How To Sell Anything

Photos of multiple diverse people on a screen

Most of us like to buy the things we want or need, while perhaps at the same time, we're not so keen on "being sold to". Naturally, we like to make up our minds, take our time perhaps and simply enjoy the experience of buying something. One enduring question that is asked regularly is whether we like "the sizzle" or "the steak".

Successful Selling Started Long Ago

From the dawn of time, probably tens of thousands of ideas about how to trade have been shared across the centuries. Perhaps surprisingly, a single smart idea that may have been written or recorded even in symbols hundreds or thousands of years ago, can still be equally valid, helpful, and relevant to us today. Here's why.

So What Has Changed?

Only the objects to sell and items available to buy have changed. We humans  still think in much the same ways.

Like our forbears, we still have needs, desires, fears, and dreads. For most of us, while there is not a tiger outside waiting to eat us, our genetic brains have seem to have lost those memories.

We're still haunted by what could be. And that caution and wariness has kept us alive and allowed future generations to exist. 

Yet the modern versions of the primal drivers endure. The desire in most of us compels us to work out how to bring sufficient meat home to the cave, to keep the fires burning, to protect and defend our loved ones, to be seen to be loyal to our clan, are still as strong as they ever were.

That's why to increase the odds of having better times, we formed tribes in the first place: for safety in numbers, for better defences. We believed that to pool strengths, made the many combined stronger than the one alone.

We still have tribes today, though they have grown far more complex. A tribe today is not necessarily a country, a nation, even a race. Where we live can contain many different tribes.

Basic human nature probably hasn't really changed for generations. We still have hopes and dreams and fears and aspirations. We want better times for our children, and even for future generations.

The Pull of Home And The Sadness Of Buyer Remorse

Today, we all seek a place that we can call home. Sometimes, we can travel thousands of miles before we think we have found that place. 

At other times, we travel thousands of miles, then wish we were back where we came from.

Sometimes, home doesn't even need to be a place: rather, it's a feeling, shaped greatly by who we spend our time with.

So how is the idea of home relevant to buyer remorse: when we sometimes regret buying something later?

When the idea of home works for us, home endures through the "down times". Buyer remorse however, can go one of two ways:

  • Our thrill of buying something burns out: we feel remorse, until we relight the buying candle. Or ...
  • We resolve to be satisfied with our buy. We reconsider and remind ourselves of the benefits. We treat our purchase with more respect and comitt to enjoy the experience that results. Buyer remorse then goes away. 

However, we humans can be complicated. Perhaps "buyer remorse" is simply, ultimately a form of sadness that the most recent transaction is over. We crave the excitement again. 

Perhaps truly, home is where the heart is. That's why, to some people, the sense of home is more simple: it has little to do with geography. Wherever they lay their head at night close to the people they care about is what makes home.

Nevertheless, one thing is for sure: we don't want to just survive, rather, we want more; to thrive, to taste all that life can offer us.

What Selling Really Is

To sell is to persuade. Yet how to persuade sufficient numbers of customers to buy in sufficient numbers is the number one challenge of every business owner all around the world.

The Difference Between Needs And Wants

People buy what they need or what they want. Needs are essential, wants are desirable. Food and water are needs, apple pie and Malbec wine are wants.

However, beyond the basics necessary for surivival, people can determine themselves if a want is, for them, a need. So entire industries have been created based on the idea that wants can be interpreted as needs.

For example, while I quite like coffee, so fresh coffee is a want. Some folks go much further. I know people who are convinced they cannot get through their day without a sufficient amount of their favorite coffee. 

How Emotions, Feelings, And Desires Overrule Logic And Common Sense

When selling, different approaches for different people in different situations tend to work best. Or, put another way, people are individuals, each of us has different priorities, wishes, preferences.

When businesses work out how to sell to each individual person, meeting each individuals needs, such a business tends to sell more and thrive. Simple, yet custom selling while making enough profit can be an incredibly hard goal to reach in practice.

Why: while businesses plan, the world moves on, times change, cultures evolve, changes in technology can often have the most impact in the shortest period of time. Economies boom, falter, bust, and then start to regrow, in preparation for another boom. While economic cycles tend to repeat, there are no guarantees such patterns will continue. 

A news event can, in the blink of an eye, dramatically affect how a company does business. People age, modify habits, move away, and of course, die. Everything is in constant flux.

However, at least for now, human nature is more predictable. Emotions and stories drive our world. To capture the attention of millions, stories don't have to be true, just entertaining. However, the oldest stories seem more durable.

Sometimes, what we buy stands for something else, and that something else is what we really want. In those instances, the thing we buy is just the bridge to where we want to be.

Selling With Heart

Below, is one approach that I particularly like. It's candid, open, not sleazy or deceptive, and focuses on our real motivations, not our surface or apparent desires.

If you want to sell something to me, below is the way through. How about you?

By: Author Unknown, With Further Descriptions From Brian Austin

Don't Sell Me Clothes

  • Sell me neat appearance, comfortable sensations, pleasant surprises, style, attractiveness, fabrics that last, buttons that stay on, zips that endure.

Don't Sell Me Shoes

  • Sell me foot comfort and the pleasure of walking in the open air, shoes that stay together for longer than I expect.

Don't Sell Me Candy

  • Sell me the pleasure of the great taste and the promise of fun memories.

Don't Sell Me Furniture

  • Sell me a home that has comfort, the feeling of durability, cleanliness, contentment.

Don't Sell Me Books

  • Sell me pleasant hours and the promise and profits that come from improved knowledge.

Don't Sell me Toys

  • Sell me safe to use playthings to make my children happy.

Don't Sell Me Tools

  • Sell me the pleasure and profit of making fine things that save money.

Don't Sell Me Refrigerators

  • Sell me the healthier food options, and better flavor of freshly-kept food.

Don't Sell Me Tires / Tyres

  • Sell me freedom from worry, better safety on the roads, and low cost per mile.

Don't Sell Me Plows

  • Sell me green fields of wheat gently dancing in the wind.

Don't Sell Me Things

  • Sell me ideas ... feelings ... self-respect ... safety ... confidence ... security ... savings ... home life ... satisfaction ... happiness.

Please Don't Sell Me Things! Sell Me On How Your Things Will Improve My Life

  • Your Customer.

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