Why are people not buying what you sell

Why are people not buying what you sell?

And what to do about it – 5 ideas

greet bunnens dog

Hi there

Last week I had the pleasure of giving a lecture on Personal Branding and networking to students of the Ghent University.

A group of students decided to organize monthly workshops on topics they don’t teach you at university. And indeed, Personal Branding and Networking is not something they teach these soon-to-be engineers. A pity. But that’s another topic.


One of the discussions we had was on the fact that people buy from people they know, like and trust. And that is why it is so important to invest time in building relationships, for example via networking.

Beware! It’s know – like – TRUST. Very important to add the trust-factor. People might like you, enjoy your company, but still might not trust you or what you are selling. And that was what the discussion was about. Just knowing or liking is not enough. Point taken.

What I’m saying is (and I’m not the only one who says this, I surely did not invent the concept):


people do not buy products or services. They buy people and relationships. They buy YOU! Or not. 

Not only the students were surprised hearing me say this. I often see my clients make the same mistake when talking about their services or products.

Are you a freelance trainer, consultant, interim manager, coach?…. You are selling yourself. So people will not buy from you unless you have built a relationship with them. Relationship as in connection, as in rapport… Get what I mean?

So get out there, and build relationships. The best performers are not hiding behind their desks, they are meeting people. Also in the digital world.

Now having a good relationship and having built that trust still is not enough for people to buy from you.

Here are 5 ideas I would like you to consider if you want to become great at selling:

1/ Sell them what they WANT, give them what they NEED

Example: some people WANT to have a perfect body and NEED to work out and go on a diet. If you sell “dear customer, I have the perfect solution for your problem, we’ll go on a diet and I’ll send you to the gym” chances are slim that your services will be bought. However, if you sell them the perfect body, that’s a whole other story.

So what is it that your clients WANT? And what do you SELL?

2/ People are not interested in you, they are interested in themselves.

I’m exaggerating a little, but you probably get the picture. Example, if you look at old school photos, who do you look for first? Yep, yourself.

That’s the same thing that happens when people look at you or your website. They do not want to know about you, they want to know whether you can really help them solve their problems. Can they relate to you. Are you able to increase your trust-factor via your website, via your LinkedIn profile, etc…?

So in everything you do or say, focus on how you can prove you are able to solve your client’s problems in the best possible way.

Not by focusing on the features or the ‘how’ of your service, but the ‘why’.

And why are you the perfect person to do business with? Combine the rational reasons (experience, diplomas…) with the emotional reasons (your story, your why…)

3/ Identify what’s important to your client.

You cannot know what your client’s real problems are, unless you ask great questions. And by listening actively. And by… building relationships. There we are again J

People buy stuff because they want something (pleasure), or they don’t want something (pain). And often, people are willing to spend more money on avoiding the pain instead of experiencing the pleasure.

So find that pain. Where does it hurt? That should be in your offer. And while you are at it, add the dream to. Both avoiding pain and experiencing pleasure should be the promises you make in your service offering.

4/ Under-promise, over-deliver

Beware when you are making promises to your potential clients. The biggest destroyer of trust is to ‘over-promise and under-deliver’.

In other words:

  • don’t make promises you cannot keep, and
  • deliver remarkable quality, your client is not expecting

So, my question to you, how can you ‘WOW’ your client?

5/ Coach your client in the buying process

Today, a lot of clients already know very well what their pain is and what the problem of the solution is. So sometimes, it is not even necessary (it might even be boring) to focus on that part in your consultative selling process.

Example, when you want to buy a tablet, you most probably are already aware of the fact that you want one and why you want one. So in this case you might not need a sales rep asking you for your pain. You just might need somebody to help you decide what tablet to buy.

Because, even though your decision to buy a tablet might be an emotional one and isn’t every buying decision emotional? But you might want to rationalize your decision by getting help choosing between the tablet. And picking the right one. (beware, even that decision will be emotional, but it will feel more like it’s a logical decision).

So, how about acquiring some extra coaching skills? The skills you need to coach your client on how to buy, how to evaluate options, how to validate and select a solution.

And why not being a real business partner while you are at it, be on the client’s side. Because clients can smell the sleazy sales guys who are only interested in getting their money, from miles away…

“Need more help in Personal Branding and selling your services? Contact me for a FREE Personal Branding Scan

and we’ll discover together how you can build your Personal Brand and attract clients. No strings attached.”


 your turn: 

 Your turn – what are your tips on becoming better at sales – let us know! thanks!! 




One thought on “Why are people not buying what you sell”

  1. Libiana Dapaah-Bentura says:

    I would like to sell myself as a coach. But Im not so good in selling my own Brand. Do you have some tips for me? Thank you in advance.

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