Selling by Giving: a New Sales Mantra


Thanks to people like Dan Pink (“to sell is human”), there is a broad consensus that the client has gained information asymmetry, (i.e he/she knows more than the sales rep); that selling has changed and that sales should start with giving.

“You must give before you receive” is the new sales mantra.

Sounds easy. But then again, so many things do.

What people don’t discuss is that giving is not as straightforward as it sounds.

Selling by giving is, surprisingly, more difficult than selling in the old days; when one could cold call thousands of people and pitch a perfectly crafted value proposition to uninformed prospects.

The “giving” that people talk about in “social selling” is not the same one as giving, let’s say, for Christmas.

No one is recommending that sales reps start an Oprah style “giving spree” or to throw dollar bills into the air, but the task at hand is to strategically give time, expertise, and guidance as part of a business process that produces clients.

The ultimate objective is giving, that results in a return; sales-giving has to be profitable.

Altruism does exist (maybe?), but in reality, giving is not entirely free on either side. It takes time and it consumes time.  

If, like most people who spam me day in and day out, you give me something that has no value to me… then you’re wasting my time. From a sales standpoint, this accomplishes nothing.

Chances are I am ignoring you from that point on, flagging you as a spammer and reporting you to Google and others to get you blacklisted- your “social score” has now dropped below zero.

Do not take “selling by giving” lightly, think before you give, and build a strategy.

From our experience, you should cover the following 4 steps:

#1 Targeting

Be very clear on who you are able to, and want to help. Helping can be expensive and you really need to dedicate your wisdom (or at least a significant portion of it) to your ideal prospects. Out of the gate, be very clear on what segment of client is bringing you revenues and profit.


#2 Value Proposition

When you have the targeting figured out, you also need to be clear on what you have to give, and whether what you can give is actually helping your prospects.

Most of the time this should be:

  • Your expertise (if not then you’ve selected the wrong segment)
  • Your network (when you don’t know, it’s handy who know someone who does)
  • Your time and attention

#3 Techniques / Methodology

This imparted knowledge can be anything from a small tip, to a complex and paradigm shifting revelation. Therefore, you may want to scale the level of giving to how far the prospect is in the sales cycle: small help for awareness, some more for “consideration” and reserve the biggest nuggets for people who you’re actively negotiating with.


  • Liking a tweet is good to develop awareness and is positive for your prospect. Shows his/her content has value.
  • Retweeting is better… providing you’ve people in your audience that are good targets for the original content.
  • Commenting on a prospect blog post with something that showcases your own services may not really help, but if you have a noncommercial comment that adds value, it’s a move in the right direction.
  • Invite to an event, Invite to speak at an event, Sponsor an event your prospect is speaking at.
  • Brokering an intro or suggesting candidates for job openings that your prospect may have. This is a huge help and a wonderful way to make new connections.

#4 Measure

Like everything, it’s trial and error- you need to measure. The complexity here is that you need to measure relations, not transactions.

Measure your progress in networking with your list of ideal clients regularly. Check weekly on progress, archive everything and analyze what worked and what did not; from there you can adjust the parameters in #1 to #3 and become more efficient in this “selling by giving” process.

Dominique Lahaix, CEO at  ~  Connect with me on  Twitter & LinkedIn
Feel free to connect and share your thoughts.
*Disclaimer* Sales pitches may be blocked 😉

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