Sales 101: What Selling Really Means


What do parents, gardeners, and salespeople have in common? Their jobs all require nurturing. Yes, you read that right—as a salesperson, the most important thing you can be to your prospects and customers is nurturing.
Raise your hand if you’ve heard the term lead nurturing before—you know, that helpful process of building a relationship with someone who isn’t sure they’re interested in your product (or they are, and they just aren’t ready to buy yet!).
There’s no denying the benefits of lead nurturing. Studies show that, on average, nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities[1] compared to non-nurtured leads, and that nearly 50% of nurtured leads make larger purchases.[2]
While lead nurturing often consists of targeted email campaigns and timely follow-up calls, it doesn’t end there. Your customers want to know that their needs matter to you—they don’t just want to be nurtured; they want you to be nurturing. Be truly helpful to your prospects and clients throughout their entire buying process.
In future courses, we will explore the intricacies of sales—but before we start throwing around phrases like lead potential and touches or ROI, we’ll first address the five crucial traits of becoming a nurturing salesperson.

Be Genuine

An honest salesman might sound like a contradiction, but honesty is essential to building trust. You may have the catchiest tagline in the world that draws everyone in—but if it’s not sincere, it’s not going to work in the long run; no one wants to hire a liar.
Just look at Michelle—she’s a twenty-something bride-to-be from one town over who’s getting married next fall. She’s interested in your venue for her wedding, so she’ll read some of the emails you send. But her main concern is that your venue is worth the cost—and not just because it has the high ceiling she’s looking for.
She wants to know that her wedding day is as important to you as it is to her. The first and most important part of becoming a nurturing salesperson is to be genuine with your prospects and customers.

What Does Genuine Look Like?

After Michelle’s initial email or phone call, lay down the entire price up front, rather than breaking it down into individual fees. She will feel relaxed because you’re honest about your expectations—rather than trying to make the price seem lower than it really is or sneaking in hidden fees.

Also, don’t forget to take interest in your clients, and not just the product they’re buying from you. Consider the situation Michelle found herself in not too long ago, and what a difference genuine interest would have made:

Michelle and her fiancé Mike went on a weekend trip to check out several venues. Their first stop was at a historical barn where the venue’s wedding planner had agreed to give the couple a tour. They introduced themselves, and without pausing for breath, the wedding planner asked in a clearly practiced way, “How did your fiancé propose?”

She was so obviously uninterested in the answer that Michelle felt uncomfortable responding, and knew instantly that they would not be booking the wedding there—she wouldn’t trust her wedding day to someone so insincere.

Be Passionate

In order to nurture something, you have to truly care for it, so the easiest way attract clients is to believe in what you are selling. Your product may be exactly what Michelle is looking for—but if you don’t love your product, why will she?
Every business, every salesperson has a specialty—make sure you’re proclaiming yours loud and clear. If you’re talking to Michelle about stationery for her Save the Date cards, you’re helping her choose the very paper that’s going to tell her family and friends the big news—that’s exciting! If you show Michelle that your passion is to help her, no matter what she’s looking to buy, she’s more likely to buy from you.

What Does Passionate Look Like?

Maybe you’re an excellent caterer, but you absolutely shine in desserts. Include pictures of your pastries and cakes, and focus on images from dessert-oriented events—such as weddings. Know where you shine, and try to seek out customers or clients who are looking for your niche.

If you’re a salesperson whose skill is making people feel at ease in a conversation, turn your email exchanges with prospects into a personal call (and check out Sales 201: The Art of Follow-up  to learn how to leave a killer voicemail!). Do your best to generate interactions where your skills are at the forefront—you’ll feel more comfortable and confident, allowing you to sell your product more effectively and convincingly.

The owner of one venue Michelle and her fiancée visited drove two hours to meet them to give a tour. The owner was passionate about the venue, pointing out how the interior design complimented the true strength of the locationits beautiful view.

Michelle left impressed that such a busy man would take the time to show them around what was clearly his pride and joy.

Be Friendly

The delicate balance between engaged and interested without seeming intrusive is challenging, but that balance is vital because all nurturing salespeople should be friendly. When you think about being friendly from a nurturing perspective, it takes on a slightly different role than your daily encounters with strangers. Because you’re attempting to build a relationship with Michelle, you want her to feel comfortable when she’s interacting with you. You don’t have to overindulge in personal information, but you do want to take your interactions a step beyond just polite and professional.
Whether you’re chatting on the phone, exchanging emails, or meeting in person, Michelle needs to know that you’re truly listening to her when she talks, and she needs to know that you’re available for any questions or guidance she might need. Being friendly doesn’t end after the goodbyes are said—instead, it’s an open door for future dialogue and any help Michelle may need down the road.

What Does Friendly Look Like?

Don’t be afraid to engage in conversation outside of the product topic, as long as Michelle seems willing for a short detour. Ask targeted questions to better understand Michelle’s situation and help choose the product that will best suit her needs—it might not always be the one she’s interested in.

