Quit Selling and Start a Conversation

Fri, May 4, 2020

Conversation, Marketing

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Von Reece logoToday’s post was triggered by this sage advice from Drew McLellan, whom I look forward to meeting next week at SOBCon07. Drew has been telling clients who complain that they’re not closing enough sales to toss their canned sales pitch and start listening to their customers.

That reminded me of something my dad, who was a gifted salesman, taught me. I never once heard my dad use what could be called a sales pitch. Instead, he just talked to people. Struck up conversations.

“The secret to sales,” he once told me, “is to find out what the customer wants and figure out how to help them get it.”

It dawns on me that my late father knew all about conversational marketing, and I can’t help but think he would be proud to know that I am, internetically speaking, following in his footsteps in this digital Age of Conversation. I’ll also be participating as Austin’s local host-speaker in a new series of regional social media workshops, called Starting the Conversation.

My story of inheriting the “early adopter gene” from my father is here, and I also wrote a tribute to him here.

The “little man” logo above was Dad’s trademark for more than 30 years. It was drawn circa 1958 by local artist and advertising agency owner Windy Winn, who became an institution in Austin’s graphic arts community.

Thanks for the advice — and the memories — Drew. And thanks for my conversational heritage, Dad.

This post was written by:

Connie Reece - who has written 152 posts on Every Dot Connects.

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6 Comments For This Post

  1. p0ps Says:

    Everything old is new again. Such a wise reminder, thanks for quoting your Dad, so simply.

  2. Chris Heuer Says:

    You are so right Connie. I wrote about this from a slightly different angle at the Community 2.0 conference in a post I called “The Zen of Selling Without Pitching“. Whenever you have your intentions directed towards closing the sale rather than providing value, it just feels different to the person you are supposed to be talking with.

    Whenever Robert Scoble talks about his days working at the photo store in Silicon Valley, this is the strongest point to the story. He sold more cameras not because of price or aggresiveness, but because he was knowledgeable and helpful.

    In today’s world, I still believe Context is King, but Intent is Everything.

  3. Connie Reece Says:

    p0ps - some advice is indeed timeless. Thanks for continuing the conversation here.

    And Chris, thanks for providing the link to your “Zen of Selling Without Pitching” post. I will definitely check that out.

    I agree that providing value is key, and knowledge is a definite value. I’m sure he probably read it in some sales book, but another quote of my dad’s is that “a well-educated customer is a happy customer.”

  4. Mark Silver Says:

    Amen to that, Connie. I think it’s interesting that Chris Heuer just mentioned “The Zen of Selling”- I just taught a seminar myself called “The Sacred Moment: How to talk to potential clients with integrity and heart, and still get paid.”

    Anyway… not wanting to pitch myself- just wanting to add to the string of ‘amens’ that say the conversation with the potential client is actually a sacred moment- if they are expressing their needs, they are feeling vulnerable. Listening, empathy, asking compassionate but focused questions, and extending genuine caring is what will help. Canned pitches, ‘closing techniques’ and trying to explain the solution is more than likely going to shut down and turn off someone who is already feeling vulnerable.

    So- yes yes yes! No matter how fast technology changes- wisdom stays constant. I enjoyed hearing about you learning from your father.

  5. Connie Reece Says:

    Mark, I like what you said about people who try to offer solutions before the problems are even presented. “Listening, empathy, asking compassionate but focused questions, and extending genuine caring is what will help.”

    I’ve read a number of blog posts recently about how customer service *is* your marketing program. Your comment here is a reminder that customer service actually starts before a sale. It’s about establishing a connection through sharing knowledge and building trust, then continuing that relationship by continuing to meet the customer’s expectations.

  6. Drew McLellan Says:


    I’m looking forward to meeting you as well!

    I think people smell a sales job about a mile away. And from that point on, your words are suspect because your self-serving intent is very evident.

    And really, isn’t selling more fun when you are actually helping someone? It seems so simple. And yet, we both know it’s the exception, not the rule.