Think about some of your favorite stores. Beyond the merchandise they have, what do you love about going there? Odds are your favorite stores became your favorites because of the experience you had there. So you go back again and again.  

Now, forget about your favorite stores for a minute. If I asked you to describe the ideal encounter with a salesperson, what would you envision? Is it the salesperson who follows you around on the floor, repeatedly asking you if you need help or interjecting their opinion on every item you look at? Or would it be walking in the store and having someone introduce themselves and ask how they can help you? If you say, “I’m just looking” – which is universal code for leave me alone – do they? Are they around to answer any questions you might have, but otherwise leave you explore?

Let’s translate that to when you call a business looking for information. Does the operator read from a script, barely letting you get a word in edgewise because he or she has two specials you need to know about? Or are you immediately connected to someone who can either answer your questions or get you to the right source for the answers you need?

The truth is, no one wants to be sold. When you hear the word salesman, what images pop into your mind? The stereotypical used car salesman with the “you can drive it off the lot today” sort of sales pressure? I don’t care who you are or what you’re in the market for, no one welcomes that sort of salesperson. Why do we react so badly?  

Bad salespeople:
• Want you to buy today.
• Are relentless.
• Talk too much about themselves and their product/service.
• Don’t listen.
• Make us feel as they though they only care about the sale. 

When you look at that list, no wonder we run for cover. If your favorite store had that sort of sales force, I suspect it would no longer be your favorite store.

Now, go grab your brochure, pull up your website and eavesdrop on some of your sales calls. See any similarities? All too often, marketing materials and messages bear an uncomfortable resemblance to that pushy sales guy. We’re so anxious to make sure the prospect knows how amazing our stuff is that we oversell, and the reality is, no one wants to be sold. Ever.

What you love about your favorite stores and your favorite brands is that they’re helpful. Depending on your needs and the type of purchase, helpful comes in the form of convenience or providing you relevant information.  

Helpful might be that you can try as many styles and sizes as you’d like and return the ones you don’t want for free (like Zappos), or it might be a robust website that really allows consumers to educate themselves long before they speak to a salesperson, like River Pools and Spas, which has more than 800 pages of content and offers it all for free.

You will sell more if you sell less.  

Be helpful. Be someone I can trust. Be approachable without putting your hand in my pocket looking for my wallet, and I will come to rely on you. When I am actually ready to buy, whom do you think I’m going to buy from? You.

Want to explore this concept in depth? This whole idea of how smart marketing is all about help, not hype, is the core message in Jay Baer’s new book called “Youtility.” 

Want to be your customers’ favorite and attract many more just like them? Be their Youtility.