Perry Timms
6 min readFeb 6, 2021


There’s that adage isn’t there:

We’re always selling.

But what if we’re not?

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

I don’t know about you but I get 10–15 ‘we can sell for you’ messages from people on LinkedIn. I don’t accept any of those as there’s only one reason they want to connect: To sell TO me. Something I don’t want and something I actually despise.

At People and Transformational HR Ltd., we have a principle and it’s this:

We don’t sell to anyone, but we will allow our exuberance for our work to come across in content and shared information. If clients & partners choose us, they do so willingly, with good intentions about us.

Yes, that’s right. We don’t sell.

But of course, you do. People ‘buy’ you/your services so you sell something.

I beg to differ. We have services, obviously. Our reason for being is that we want to create better business for a better world, and in doing that we have revenue-bearing services that help us do that through solving problems clients of ours have and they come to us to solve those problems with them.

They come to us.

OK, we market what we do — letting people become aware and enlightened to the things we can provide for them. We produce content that demonstrates that (it also demonstrates what we believe in and how we recommend our partners who provide things we don’t like technology solutions, coaching or learning products). We make it known what we provide — it’d be daft not to do that.

But we don’t sell.

You’ll never get a sales call or email sales pitch from us.

We won’t ever buy those lists some companies promise that (for £5,000 often) you have ‘guaranteed’ leads. It’s funny how when I respond to such offers, that we can’t afford that and don’t even really want to do this, but if they have people potentially interested in what we do, we’ll give them a cut from the fees we get that will probably exceed that fee. We get an instant rejection response.

So if you connect with me/me with you on LinkedIn or Twitter, I won’t instantly offer a call to sell to you. I’ll even say ‘I’m not one of those consultant types’.

I’ve never bought from anyone who connects with me on either platform with a sales pitch. Ever. Nor likely will I. That’s a sales tactic with 0 return where I’m concerned. I know I’m not alone in that.

I entered into something in December not because I was sold to because I absolutely wasn’t. I was clearly thought about as someone interested in a product/service and the creator of the product was after my feedback on it. I liked it. I enquired about using it. That may have been a veiled sales tactic but if it was, it worked. I still don’t think it was. I entered into the ‘I’m interested in this not just to give you feedback, but as a customer of yours’.

The ‘business’ of sales is never one I’ve fancied. I went to school with someone who wanted to sell me a pension in my early working days. I was a civil servant. I didn’t need that. He had all sorts of tactics and I hated them. And then disliked him for his overly pushy style and approach. It all turned sour. I didn’t buy. He didn’t sell. We never ever spoke again.

I get 8, 10 calls from people who randomly enter into my day trying to sell me something. Energy, wealth management, whatever. Never bought from any of them.

I guess (naively maybe) this ‘industry’ of sales must work else it wouldn’t exist. Yet I get the sense many people in it aren’t thrilled by so much rejection, being ignored and abused but they do it anyway. The win, when it happens, must be such a thrill. Like a short-term hedonistic fix.

Schools of courses, tactics, books and massive thought leadership speakers will tell you how to sell. What tactics to use. How to manipulate people I guess. Borderline aggressive techniques for pinning people down and getting that order.

Why? What’s the joy in badgering someone or palming off a product or service you know deep down they don’t want and they’re saying yes to get rid of you and your assertive push?

To Sell is Human said Dan Pink in his famous book. I read it, I needed to understand this desire to force your product on someone. Ok, there’s competition and if they sell better than you, that may mean you’re out of business. He had some interesting things to say about group incentives and the removal of sales targets and also that in some shape or form we all have something to sell. That I can get with. But selling to people is the bit I loathe.

All of this is why I like to think the rise of things like customer personas, Design Thinking empathy-led approaches are trying to correct this. Bringing more attunement to the actual issues people have. Some storytelling geniuses who have shown how you can position your product so it IS what people want and they’re clear and willing to buy from you. Not the competition, you.

But what about fundraising for charities? That’s selling. Tactics to get people to donate that means the humanitarian work can continue etc.

Sure, there’s that. But again, really, people should want to donate, not to be emotionally hijacked or feel persuaded to let £2 from their kid’s lunch money towards the cause when that’s not really what they wanted to do. We’ve all seen the ‘chuggers’ in the street with their clipboards and inviting you to sign up to a direct debit whilst you’re on your way home from work and just want to get the bus. Selling. Instrusively. Not good in my view.

I just saw a post on LinkedIn which sparked this post, glamorising an always-on, 24/7, at any cost mindset. I shook my head. It was painting the sales rep as a vigilant, warrior-like champion. Waiting to secure their next deal/meal.

I mean, come on. It’s not saving the planet from ecological disaster. Helping children learn and stand a fighting chance in life or helping others be healthy and safe in their lives.

It sounds like you’re pushing stuff AT people and forcing them into a frame of submissive buying at worst. They’re the target and you’re the arrow. They’re the prey and you’re the hunter.

During Lockdown Part 1, we saw some desperate and frankly awful sales tactics. Still do. We get it — people are worried and frightened into securing as much business and revenue as they can. But the ‘targets’ of the sales pitch are in the same boat as you. Uncertain, not sure what they need and vulnerable. Preying on that seems unethical not just tactical.

Now, what if the sales ‘industry’ didn’t exist?

Would we notice? Worry? Miss out on stuff? I’m not sure I would.

Customer Care, Client Relations, even Product/Business Development could thrive to a point it’s a highly regarded part of the business world beyond what it is now.

Elegant, humourous, engaging advertising might become an art form we appreciate more.

Hunting, prospecting and frankly spamming people have become the banes of many people’s lives.

Listening, understanding, helping people make choices that may just be for your product and service? A much nobler way to be.

Deals, ventures, services and products can be sold without force. Choice, interest, belief in what you do — much more powerful ways to create a sustainable business and an ethical way of operating.

Now I’ve written this blog post, I can simply send a link to every single sales message I get.

Glad I got that off my chest. Gareth Jones agreed with me and added some awesome views/reflections:

‘So, you’re in sales. How’s that going for you? I could help you sell better with…’

I’ll get me coat.



Perry Timms

CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017–2021 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan