales and selling?

Think about the people you know who are professional salespeople. Do they really fit the stereotypes that disappeared decades ago?

What are the sales activities that you resist taking? Is it primarily bothering people or asking for commitments? Think deeply about why you believe you have trouble asking. Is it because you somehow feel unworthy?

Think about the ideas about which you are the most passionate. Do you have trouble talking to people about those ideas and asking them for their commitments? How can you translate that same passionate feeling to what you do in your business?

Sales, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
February 4, 2011
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