Stop Selling, Start Serving – and watch the MAGIC happen – This week’s #CoffeewithColm – Episode 178

Do you know what gives me the pip?

When someone connects with me or sends me a friend request on some social media channel and as soon as I accept, BOOM, they’re in with a sales pitch!

“Colm, buy my X, Y or Z.”

Please stop!

I came across the title phrase used in this week’s #CoffeewithColm recently and thought what a wonderful few words – Stop Selling, Start Serving.


To the point.

Inoffensive and welcoming.

Too many people spend too much time trying to ‘flog’ their product or service to the world and not enough time simply making it available.

We need to stop selling, and start serving.

To find out how simple this is and to learn some real life stories about the magic that happens, watch the four-minute video, listen to the four-minute podcast, or read on below…

Allow people time to get to know us; know, like and trust us. I wrote in a #CoffeewithColm episode recently that’Personal Development Can’t Be Microwaved – it requires a slow cooker” and the same is true for relationships; they can’t be hurried and one way to make sure they don’t even get a sniff of a chance to germinate, let alone develop is to rush in for the kill the moment someone says hi!

If we put our expertise out there for people to learn from, to benefit from, some people will want more of what we have/know/do and will buy from us. Most won’t.

Most people won’t use your product or service no matter how good it is, unless you are Google. Or Facebook. Or YouTube 🙂 but the reality is for most of us mere mortals, the vast majority of the people on the planet either don’t want what we have/know/do or, if they do, may buy it from someone else, someone nicer who hasn’t gone too far on the first date! (A friend said to me sales is like kissing, you can lean in 90% of the way, but if the other party doesn’t come at least 10%, then it ain’t gonna happen!)

If you stop selling and start serving you will find the people who genuinely want to work with you and you alone, who’ve chosen what you do because of who you are, because of the way you go about your business.

My dad, Tommy O’Brien, retired now, was in sales all his life. Let me tell you a few short stories about how he was super-successful yet he never ‘made a sale’ in his life.

Dad, the Da, worked for two household brands for much of his working life, firstly, and longest for Green Isle Frozen Foods and when he retired from there he was asked to Cuisine de France which he did for a handful of years until he retired again.

At one or other of his retirement dos a former Executive Chef from one of the semi-state bodies (can’t remember was it Aer Lingus or Irish Rail) said a few words which had a profound impact on me and spoke volumes about the Da.

Says he, “Tommy O’Brien would call in, we’d sit in the (industrial) kitchen and have tea and scones, talk about everything under the sun EXCEPT frozen food, and when he’d eventually leave, you’d look around and your freezer would be full!”




Not selling.

The Da met a Yank (a colloquially fond reference used for all of our American cousins) in Kerry one year on holidays. The conversation that ensued eventually got around to what each other ‘did’.

“I’m in sales.” said Tommy

“I’m in sales too.” boomed the Yank. “Tell me Tommy, how do you close a sale?”

“I never closed a sale in my life.” confessed the Da.

Confused the heck out the Yank no doubt! Still lookin’ at him, I’d say.

But Tommy O’Brien never closed a sale. Tommy O’Brien was a servant. At an appropriate time in the ‘conversation, he might say something as innocuous and non-threatening as “Should we start the paperwork?” BOOM.

The Da never sold, but people bought in their droves.

Let me finish with one last Tommy tale, post-retirement(s).

He retired a second time and a long-time client and friend invited him to lunch to celebrate their years of soldiering together. Lunch was at the RDS in Dublin where there happened to be a Trade Exhibition showing on the day of their lunch. After eating, Tommy and his host wandered through the exhibition hall and were greeted at the very first stand with a sign, “AGENT WANTED”.

Not one to do nothing, the Da (retired a second time for all of twenty four hours – or a week or something) expressed interest and was duly appointed Agent for Ireland for a particular brand of steam-clean equipment, German in origin, and sold in Ireland until that time by the UK Distributor.

Tommy’s famous mantra gleaned from five decades on the road, “The more calls you make, the more orders you take” kicked in and so he threw the machine into the family trailer we had used for lugging gear up and down to Wexford and Kerry for our holliers, settled my mother, Doreen, the Ma, into the passenger seat and drove the length and breadth of this small island of ours and demo’d the steam machine in butchers shops, behind deli’s and in restaurant kitchens.

He served people all over Ireland and in so doing had many many cups of tea with scones and many’s the conversations leading to “Should we start the paperwork…?”

The result?

The Da and the Ma, on their own, in the family car pulling the holiday trailer, on this tiny island of ours OUTSOLD THE ENTIRE UK SALES FORCE!


Stop Selling, Start Serving and watch the magic happen. Tommy and Doreen did. You can too.

Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly.


Watch | Listen | Read | Think.

Did you enjoy that? Fancy a sip of some of my recent “Coffee with Colm” Blog posts:

  • Don’t let the “Committee of They’ steal your dreams. Dolly Parton didn’t. Here’s how – click here.
  • Personal Development Can’t Be Microwaved, it requires a slow cooker – click here.
  • Stop To Prepare – Click here.

HIRE ME TO SPEAK. Consider me speaking at your event, launch, awards, or as your after-dinner keynote. Find out more here.

WORK WITH ME OR THE COBM | SOUNDING BOARD TEAM. Need help with your business? Check out the areas I and The Sounding Board of trusted experts can assist with. Find out more here.

FREE AUDIO BOOK. If would like a complimentary copy of my book “Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business Despite the Roadblocks” in audio, narrated by yours truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here.

DEEP DIVE. If you would like to go deeper in your own personal journey, you can review the first step in my “12 Steps to Create the Life You Really Want” for FREE. Check it out here.

LINKEDIN. Perhaps the thing to do right now is simply to hook up professionally on LinkedIn – if that’s of interest, click here.

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