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Sales Tactics: Are You a Peddler or a Seller?

Whether you're welcome in a customer's workplace often depends on whether you're selling or merely peddling. Know the difference.


There's a huge difference between peddling and selling--and if you don't know the difference, you may not be doing as good a job as you'd like.

Peddling is the kind of business transaction that takes place on street corners, carnivals, and telephone boiler rooms. Selling is the kind of business transaction that's the heart and soul of the capitalist system.

Here's how to tell the difference:


  • Try to close a deal as quickly as possible
  • Brag about how their product is the best
  • Try to push hot buttons to make the customer buy
  • Offer discounts to close the deal


  • Discover if there's a good match and withdraw if there isn't
  • Focus on how to best solve a specific customer problem
  • Help the customer make the best decision possible
  • Stand firm on an offer that makes sense for both buyer and seller

You'd be amazed at how many people think they're selling, when actually they're peddling. In fact, there are plenty of "sales training" programs out there that actually teach people how to peddle, rather than how to sell.

That's ironic, and unfortunate, because nothing annoys and irritates customers more than a peddler.  By contrast, sellers who are well-informed, well-spoken and knowledgeable are almost always welcome.

Make sure you know which you are--and which you should be.

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Last updated: Jun 29, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES did a lot of business stuff and wrote a slew of articles and books. Now he writes this column. Preorder his new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, by May 12 and get an exclusive bonus chapter and a signed bookplate.

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