Cobbles IcesMost sales processes assume that you have what the customer wants.  Or, you can convince them that they want whatever you have.  Or, that your product or service can be made to fit whatever their needs are.

When I state it that way, the fallacy is obvious.  Yet we continue to approach sales with this mentality.

You say you want food that’s gluten-free?  Well, uh, maybe these rolls don’t have much gluten in them.  Not satisfied?  Well, I can sell you a salad.  Not what you’re looking for?  But it’s such a fantastic salad!  You should really want it!

How much do you appreciate being treated like that as a customer?  Stinks, huh?

Now, despite how wonderful your products and services are, they don’t do everything.  They don’t solve every problem, and they won’t satisfy everyone.  It’s just not possible.

Even if someone is interested in what you have, that doesn’t mean you can satisfy them.  They may have been attracted to your sign because of the coloring, or they misunderstand what you do.

The better approach is to treat their satisfaction as the primary goal.  If they’ll be more satisfied by not buying anything from you, that’s a good thing!  Even refer them to one of your competitors who can better serve them.

Call it karma, call it reputation, whatever.  When you’re generously helping each person to become happier, they’ll remember it.  They might come back next year.  They might send a friend your way.  But whatever they do, you’ll never be able to predict or measure it.

Explain what you do, realize that there’s no fit here, and help each person to take their next step toward satisfaction.

You may even have to say, “don’t buy from me!”