Stop Helping People!

This title causes most people to flinch and reread it.  They react with, “but that’s how I describe what I do.  I help people.  I help companies.”  I response with, “Stop it!“

What makes you think they want your help?  What makes you think they need your help?  Why not someone else?  Why now?

Helping people that don’t see a problem is being assumptive.  What upsets prospects the most is assumptive salespeople.  Don’t assume people have problems.  It is insulting.  They certainly don’t want other people pointing out their problems.  Especially a salesperson off the street, they never met.

Start working with people.  Get on the same side of the table with them and fight with them against a problem or towards a desired goal.  Here are three reasons why:

Helping is about Control

People don’t like giving up control.  They fight change and yearn for complacency.  When you offer help, you are asking them to change and give up control to you.  They don’t want to change.  You may know some smart people that make dumb decisions to maintain their position.

When pressured to give up control, people will get defensive to guard their current position.  This prevents change and instead, starts a debate.  Debating a prospect is going in the opposite direction of a sale.

Helping is Enabling

Taking away accountability and ownership of a problem prevents responsibility.  For people to expand their professional and personal development, they need to take risks, understand failure and deal with the outcomes.  When they no longer accept the results of their behavior and believe they deserve a better life, they are bound to find a better way.

As new behaviors are adopted, and the outcomes improve, the ownership and responsibility will be restored, and the bad behaviors will decrease, and the healthy ones will duplicate and multiply.

Helping is not Learning

The late Larry King (1933 – 2021) said, “‘I Never Learned Anything While I Was Talking.” When you are helping someone, you are not learning.  To learn you need to be curious and inquisitive.  Most development occurs in the aftermath of a failure.  Think about the leaders you’ve followed.  Did you learn ‘what not to do’ more than ‘what to do?’  When working with others, learn what they want?  Where they want to go?  You helping them prevents you from understanding their current situation and desired outcome.

Most people love collaboration.  The mutual contribution and consent of a project.  Share responsibility and accountability causes people to grow.  The obligation to keep up, keeps us growing and advancing.  If you are coasting, you are going downhill.

Only use the word help when someone asks for it or, without question, is drowning or gasping for air.

Helping is meeting your Need of Being Needed

We help others so they will like us and need us.  Not a healthy relationship. Our goal is to engage with them through an interactive conversation, for a period of time when we can make a positive difference in their life or business, and move on to engage someone else. The biggest weakness salespeople have is a high need for approval. Whose approval do you seek?  If I help a prospect, they will like me, as I seek their approval.  If you seek the approval of prospects, they own you and your future.  And you will not challenge the prospect to think and act differently.  If you don’t challenge the prospect – you will not change the prospect!

Enjoy the journey.

Scott P. Plum is the Founder and President of the Minnesota Sales institute, LLC.  He delivers sales workshops, classes and seminars; and executive coaching. He is the Past President of the Professional Sales Association (PSA) 2011-14 and the Past President of the Sales and Marketing Executive (SME) 2014-15.  And author of the book Taking Off into the Wind – Creating Lift out of Life. More information at or calling (612) 789-5700.


  1. Love this post! So true and spoken in plain English for all to understand and put into practice. Great post!


  1. […] Book: Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz –Scott – BLOG: Stop Helping People -Buying Steve Kloyda’s book – The Art of Prospecting – CLICK […]