How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
In a one-off selling situation, you are selling to someone who you will probably never see again. Beyond the courtesy of strangers, you do not particularly care about them, and they do not particularly care about you.
The situation is typically very much one of a fixed-size pie and hence a win-lose situation. If you gain something, then they lose, and vice versa. Most typically, this focus for bargaining is around price. If you are selling your old car, then all you pretty much want is the best price you can get. And, once they decide they want the car, all they want is to pay as little as possible.
This type of situation is very much 'caveat emptor', where the buyer must beware of any deceptive tricks or lies that the seller may offer — and vice versa. After the close, the buyer may have very little recourse if they decide that they do not, after all, want the product. If they are lucky, they may be able to return the product, but there are often snags and problems with doing even this.
This is type of sales is often described as 'retail selling' and is the traditional form of selling that appears in many different sales training courses. This situation is characterized by a skilled sales person and a relatively unsophisticated buyer.
The metaphor of a hunter and its prey is often quite accurate, with feelings of power in the sales person and of helplessness in the buyer.
Sales people who work in this climate are taught about objection-handling and closing techniques to gain agreement to the sale and simple acronyms such as LAIR and SELL are used to remember sequences of action.
This is very much 'traditional' selling and is based on limited research originating in the 1920s.
Is that it? Is it so clearly black-and-white? Well of course not. Nothing is that simple.
In an economic climate where there is intense competition for the money in the retail consumer's purse, making them unhappy is not a formula for business success. When you have the only clothes store for miles around, then a small rip may be passed off as 'that is they way it is'. But when there are many other clothing stores, all vying for the same customer's attention, then the customer will naturally expect good prices, excellent products and courteous service.
In this way, many successful retail sales people focus strongly on the relationship, and a good salesperson, even of used cars, really does care about their customers and will not knowingly sell them a faulty product at an inflated price.