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Sales is at the heart of any business. No matter how amazing your product is, if you can’t sell it, you’re done. That’s it. At the end of the day, you have to make money somehow, right?

So it’s no surprise that learning to be a better salesperson, how to close the sale, is a frequent topic that is addressed in the business world. It’s something that I think about a lot. You can employ tactics, read articles, try new things…there are a lot of ways to approach making the sale.

But in the end, for me, the first step in being a better salesperson starts with taking a step back from selling.

You heard that right. If you’re starting to re-evaluate how you sell to people, if you want to make a big change or just get better at it, take a month off doing what you call “selling to someone.” Instead during that time, reverse engineer the sales practice. Start from the endgame, which is someone buying a product, and map every step that comes before it. See how you can differently handle each step to make sure the outcome is what you want.

There are many ways you can reverse engineer and map that journey, but for me, the number one way to do that comes from going directly to the source. Whether you are a salesperson in a store or an executive selling services, go to your clients. Your customers. Approach them with a very open mind and attitude and ask them: “What are your pain points? What are your day to day struggles in business?” Cut the crap. Yes, you want to sell to them. But you can even point that out, be the first to say it, and still ask for a real conversation.

Because the bottom line is that you want to sell to them by providing value. If you’re a good salesperson, that is always how you approach making the sale. You have value for the customer in mind.

Take the relationship with them to another level by letting it move beyond just being about a single sale. If your entire relationship is predicated on making a sale every single time, the foundation of the relationship won’t be as strong. Then you’re moving into a spammy territory.

Spend a month, two months, not selling. Open your ears and listen. Try to find a way to provide value outside of the context of making a sale. How can you help them?

Thought matters. It will mean a lot to your customer or client. They will respect you more for it and in the end building relationships with humans is always beneficial.