Be a partner
There is nothing wrong with selling, it is the very nature of a business to offer a service and/or product in exchange for a payment. The question is how, as very few businesses can afford to live on pure hard and cold sales. We believe that cultivating a commercial mindset, rather than a sales mindset, is an important step towards becoming business partners rather than clients/customers.
Commercial mindset vs. sales mindset
A commercial mindset is built on mutually beneficial relations, with an emphasis on mutual. You cannot be a partner if you do not create value, and you cannot be a partner if it is a one-and-done deal.
The classic sales mindset is a straight-line process with a beginning and an end – from first customer contact to the closing of a sale. Contrarily, the commercial mindset operates from a loop-based perspective, where a deal is one element in the continuous loop, instead of being the end of the process.
The objective is not to create extra (or unnecessary) needs for the client, in order to scoop up more sales. The key is in creating value for your partner, even if that means providing solutions that could make you redundant in the future operation of that business area.
Applying a commercial mindset
Thinking this way is easy, but how do you apply it? It is a matter of paradigm and there are a few basic rules to adhere to when interacting with a (prospective) business partner.
Listening, continuity, patience and solution-focus are all keywords. Every conversation potentially contains valuable insights or new information that can be useful later. By continually staying in touch with your business partner, you build up the relationship and your own knowledge base about their business and challenges.
This all requires patience, something that can be difficult, if you come from a sales mindset. All these factors combined will let you develop and execute solutions of much higher quality to your business partner when the time comes.