S-e-l-l can’t be a 4-letter word in business

2010 Update: I made the decision to bring Say “Alaka‘i” here to Talking Story in late May of 2010 when the Honolulu Advertiser, where the blog previously appeared, was merged with the Star Bulletin (Read more at Say “Alaka‘i” is Returning to the Mothership).

Therefore, the post appearing below is a copy of the one which had originally appeared there on January 27, 2009, so we will be able to reference it in the future when the original url it had been published on is no more…


S-e-l-l can’t be a 4-letter word in business

How did “sell” get to be such a 4-letter word in Hawai‘i?

I’ve been stuck in that opinion for a long time too. In my once-held view, “sell” ranked up there with a lot of other four letter words, like “push,” “rude,” “hard” and “yuck.” I didn’t want to be the person who was behind any hard sell pushed upon anyone else; there just had to be a better way to help them buy, and get them to buy.

However make no mistake about it; I still wanted someone to buy.

Much as we now are denouncing consumerism, fully determined to be more realistic and better grounded with our recessionary buying habits, this very simple fact remains: We all have to make a living. The work we do for a living depends on someone being willing to pay us for what we do, and we’ve got to get out and sell it. We’ve got to illustrate our value to the people who are in a position to buy it and pay for it. We’ve got to articulate our worth well, and stand behind what we offer proudly.

This may be one of the toughest things facing those who are in customer service today. We are all getting so “nice,” so understanding of why others are hanging on to their dollars, waiting for rock-bottom discounting, that we aren’t selling, and we aren’t helping customers buy —people who are prospective buyers wanting to buy, and who are willing and able to be our customers.

Do you have customers who are frustrated because buying from you is an ordeal? Is “giving them their space” to “decide for themselves” really a cop-out? How can a customer decide well when they are dealing with limited information because we’ve gotten so poor at trumpeting features and benefits? Not selling is not great when there are people who want to buy and we aren’t making it easy for them to do so.

If you are hiding behind “nice” and hesitating to be the enthusiastic, fully informed and engaged service provider others want you to be, you may be turning N-i-c-e into a 4-letter word too.

That would be tragic.