To Grow Your Business, Serve Before You Sell


The “takers” of the world want your money; their first inclination is to sell you something – anything – so that you give them more money.

Too often, selling means distorting the truth. To make a sale, you have to shift the details in your favor, like this:

YES! Sugar water is fun! It will make you happy! You will be loved! Drink sugar water!

Here’s a far better strategy: serve the best interests of people you want to impress.

Doing this will require some common sense. It will require the courage to stand up to takers, who are very good at deluding themselves that what is best for them is also best for others.

To offer a simple example, do you know what is the most effective and profitable way to attract new customers?

Advertising? No.

Sales calls? No.

Social media? No.

The best way to get new customers is through referrals. People take a risk when they recommend a service to their friends, and we all understand this. So, when your friend or colleague tells you how much she liked dealing with a company, you tend to pay attention.

Before a customer can give you a referral, you have to serve that customer. Serving does not mean doing a good job of explaining your product. It means delivering something of meaningful value. It means identifying a need and satisfying it.


The same is true when you manage your own career. How many times have you asked someone else for a favor before you did anything for them? How many times did you only do something for another person at the moment you realized that you needed something from them? Neither one of these self-centered approaches works very well.

You might think of your career as a bank, in which you deposit goodwill. The sooner you start to help others in a meaningful way, the faster your savings will grow. The more you serve others, the more “interest” you will earn. This is true of individuals as well as companies.

Some say that it is wrong to give knowing that eventually you will come back and ask something in return. I say it is far better than what too many do, which is to only ask and never give.

Adapted from Bruce Kasanoff’s new book, How to Self-Promote without Being a Jerk. You can download a free PDF of the entire book, on this condition: if you find it valuable, you agree to buy a copy on Amazon as a gift for someone else. This “pay it forward” approach honors the spirit of the book.

Find Bruce at or on Twitter @BruceKasanoff.


Mohit Bansal(23) is B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, India. He has interest in business and entrepreneurship and has published couple of research articles. He is also associated with various NGOs. He is with Techaloo when it was just in concept stage. The Techaloo site was not existing even then. Currently Mohit is working with Mu Sigma as a Business Analyst Profile.

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