I wandered into the home goods store with absolutely no particular need in mind. I just liked the looks of a few of the things I saw in the window so I went inside. A woman instantly approached me as I was looking at a wall full of interesting things, pointed at some nearby candle holders and immediately said to me, "These are on sale. They are really nice and and they are a very good price. See, you can use them for a candle or you could put a flower it them."
"Oh yes, they seem nice, but I don't use candle holders."
Quickly she picked up a sofa throw pillow made out of turquoise feathers, and said, "Isn't this pretty? This is really different."
"Not quite my style," I replied. "Very pretty, but not my style."
After her pointing to one more item that she liked and thought was great, I began to wonder. Did no one explain to her that before you can suggest something for someone to buy – you need to find out a little bit about them? Perhaps what they might like? I certainly didn't feel like her objective was to learn anything about me and what I wanted or needed. Instead I felt like her intention was to sell me something – anything. I found myself actually beginning to resist anything she suggested simply because it seemed like I was a means to an end for her.
Here's what I left with: I will never try to sell someone on a point of view, a movie, a new restaurant, or my services as a motivational speaker until I have first learned a little about them, and determined what they are looking for and what interests them. And how do I do that? Maybe it's as simple as I stop talking and I listen. I might be surprised at what I learn – and what people might want to buy from me because they believe truly I get who they are and what they want.