Asking for consent – a new approach to selling

Asking for consent …

These days that has become a rarity. With our renowned rights, freedom of speech, the equality we believe we are all entitled to our opinions. We also think we are entitled to share our opinions, our agendas, our problems, our issues with others believing that the other person just has to listen. Social media has become a perfect playground for that. Respect for another person’s boundaries has been dissipating and being replaced by loud speaking up. 

Unfortunately, some sales training has been built on that for years. Multiple generations of salespeople are trained to quickly take down another person’s boundaries, get in the door/their space/their day, “scramble internal dialogue” of a potential customer, get the agenda in the door, quickly ask personal questions, throw solutions at the customer and close them. Win the deal in the shortest time possible.  

However, by doing that, how do you leave a customer after a sale? Calm, happy, empowered and transformed? Or frazzled, violated and confused? 

Asking for consent allows avoiding that. That feeling that someone just came into your house, uninvited, left their things all over, messed up your emotional home and left. 

Has that ever happened to you? Have you done that to someone in business or in personal life? When you shared an invited opinion, started pitching someone when you saw that they were not willing to listen to you, dumped your emotional baggage on your loved one despite the fact they were not prepared to hold a space for you? Let’s be honest, we’ve all unconsciously done it.

Thankfully there are more and more conversations, workshops and books are teaching to set boundaries, but surely not enough about being consensual, present and respecting boundaries of another human being. 

There is a stage in the sales process we teach at ‘Fall In Love With Sales’ about finding customer’s problems, values, pain points, that is called ‘curiosity stage’ and done with consent. Curiosity is followed by a next stage that is called ‘a consent’. 

What do we mean by that? We ask: “would you like to know about our product/service or the solution we offer”? This gives freedom of choice and opens a door for a person to say ‘no’. 

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘consent’ as 

1: compliance in or approval of what is done or proposed by another. 

2: agreement as to action or opinion

In our sales process, we are asking for permission to take a person’s time and attention. 

– Can I share the solution we believe can bring you x,y,z? 

– Is it ok if I ask a personal question? 

– Is it ok if I take 2 min of your time? 

– Can I suggest something? 

– Can I share my opinion?

– Would you like to know more?

Variations are endless. The main purpose is to start a conversation by declaring your conversational intent and inviting the conscious consent of your prospective conversation partner. 

Consent is an agreement of mutual exchange. It’s two or more people checking in and seeing if it works for everyone. 

Until recently the consent was mostly used for bedroom conversations. However, all conversations and discussions need to be founded on mutual consent. If we can’t respect boundaries in conversation, how can we expect boundaries to be respected anywhere else?

We do not promote not speaking up, or avoid difficult conversations, completely the opposite. We do not shame selling or self-promotion.

What we stand for is doing it with consent, we believe in ‘consensual selling’™. We believe in practising asking for consent equally in personal life and in business. 

Do or say whatever you believe is right but do it with respect, awareness, gentle approach, presence and consideration. 

Each human being deserves an opportunity to say yes or no, to get prepared for what is coming – whether it is a question, a pitch, opinion or advice. 

In our conversations, we need to be aware that not everything we have to say or is wanted and welcomed. And that’s ok. 

We don’t need to have a sales conversation with everyone, present to everyone, pitch to everyone, share our opinion about everything (especially when it is not asked for).  

Practising consent in everyday life means becoming better observers. Becoming better at observing body language and picking up the tone of voice, reading the signs of unease or comfort from a potential customer. It means becoming better at just observing with detachment and assumptions that we know better. Practising not getting involved until we gather more information, more data and a better understanding. 

Letting go of the need to control each situation. 

Detach from the desperate need to be heard, to be seen, to be understood and be ok with a person not wanting to hear us. After all, it is their space, their world, their lives and their businesses and decisions. 

And we need to respect that.

Originally published on Medium Sep 12th 2019

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