Selling With Love

This Valentine’s Day is a tough one for me.

If you’ve been around for long, you will remember the Russian. Natalia and I came to Bali together. She’s figured in many of the stories I’ve told you, and occupied the center of my own story for nearly five years. Sadly, as of this past weekend we are no longer a couple.

On hearing the news, a good friend of mine—another Jason, a young French Canadian who knows and loves us both—immediately broomed the day’s plans with his own Russian and dragged me out to breakfast instead. We compared notes, found that we both have already survived similar experiences, and concluded that I will likely survive this one too.

When I met Jason a year or so ago at a dinner party, I remember being struck by his open and friendly manner. You know the type: the enterprising young officer who will round up a gang of sailors and attack a rusty chain locker with the same cheerful intensity he’d apply to a main space fire. I asked him what he does in life, and he said he’d been in sales but was now writing a book.

“What’s it called?” I asked.

Selling With Love.”

Back at the breakfast table, a text message arrived as we finished our coffee. Jason grinned and showed me a picture of two battered cardboard boxes: the first hardcover run of Selling With Love, just arrived all the way from London. I lent him a bungee cord and we jumped on our motorbikes to fetch the boxes back to his girlfriend’s house. Before I left him there, he handed me a copy: the very first copy of his very first book, which I think was a pretty special thing to do.

That was Saturday morning. I read Selling With Love in one sitting on Sunday afternoon, and today I’d like to tell you about it.

I am like most engineers: I would far rather make things than sell them. To think of maneuvering a reluctant buyer into a corner and leveraging open her wallet… the very idea fills me with dread! I know many successful salespeople, and few of them seem ashamed of themselves. Secretly, I wonder why.

The first chapter of Selling With Love acknowledges all of this. But then, chapter by chapter, Jason invites us to imagine selling at its very best as a complex act of love:

  • Love of the impact the right sale can have on your customer, on you, and everybody around you both.
  • Love of the customer who seeks your guidance to solve his problems and, in exchange, proposes to serve your own needs.
  • Love of the product, which carries your impact into the customer’s life.
  • Love of the process, which you constantly optimize to bring the transformative impact of your product into more customers’ lives as efficiently as possible.

Underpinning Jason’s argument is his definition of the perfect sales market, expressed in terms any engineer could appreciate:

real value > perceived value > price > cost

As advice goes, this is about as actionable as it gets, and Jason offers plenty of tips on achieving this condition, illustrated with case studies from his own experience and beyond.

Selling is something I have done reluctantly because I had to. After spending an afternoon with Jason’s book, I feel invigorated, and I look forward to my next opportunity to put his ideas into practice!

And of course the title is most appropriate to the spirit of the day! I hope you pick up a copy of Selling With Love and enjoy it as much as I did. Think of it as a special Valentine to the people you serve.

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  1. I agree with the Jasons. As Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”