Close the deal, but stop the selling.  Selling is a default MO for solopreneurs and start-ups, but it’s still a sticky spot for many seasoned professionals.  Let’s look at why selling is soft-serve, what’s wrong with it’s recipe, and how to enjoy the real cream in your relationships and deals moving forward.

Selling Can Stink

Let’s start with the mindset.  Sellers are focused on getting something from a “target” audience.  I sure you love being targeted.  Think for a moment about how you typically respond to an obvious seller at a meeting, event or retail location.  If you’re like most folks, you probably look for a quick escape.  Selling is prone to be selfishly motivated, and well.. it can reek of cheap cologne.  People avoid sellers.  You want the deal, but don’t be a seller.  Stay tuned…

The Soft-Serve Selling Recipe

Typical “selling” is often like a soft-serve cone.  Have you ever wondered what’s in that little soft serve swirl?  Ironically, it’s full of air.   According to Wikipedia,

“Soft serve contains air, introduced at the time of freezing.  The amount of air alters the taste of the finished product.  It is generally accepted that the ideal air content should be between 33% and 45% of volume.  More than this and the product loses taste, tends to shrink as it loses air and melts more quickly than that with less air.” —

Selling can be full of air and feel artificial.   It’s often motivated by sales quota pressures, desire for income or status, or other self-focused motivations.   It’s not usually for the genuine benefit of the recipient.  It’s full of “air” – reasons we should buy – and now!  Selling for the sake of selling lacks substance because it’s about getting.

We tend to avoid sales people because we know they want something.  You definitely need sales.  So, how do you form relationships that will result in sales and profits without all the “sales pitching”?

Try A Single Scoop of Creamy Goodness

Highly successful entrepreneurs are not pedaling their cards, chasing people down the aisles or blowing a lot of “air” into fluffy interactions.  They are investing value and expertise into what I’ll call “single-scoop” conversations.  They’re building relationships.

They’re observant.  They listen and ask questions.  They help others and provide real solutions. They may speak to fewer individuals at an event, but what they say brings value, insight and promotes meaningful connections.  They aren’t trying to “sell” you on a product or service, but you’ll remember them… and probably trust their expertise as well.

If you want to enjoy the rewards of valuable relationships, approach them with a giving attitude.   Look for ways to offer help, connect people with resources, offer solutions (yours or others), and serve  well.  Serve with genuine interest in the well-being and success of others.

You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise. – Patricia Fripp

This approach requires a long-term view.  If you value relationships and invest in others, you will reap rewards.  From Sunday school to my dad’s garden, I remember being taught – “you don’t plant beans to get corn.”   You can’t serve up artificial, air-filled pitches and earn rich, valuable relationships.  Serve others intentionally and well.  You’ll be rewarded.

“Return on Relationship™… simply put – the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.” Ted Rubin, Return on Relationship.


Cindy is the founding President at 17blue Digital Marketing. She's passionate about helping businesses reach their goals and impact their communities.