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Without “Without Selling”

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
March 25, 2010

A cottage industry has sprung up to serve salespeople. Well, they don’t really serve salespeople. They really serve people who work in sales, who have job titles that indicate that they might be in sales, but who really aren’t salespeople.

This cottage industry markets to this group of non-salespeople-who-happen-to-work-in-sales with books, blog posts, webinars, and training seminars that are built around the idea that salespeople can gain customers without actually selling.

The cottage industry actually believes that they can teach non-salespeople-who-happen-to-work-in-sales to acquire customers without selling because they do it themselves. But what they do and what they teach is something far different (and something far less) than selling.

What Is Selling?

Selling is the creation of relationships that allow people and companies to come together to create something that didn’t before exist. It is the creation of mutually advantageous partnerships to do something worthwhile.

Selling is opening these relationships.

Selling is differentiating your offering in a crowded marketplace. It is telling your story and demonstrating the ways in which you help people and companies are superior to everybody else’s.

Selling is differentiating.

Selling is the exploration of the client’s needs. It is the diagnosis of their most complex business problems and their most pressing business needs. Selling is the discovery of how those problems can be solved and how the opportunities that exist can best be exploited.

Selling is diagnosing these needs and helping achieve business outcomes.

Selling is asking for and obtaining commitments to move the relationship forward and to work together.

Selling is asking for an obtaining these commitments.

Selling is a lot of things, but one thing it is not is easy. It takes a complex set of attributes and skills and whole lot of desire.

What Would You Go Without?

To be effective in sales, it is impossible to go without opening the relationships. Can you imagine selling without opening relationships?

To be effective in sales, you have to differentiate yourself and your company. Can you imagine selling without a differentiation strategy?

To succeed in sales, you have to be able to diagnose the client’s problems, understand their business and your business, and possess the business acumen to create something that solves problems. Can you imagine selling without?

Part of selling is asking for and obtaining commitments that move the business relationship forward. We call this closing, and it doesn’t connote anything negative. (Don’t worry, I won’t even ask. I know you can’t imagine)

There are non-salespeople-who-happen-to-work-in-sales who imagine they can sell without selling. And there is a cottage industry that preys on this weakness with marketing tactics that sell the dream that success in sales can be had without actually selling.

The cottage industry markets the idea that relationships can be opened without prospecting and deals made without actually asking for commitments. This is dishonest, it is harmful, and it damages both the person who would be a salesperson and the profession. It damages the salesperson by allowing them to retain the false idea that clients can be obtained without selling. It damages the profession by creating a group of would-be salespeople who are never trained and developed to sell.

The reason the cottage industry is so successful in acquiring customers using their marketing techniques is because they are simply preying on our would-be salespersons hopes and fears. They understand how to attract these would-be salespeople, but they never do anything to deliver real business results. This makes them something less than salespeople doing something less than selling.

The cottage industry is the picks and shovels gang selling the dream that your riches await, and that the gold will jump from the mine and into your pocket if you just buy their picks, their shovels, and their map. They are no different than the marketers that sell the idea that you can be thin without diet and exercise, and the idea that you can be rich without working hard for a long time.

The cottage industry treats selling like it is dishonorable while they market lies and sell false hopes that they have no ability to deliver.

Without ‘Without Selling”

If “without selling,” means making people believe something that isn’t true, if it is marketing false hope, then we are all better off sticking with selling.

If “without selling,” means taking money and never delivering the value promised, then selling is a far, far better choice.

Instead of allowing the dream of selling without selling to exist, we are better off teaching and training salespeople to sell and to create real value for their clients.

Personally, I can do without “without selling.”


There is no way to succeed in sales without selling. Selling requires opening relationships and prospecting, and it requires asking for and obtaining commitments. The cottage industry that markets the idea that success can be had without these are marketing a lie. The profession would do well to train their salespeople to sell instead of giving them false hope.

Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 25, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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