Take the time to ask for pertinent information—not just what product or service she’s interested in, but why. And don’t forget what Michelle tells you. If it’s over a series of emails, file it all together for quick referencing. Take notes if you’re on a call or in a meeting; as long as you’re making enough eye contact, she won’t mind if you jot a few notes down. You want her to know that when she speaks, you listen.

Michelle received a friendly message from one venue owner that made it clear he was available to answer any questions. But it was the end of his email that put a big smile on her face. “If you would like to come for a day tour or would like a complimentary night stay for four to check us out, just let me know.”  

The sight of that last line had Michelle sold. Not only was there no way she could pass up a complimentary night’s stay, but she suspected that if the owner felt confident enough to offer a free night’s stay, his venue would be hard to resist.

Be Knowledgeable

Chances are, Michelle knows little-to-nothing about your product—that’s why she’s reaching out to you! It is your responsibility to have all the answers, or know where to get them. Being knowledgeable about your field or product is going to make Michelle feel safe with you.
It might be easier to start with what knowledgeable doesn’t look like. Being knowledgeable does not mean using salesy language or industry jargon. In fact, 75% of buyers want marketers to curb the sales-speak in their content.[3] Find the delicate balance of informing your customers without confusing or overwhelming them.
Be prepared for questions you can’t answer. As an expert in your field, you’ve probably heard it all before, but eventually you’ll be asked about something that you never considered. Don’t make Michelle feel foolish for asking. Be honest, tell her you don’t know the answer, then find it for her and get back to her with the answer—no matter how odd the question seems to you.

What Does Knowledgeable Look Like?

If Michelle is calling to book a limo for her wedding day, she’s likely not going to care about the type of engine the vehicle has, or that it’s the top-rated vehicle in its class. What you can tell her is the maximum passenger capacity, your drivers are certified, and that the car she’s interested in ranks #1 in customer surveys for comfort and space.

Don’t be afraid to add additional, relevant information once she’s placed her order—that she’ll receive a complimentary bottle of champagne for the occasion, and that while driver gratuity is included in the rate, additional tipping for outstanding service is encouraged. Remember, you are an expert in your field, and tips that seem obvious to you are probably brand new information to interested buyers.

When shopping for her Transportation Provider, Michelle knew that the wedding party was going to live it up in the limo between the ceremony and reception. And, knowing their friends, the complimentary champagne would not be enough.

When asked about drinking their own alcohol in the vehicle, the company she chose assured her that not only was it okay, but that they would provide a cooler with ice and mixers, and the driver would be prepared to locate nearby package stores in case they needed more.

Be Observant

Do you know why your customers buy from you? It’s not because of your unbeatable prices or unmatched product. It’s because you have a solution to meet their need.[4] That’s why it’s critical that you listen to your customers’ needs, so that you can solve their problem.
We’re not asking you to read minds, we are telling you to pay close attention to what your customers say, even if they’re offering seemingly irrelevant information. Listen for what they want to get out of your product, as well what they are not looking for. Paying close attention will reveal ways in which you can solve your customer’s problem, making it more likely that they’ll choose your service, and leaving a positive impression in their mind.

What Does Observant Look Like?

This obviously includes anything Michelle says that she doesn’t want. If your customer is upfront that they have a certain budget—stay within that budget. Or, let’s say Michelle says she doesn’t want elaborate centerpieces at the reception—keep the centerpieces simple.

Being observant also includes noting any extra details Michelle might offer without realizing. Let’s say she’s calling to find out more about your hotel rates. If you hear her mention that she’s looking to throw a bachelorette party, offer her a room that’s at the edge of a floor—and not one surrounded on all sides—so she and her guests aren’t worried about potential noise. Or if Michelle mentions her bridal party will be flying in, recommend a shuttle service or local transportation method to make her trip easier.

Michelle’s fiancé Mike is in a rock band and Michelle was in a sorority in college. The observant listener can read between the linesthis is going to be a rowdy affair.

Whenever Michelle and Mike asked about possible noise restrictions they were repeatedly assured, “Oh no, nothing like that, but we do require that…<very pointed noise restrictions>”.  Obscuring limitations or expectations that conflict with what you are hearing from a potential client, will not result in a successful relationship.


We’ve covered a lot of information—the five key characteristics of a nurturing salesperson take time and practice, but they are the key to building a relationship between you and your customers.  According to a recent report, 95% of buyers chose a product because the seller provided ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.[5] Just like parents and gardeners, salespeople are hoping their leads will grow into something special.
Remember, your prospects and customers are interested in your product—after all, that’s why they contacted you! But they’ll choose you because they can reach you with you, they can connect with you, and they can trust you—because you nurtured them every step of the way.
Now that you know how to be nurturing, let’s go get you some prospects! Continue with Sales 102: Prospecting on the Internet to learn how to pick and choose the prospects that best match your business.


[1] Source: DemandGen Report

[2] Source: The Annuitas Group

[3] Source: DemandGen Report

[4] Source:

[5] Source: DemandGen Report