Are you a giver or a taker in sales? Better Selling, Value, Helping Buy

Are You A Giver or A Taker in Sales?

If you run a business, you probably spend a lot of time “fending off”, or, at least ignoring crappy sales attempts – to be blunt.

I say this with love for my profession of sales – which I’m obsessed with improving – as I too am now fending off crappy sales attempts. Though, they do provide the bottomless pit of blog material.

I’m evaluating a lot of programs, software, and solutions, both for myself and for my clients. Which means I have the privilege of being on the end of many sales calls and I have noticed a pretty big theme on the buying end of the experience:

Sellers expect me to educate THEM on how to sell to ME!

This is frustrating. So frustrating. I know their job is to develop leads to sell their product. But they’re looking to me to do the heavy lifting. They want to take my time without having earned it. They want me to listen to them without having given me any reason to believe they have value.

If you are doing it right, SELLING is the first place you add value to your customers.

How do you know if you’re doing it right?
Are you giving or are you taking?

Here’s what GIVING looks like:

Give until your customers believe.

Give until they believe you are there to help them.

Give until they understand that helping is what you do.

Give 5 minutes of your time to find out a minimum of 3 things about your customer.

Make 5 attempts to connect and engage with them where they spend their time online.

Give them 5 things that help them understand their problems, their solutions, their options, or your industry.

Read 5 things that they’ve written to know their currency and give you context.

Now, here’s what TAKING looks like:

You meet someone in person or connect via LinkedIn and then immediately message or email something like this

“Hi Shawn, nice to meet you at BLAH BLAH BLAH. I’d love to grab coffee next week to get to know you better and see if we have any solutions you might need.”


You stop at a booth at a conference and after the (terrible) opening question of “Who do you work for?” the response is “Cool, let me scan your badge and show you a demo”. Effectively, they have ZERO contextual information about you or your level of interest but because they have scanned your conference badge with your name and email attached (it is cool technology!) you now are going to end up in their leads list.

Okay, so this is a true story about a conference just a week ago so what I have experienced in the 5 days following is: call, voicemail, email, call, voicemail, email, call, voicemail, email, call, voicemail, email . . . you get the drift. NOT A SINGL E SHRED of helpfulness in any email or voicemail. This is the exact follow-up email with a 5-word variance in each voicemail:

Hi Shawn,

It is my understanding that you expressed interest in OurTechProduct with a colleague of mine at a recent the Sales Machine NYC Salesforce trade show.  When are you available to get on a call so we can see if we’re a good fit?  

Thank you,

Joe Tryless

Same message, over and over. No effort to change it up, surprise me, or compel me. And I have been silent, not responding because the Demo did not thrill me and I’m not sure what their business did or that I need them but you can bet that if I were interested, I’d look it up and find out pretty much everything I needed to know on my own.

This sales rep didn’t connect on LinkedIn, not even a profile view. No follow or opt into blog, no comments on website, twitter, et cetera.

In the 10 minutes it had taken him to make 5 phone calls, leave 5 voicemails and shoot off 5 emails, he could have checked my LinkedIn publishes, visited my website and read the “about me” section, or checked out my tweets – anything to understand what I do and how his product might apply.

That would have given him the keys to unlocking my time and engaging me in a conversation.

Nope. That’s just taking. That’s lazy. And that’s crappy selling.

Take my time to educate YOU on how to sell to ME? Nope. No. Uh uh. Not going to happen. Pass.

Give to your customers. Give them value. Give them help. Show them you deeply respect their time and WANT their business.

I know I would appreciate that respect and value – that HELP to make decisions.

That’s what selling is – helping people make decisions. You need to start there first. Seek to understand, seek to help, seek to provide value.

Thoughtless “taking” isn’t going to cut it. Try GIVING instead and see how much more progress you make.

Until next time, stop hoping, start SELLING!



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Straightforward, practical and perhaps slightly cheeky, Shawn Karol Sandy's innate gift is helping people find new ways to solve old problems, unique ways to approach new problems and helping businesses re-invent themselves and their sales strategies. With Bold and Brave thought leadership and Clear Action Plans, her impact on business is Measurable and Meaningful and will lead your sales revolution to growth and revenue goals.

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