I was talking with a few people about their options for web hosting, and I mentioned that I am not interested in getting their business. I just want to make sure they have the right solution for their needs.  I'm lucky, being busy enough to not worry about getting new business, which gives me the freedom to "Serve, not Sell".

I liked the term so much, I decided to see if anyone had Trademarked it, as if I invented something special. Dopey me. Of course it is used, though it seems, as a sales technique.

Just Another Sales Tactic?

I've never been a salesman. I hate the concept of pushing a product for the sake of making a myself money. Some people are proud that they can sell icecubes to an Eskimo, which I guess is good for them. I'd be the one telling the Eskimo (defined here as 'one surrounded by cold and ice already') to look around and see that they don't need the special, pre-made, quality filtered ice cubes.  So, it kind of bugs me that my phrase is being used as a tactic.

Here are a few excerpts from different sources talking about increasing sales by 'serving, not selling':

  • Send an invitation asking the customer to participate in a short interview specifically designed to help you learn how to serve (not SELL!) them better. Tell them their feedback is important and that honest communication is a valuable part of any successful relationship. Six Steps to Sell More Now!
  • Choice is good - and profitable. The more ideas we give our clients the more money we earn. We make money by selling our time-and-ideas.   Do not sell -we serve, not sell.
  • Serve Not Sell - this attitude will serve you well in your advertising and your ongoing assistance to the members who join your business. If you serve, the sales WILL come.
  • 'Be a trusted advisor, but use these tactics to close.'
  • 'What Sells, What Doesn't - focusing on your clients needs increases your sales'

Ouch. I feel so dirty.  Most of these are about a self-serving tactic to serve the client for self-gain.  Maybe I'm a little too altruistic, but the use of this tactic for the end-result of 'making a sale' negates the actual concept of 'serve'.

Focus and End Result should be Satisfaction

In my quick 5 minute google search for this topic, I did come upon one site that seemed to get the concept:

It is also interesting to know that the origin of the word "sell" simply means "to serve". What we are talking about is not being self-serving but being client- and prospect-serving. The focus is not about money or commission but focusing on the well-being of clients and loved ones.

It's about the end-result, where your advice and guidance leads a client to the best solution for them, not you. If your product/service fits their needs, everyone wins. If they don't use your product/service, everyone still wins, because you did not 'lose' a sale. You gained trust and integrity.

-Brian