whens the last time you bought something from a salesperson that you weren’t in the market for

If you want donations to your cause don’t ask for money 

If you want me to buy something the last way to do that is by trying to sell it to me. What you need to do is pitch me your why. 

I still remember the Tweet. It was from Kayla Kozan, she said “Someone trying to sell you a watch is probably a watch sales-person.” Meaning, if someone is trying to get you to buy something you should simply say no because they obviously have an interest in you buying it from them.

How do you sell in a world where Vacuum Cleaner sales people no longer exist? 

It’s simple, you don’t sell. You tell stories. You help people. You try to create an impact. You focus on value. You change things for the better. But you don’t sell.

Sales now always involves a head-fake. From Randy Pausch’s the last lecture, the head-fake is the hidden gem inside of something you didn’t see coming. The learning outcome, the unforeseen positivity you get for trying, there’s always a headfake. An unintentional benefit to the end user, the headfake is real and more people need to understand it.

Every great cause, service or product got there because of a headfake. We didn’t intentionally make Westjet the most adored airline in Canada, no they did that by offering us a discounted flight and friendly service. The headfake? Are Westjet flights discounted? No. Do you get a joke EVERY flight? No. We just assume they are funny and discounted because that’s what we remember about them.

Do we want to spend 1.5X the regular amount on a laptop just to have that illuminated fruit with a bite taken out of it on the back of the screen? Apple has performed one of the most amazing headfakes to date, the technology headfake. We all assume as long as the iconic logo is on the device it’ll work seamlessly. This was true until the latest line of laptops came out with an inordinate amount of “add-ons” for purchase afterwards. It appears Apple may be losing it’s headfake.

The best companies and organizations don’t have to sell to you because you already want to buy from them or donate to them. Well maybe not you in particular but someone in their target market will seek them out and buy/donate, like clockwork.

So how do you do it? How do you sell without selling?

How do you sell

Tell a story to create an emotion, people don’t buy what you’re selling because they need it, they buy what you’re selling because they think they need it. 

Very big difference.

Tell story -> people fall in love with story -> become customer -> tell their own story -> more people fall in love – and the cycle continues until one of the elements goes missing. Story telling, and falling in love are the two main characteristics. That means non-profits constantly need to reinvent how they’re helping and how they’re communicating.

Who’s your sounding-board you go to when you want to know if things are going stale? (if the answer is you don’t need one, things are worse than I thought). Even Richard Branson had a sounding-board, his family. One day head of heals excited Sir Richard came home to share his wonderful news, the next company in Virgin branded corporations was ready to go, Virgin Condoms! 

Richard’s wife wasn’t having it. Pleading with him (more than usual) to just stop this venture, just this one, before it started. He slept on it and sided with his better half later citing this story in his fabulous entrepreneurial read “The Virgin Way” as one of the smartest things he didn’t do! 


Everyone needs someone to go to when they don’t know. Again, if that’s something you’re not used to find a new job! You should be regularly being pushed outside your comfort zone to the point of you saying “I don’t know”. You need someone to go get advice from, or more likely someone to tell you “that’s a dumb idea.” We all need people in our lives like that. Richard Branson used his family for that, his wife talked him out of going a head with “Virgin Condoms” a business he wisely avoided.

Start telling your story. You have no idea the impact you could create.