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Tired of Not Knowing How to Sell? Part I

The 4 A’s Transform the Sales Process 

The bitter truth?

You can be excellent at what you do, and if you aren’t adept at sales and marketing, you’re left with the equivalent of a lot of unsold inventory. Your time and talents are going to waste, sitting on the shelf. You’re not making the kind of living you should, and the people who need you aren’t being served.

That’s downright tragic.

To be successful, you need to possess two distinct skills beyond your professional qualifications … the ability to market … and sell.

Marketing involves identifying and finding the people in your target market, along with developing a deep understanding of what they want and need. It’s about reaching out to them, appealing to their desire to achieve certain outcomes. We’ve talked a lot about marketing lately, and now, we want to turn our attention to selling.

Selling is about offering each prospective client options for achieving those outcomes in ways that are practical and workable for that person. Much of the art of selling involves really diving in to learn not only what the client wants, but what might be holding him or her back.

You’re always looking to find a way to match clients up with the services they really need at a price, and under the particular terms, that’ll work for them. How masterfully you manage that process equals how good you are at “sales.”

I sometimes wish I could just call it something else, because selling has become synonymous with persuading people to take action … “overcoming their objections” and all that. Yuck.

That’s not the art of selling. That’s just getting your way with somebody through the use of slick techniques, fast talkin’ and pressure.

I often ask people at my talks, “What’s the first thing you think of when I say the following word? Salesperson.”

Every time, I get a stream of negatives. Sleazy. Dishonest. Aggressive. Pushy. Snake oil peddler. Used car salesman. You get the picture. And if there happen to be some successful, honest salespeople in the room, they’ll usually chime in with “facilitator … service oriented,” etc.

Yes! A service-oriented facilitator … that’s exactly what a good salesperson is!

Okay, so, if you buy into the concept of salesperson as someone who’s there to truly help you make a good decision, how exactly do you go about being that service-oriented facilitator?

And how does that differ from the methods of the pushy so-and-so who just wants to get your signature on the dotted line?

I think we all have a pretty good idea of what doesn’t serve the would-be client, but what does exactly?

My 4 A’s.

These are huge. They change the nature of the interaction. They literally define what the actual practice of being of service in the sales process is all about. Service isn’t just about being responsive and helpful. Those are givens. It’s much deeper than that.

We’ll cover two A’s this time and two in Part 2 next month, along with some other key insights.

1) Ask for Permission.

This is all about not pushing or bulldozing. If someone has a concern, issue, or objection, you ask, “Is it okay if we talk about that?”, rather than barreling in to deflect or dismiss the concern or overcome the objection. If the answer is no, you’re done. But that simple question shows respect and almost always opens the door.

It’s invasive to continue the conversation without their expressed permission. They’ll feel a need to defend or retreat. If that happens, you risk raising cortisol levels and their protective instincts … and neuroscientists will tell you that’s never a good thing!

When I teach and demonstrate how service-based selling works in workshops and speeches across the country, most people notice I ask permission several times along the way. I respect the potential client, their thoughts and opinions, and always ask permission multiple times before I share mine.

It’s a simple practice I don’t see many people using. Try it in your conversations this month and notice the opening it creates.

2) Acknowledge.

This is about really listening and understanding, so you can find solutions. Don’t minimize concerns or try to persuade. People want, need, and deserve to be heard and understood. Let them know you “get it” and are able to explore their concern vs. rushing to “fix” it.

Don’t do anything else until you’re satisfied they feel heard and appreciated for their concern … and you sense they’re satisfied.

These two steps may seem awfully simple. And yet, 95% of the coaches and business owners I role-play with across the country aren’t routinely doing these things! Stand out. Be different. Ask permission and acknowledge, and you’ll set the stage for success.

Now, can you guess what the other two are? One maybe. The other? I doubt it.

Till next month …

Best Wishes,


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Meet Denise: Denise Hedges is a Business Development Coach and Speaker Coach for small business owners who want to be more comfortable, confident, and successful with their sales and marketing efforts. She specializes in helping them use speaking as a way to dramatically improve their results!