Stop Selling and Start Leading 

By  Debbie Nicol

Stop Selling and Start Leading

When people work through challenge, they are commonly at their personal best having to redesign, recalibrate and reposition. Leaders live in this space and accordingly develop new ideas and approaches which create hope thereby convincing others to willingly follow.

Ahmed, Bob, Sally and Efran are all potential buyers with four distinct and different needs. Kouzes’ and Posner’s acclaimed leadership research has now been extended into the realm of sales affirming that buyers definitely want sellers to stop selling and start leading. Could Ahmed, Bob, Sally and Efran each have just the challenge upon which a seller could practice his leadership skills, converting each one into a personal best sales situation?


The book ‘Stop Selling and Start Leading‘ states: ‘Seller Stories about their personal best include leadership behaviors that buyers desire, but sellers did not attribute their success to these behaviors. Instead, more than 75% of sellers linked their success to persistence’. When will the ‘push philosophy of show up and throw up’ approach finally succumb to the value of a relationship where people shall willingly follow a salesperson to a new product experience? New research from Jim Kouzes, Barry Posner and Deb Calvert clearly states that extraordinary sales results will be achieved if the seller leads a customer experience.

This could appear differently for each of our customers. Ahmed wants to feel a commonality in beliefs with the seller so he feels to be in safe hands, hands which will genuinely care and protect. Humans respond to emotional connection. Bob needs to know that ‘it’ can be done better and faster, hoping for more efficiency and less time-wasting. He wants his experience to include a compelling image of what a future with higher efficiency would look like from the seller’s point of view so Bob can decide to embed himself in that picture, or not. Sally has jumped into that picture as she’s excited by the picture of efficiency but needs to know how to make that happen. She is willing to partner with the seller to match her desired outcomes with new ideas and even slow and steady implementations to ensure the new product suits her need entirely, encouraging small wins. Efran has completely different skill levels with the product and lack confidence to operate it, and looks to the seller to collaborate with her until she herself has the confidence and competence to take it over. And through it all, a trusting community spirit is emerging and strengthening all.

This is leadership in action during sales interactions. Sales professionals feel a sense of contribution to a higher purpose of leading the customer to a whole new level and the buyer is proud and dignified in the moment. What is in that process not to trust? Stop selling and start leading, the results will speak for themselves. Sellers who lead are leaders who sell.

Debbie Nicol, owner and managing director of ‘business en motion’ and a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge, moves businesses and leaders through change. She specializes in change, leadership, performance and organizational cultures through the services of solutions, learning and coaching.

Debbie Nicol

Debbie is tenacious, resilient, can break complexity and ambiguity into concrete simplicity, eats the stage, loves to challenge, Author.
Debbie is a Change Practitioner, Facilitator, Conceptualizer, Design Capability, Asks the right questions, Builds Customized Solutions, Life's Mirror

Debbie Nicol

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