When was the last time someone shouted "buy, buy, buy!" at you and you went ahead and bought whatever it was the lunatic was trying to sell you?

That's what I thought. Force is not an effective sales tactic.

I know I won't buy anything from someone unless I trust the person. Whether you're pitching your personal brand, your vision, or a product or service, no one's going to buy without first developing a trusting relationship.

So stop selling and start helping. Here's how to start:

1. It's about them, not you.

Do you have a meeting with a potential customer tomorrow? Start then. Ditch the "what's in it for me?" mindset--like getting commission for a sale or affirmation from a key stakeholder--and meet this person with a new angle. Provide them with genuine interactions and guidance to build rapport. Who cares if he doesn't buy in right after the meeting--you've set yourself up as a potential option when he's ready.

2. Don't bullsh*t.

If your helpful attitude isn't genuine, people will see right through it. Drop your run-of-the-mill sales personality and provide your customer with the facts.

3. Do your research.

Consider yourself a solution-provider. How can you help someone if you don't truly understand her business? Take the time to familiarize yourself with what she does, and look for ideas on how you can help.

4. Ask questions.

Toss out your fears of being too inquisitive. Questioning potential customers is essential part of doing your job. Ask questions that clearly show you want to learn more about their needs and goals. For example, you may want to ask them about the specific type of audience they're attempting to reach with their service or product. "That's a great question" is the reply you should want to hear.

5.  Focus on the outcome.

Broken-record salespeople tend to focus solely on what they're selling. This doesn't develop any emotional connection for the customer or client. Instead, go over end results and goals. Generating an interest in the big-picture achievement is far more enticing and also shows your interests are aligned.

6.  Be direct.

Nothing is sure to throw off your potential customers more than complicated slideshows and PowerPoints. Treat whomever you're speaking with as a confidant. Toss out your fancy presentations and remove jargon and big words from the conversation. Instead, meet them with direct and informative conversation, and when necessary, concise materials highlighting the basic facts about your solutions.

7. Sell your team.

Stop selling your product and start selling the people behind it. Your potential customers are more likely to latch onto and connect with a person. Even if you're selling a house, focus your conversation on expressing how great the builder is--not just the exceptional craftsmanship.

8. Don't follow up too much.

Pressing calls and emails are certain to turn potential customers running in the opposite direction. Did you have a helpful idea for their vision or an introduction to someone useful to their success? Following up with your audience is important, but keep it casual and friendly with occasional reminders.

Drop the forceful marketing and simply start helping. You're certain to see better results.

Have you found success by providing guidance rather than selling your customers?