Justin Ricklefs


A Few Thoughts On Sales

“How do I get the sales people in our organization to become more like consultants and not just push our products?”

Maybe with a few rare exceptions, when you ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, none of them scream “a salesperson!”.

Astronauts, teachers, doctors, and ball players seem to spark the imagination a bit more than the story of the stereotypical sleazy salesgal or guy.

The question above was posed by an owner of a company so successful that I get massive poser syndrome hearing of her success. Yet still, her sales team struggles with the age-old, God-given, grandma-communicated “you have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you speak” adage.

As I heard her question, my “talk a bunch” mouth muscles started firing, wanting so badly to short circuit the listening process.

By some miracle of the universe, I sat and listened to the small group discuss her particular, but certainly not peculiar, predicament.

I attached this obviously awful cold email (that I’m sure we all get tons of each week) to highlight how to NOT sell.

Subject line: Do You Want SEO Services?

“Nope.” Guards up.

I wanted to find out.

“Why is that my responsibility? I don’t even know you.”

We can manage….

“Sweet. Congrats. So can literally a million other people and companies.”

If you are interested.

“Nah. I’m good. Why the hell am I still reading this email?”

I’m sure you’ll love us (100% sure).

“I mean. That’s weird bro. Don’t go into sales to get your emotional needs met.”

The P.S. I cut off below his signature: PS – I’ll be happy to send the proposal and pricing.


Sales is a beautiful thing, or at least it can and should be. Quite literally nothing happens in any organization until this transfer of trust takes place.

In this digital, spammy, attention whore, email blast-y, who can shout louder than who economy, perhaps the real winners are the ones who keep showing up, keep being curious, keep uncovering pain, keep wondering how they can help, keep connecting, keep giving, keep adding value, keep understanding, and keep serving.

Trust is transferred when, and only when, we get out of our own product-pushing mindset and get into the experience of the person on the other end of the table, email, or phone. Deep, beneficial, relationship-first discovery and consulting missions instead of showing up and talking the whole time seems to be a stronger alternative to sleazy (and is wildly more effective).

Because no one wants to be sold SEO services (or any service for that matter), but all of us would love to have our pain solved, our dreams realized, and our possibilities imagined through the care of someone who puts our needs above their own.

Service > Sleazy.

PS – And please never send a proposal until you get invited, very specifically, into doing so.

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