You probably have one of two sales philosophies. Do you know which one it is?  Read on.

You know about sales tactics – lead generation, closing techniques, cold calling. And you know about sales strategies – cross-selling, identifying decision-makers, value propositions. And while some sales leaders may differ in their thinking about what constitutes a sales tactic and a sales strategy, neither one of them is what I call a sales philosophy.

You and the Customer

The factor determining your sales philosophy is simple: it’s how you think about your relationship to the customer.

One philosophy views the customer as an “Other.” Let’s call that view “Otherhood”. By that philosophy, customers may sometimes be your friends – or they may sometimes be your enemies. But they are fundamentally different from you, the seller. They are the Other.

The second philosophy views the customer as an extension of the buyer. Let’s call that view “Brotherhood”. By that philosophy, the bonds linking customer and seller are far stronger than those separating them. Customers are fundamentally linked to you, the seller. They are the Brother.

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By the Otherhood philosophy, sales is about action and counter-action.  The customer raises an objection – you work on objection-handling. They have a need – you seek to fill it. They prefer your price to be low – you prefer it to be high.  You are trained to negotiate, and so are they; a good negotiation, by this philosophy, is one where both sides end up compromising.

The customer doesn’t wish you harm, but they also benefit from the struggle between you and your competitors. They encourage that struggle, through RFPs and auctions. The customer creates purchasing departments and processes. They demand that you sign contracts clearly delineating your obligations as a seller, and reserving their rights via legal clauses and insurance commitments.

In the world of Otherhood, sales management is heavily about motivation – getting salespeople to keep up the pressure, go back for more, always be closing, and get that quota. The language of Otherhood is heavily influenced by sports and military metaphors, from ‘no pain no gain’ to ‘pitch the prospect’ to ‘bottom of the ninth.’

The Otherhood philosophy of sales is at root about Customer vs. Vendor; buyer vs. seller; Team A vs. Team B. It’s all about opposition. While Otherhood sellers know that you need to make the pie bigger than arguing over who gets a slice, nonetheless it’s about splitting up a pie. What the seller gains, the buyer loses, and vice versa.

The Otherhood philosophy of sales is about competition – competition between you and your customer.  And the goal of Otherhood selling – obviously, so it seems – is to sell.

But there is another approach – to find out more, watch the video below.

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By the Brotherhood sales philosophy, sales is about virtuous circles, and about finding common rhythms. What’s long-term good for the seller is long-term good for the buyer. By contrast, what’s good for one but not for the other is unsustainable. If one plus one only equals two, then both parties are wasting their time.

In the Brotherhood view of sales, sales management is about reminding salespeople to see the customer viewpoint, to empathise, to see the customer’s customers. The language of Brotherhood sales is about collaboration, transparency, long-term prospective, and envisioning alternative realities.

The Brotherhood philosophy of sales is at root about relationships, synergies, and collaboration. You don’t get ahead by beating your Brother – you both get ahead by helping each other. If you’re ever arguing over a piece of pie, you know by definition you’re having the wrong discussion. The Brotherhood Philosoph of sales is a out collaboration between you and your customer. And the goal of Brotherhood selling is to make things better for your customer.

But wait, you may say: if the goal of Brotherhood selling isn’t to get the sale, then what kind of selling is that, and how can it possibly work better than an approach whose goal is, straightforwardly, to increase sales?

The answer is that in Brotherhood selling, the sale is a byproduct – not a goal.  And the ultimate irony is – Brotherhood salespeople end up selling more than Otherhood sellers. Want to know why? Ask their customers.  Most customers prefer to deal with sellers who have the buyer’s interest at heart, rather than their own.  And the natural result of that preference is – to give the sale to the Brotherhood seller.

And what about you? Which is your Sales Philosophy?