Dear Shama…Help! I Hate Selling

Dear Shama,

I am a management consultant with years of experience in the corporate world. I kicked butt at my job, but left two years ago to start my own firm. The clients who used to work with me at the company continued to work with me after I left. Now those projects are coming to an end, and I have none in the pipeline. Here is the kicker-I HATE selling. I hate telling people "please let me work for you." I am considering going back to my old job just because I hate to sell. I do LOVE working for myself though and don’t want to go back. Please help!

-Stuck in Phoenix

Dear Stuck in Phoenix,

First, let me congratulate you on asking for help before quitting. Now, let’s get you unstuck! I think the reason you (and most service professionals) hate to sell is because of the image you have of what it means to be a salesperson. So let’s start there. Here is what selling is NOT. Selling is NOT unethical. Selling is NOT for slicksters. Selling is NOT getting someone to buy something they don’t need. Selling is NOT begging for work. Okay, now that we know what selling is NOT. Let’s focus on what selling truly means. Ethical selling (as all selling should be) is offering someone a fix to their problem. Selling IS solution based. Selling IS more about listening than talking. Selling IS knowing your own value.

Flu season is upon us, so let me use this example to demonstrate. You have the flu. You are feeling just horrid-achy head, stuffy nose, high fever-the works. Now, you need a doctor but don’t know where the heck to find one! They have apparently decided that they hate to sell so they have closed their offices and are sitting at home-hoping you find them. What’s wrong with this scenario? You need their services and they are not selling! Now let’s assume you are really sick and need surgery. You would like to find the best surgeon but you don’t know how. None of them will step up and tell you why you should choose them to operate on you. Scary, yes?

Now, imagine a company that desperately needs help cutting costs. You can help them! But-you decide to "not sell." When you choose to not sell, you are depriving someone of something they may need-YOUR SERVICES! So stop thinking of selling as gouging people for money. Look at selling as openly and confidently sharing what you provide (a valuable service) to those who desperately need your help and are more than happy to pay for it. Best of luck and work smart!


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  • Rich Brooks


    That’s great advice. So often people think that selling is about pulling the wool over someone’s eyes. I’ve always thought that it’s about helping people find solutions, whether they’re your own solutions or someone else’s. If you continually say to yourself, “how can I help you (the person you’re speaking with),” you’ll find people who want to buy from you.

    People love to buy, but they hate to be sold to.

    I’d also recommend that this person invest some time in marketing: blogging, podcasting, setting up profiles at LinkedIn and Facebook and the like. Although that may not create business today, it will sow the seeds for tomorrow.

  • Shama


    Thank you for those insightful remarks!

    I think you summed it up very well- “People love to buy, but they hate to be sold to.”