Do You Assume People Don’t Want To Buy?

Sep 2, 2020 | Sales

Tara McMullin is a writer, podcaster, and producer who explores what it takes to navigate the 21st-century economy with your humanity intact. Click here to support this work.

A few weeks back, I shared that Sean and I went shopping for some kayaks.

I was nervous about the purchase because I knew it was going to be a significant sum to drop all at once. But I really wanted to have the freedom of owning our own equipment and I was prepared to make it happen.

Our boat man, Dale, walked us all around the showroom and talked with us about the kayaks he was recommending based on where we wanted to paddle and how often we wanted to get out on the water.

Then, he walked us straight into the office.

I am not kidding you when I say that he never asked us whether we were ready to buy that day.

He never asked us if we needed pricing or more time to consider.

He just assumed we were there to make a purchase.

So we kept taking the next step: figuring out what rig we needed for the top of our car (which ended up being the most expensive part!), then what colors we wanted, then how we’d (eventually) take delivery of our shiny new boats.

Finally, he handed over the order to the office manager who totaled it all up and asked how much we’d like to pay that day as a deposit. I handed over my credit card and the deed was done.

Now, there is absolutely a reading of this story that makes this sound a little presumptive or even pushy.

But I never felt like I was being pushed or that Dale wouldn’t have been totally fine with us saying, “Thank you, we just need one more day to talk it over and we’ll call you ASAP.”

I just felt like Dale knew we were there to buy some kayaks and was acting accordingly.

And that felt nice, honestly.

I didn’t have to convince him we were serious and he didn’t have to convince us that we wanted some kayaks.

I know there is a lot of fear and anxiety for small business owners when it comes to selling your products or services.

What I’ve observed over the years—and what I’ve experienced for myself—is that that fear and anxiety often grows out of an assumption that people do not already want to buy what it is that you’re selling. That your job—when it comes to sales—is convincing people they want or need your thing.

If we assume that we’ve created something people don’t want, then asking for the sale is understandably terrifying!

How would your approach to selling be different if you assumed people want what you’ve created?

Would you reach out to be more proactively? Would you send a few more emails the next time you had a sales campaign? Would you share your offers more enthusiastically on your social media channels? Would you be more willing to close a sale on a call?

Or maybe, the actions themselves wouldn’t be all that different—but your attitude would shift. You wouldn’t be expecting rejection. Instead, you’d expect to be met with an enthusiastic “yes!”

At this point you might be thinking, “Sure, that works great for buying some kayaks but what I do is different. People don’t just walk into ‘my store’ ready to buy.” 

Yes, what you do is different—unless you sell kayaks, in which case: very cool.

But this is the beautiful thing about marketing and sales today.

While you might not have a store front and you might not even sell a product or service that people know exists, you are constantly creating the environment that makes it easy for people to know they want to buy.

Every email you send out, every post you put up on social media, every article you write, every video you produce, every podcast episode you publish…

…it’s all helping to make sure people are ready and willing to buy when you’re ready and willing to make an offer.

(That might not be why you’re doing it—but that is the effect it can have.)

But if you never go from creating content, helping people figure out what they want to do next, and being of service to actually walking them into the office and totaling up the bill, you won’t make the sale.

So instead of marketing and selling with the assumption that people need to be convinced to buy, doing your thing assuming they do want to buy and see what happens.

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