What's the greatest sales technique of all time? The one that has converted the most disinterested observers into enthusiastic customers?

When you run through a list of different marketing strategies, you realize that one has been around longer than commerce. From the hunter-gatherer days where tribes traded and competed, through the bazaars of the ancient world to the global digital marketplace today, there's one approach that dominated through history.

That's not to say that modern approaches are not great. The internet lets you reach more customers for less effort than ever before.

That only works because of a numbers game. Most people ignore most ads, but everyone gets so many that the system still works. Even targeted advertising fizzles more often than it sizzles.

What's better than spraying your demographic with offers and enticements?

Why, it's getting their friends to do it for you.

Word of mouth continues to be one of the best marketing techniques of all time. Your friend and a salesperson may say the same things about the same product but, psychologically, it looks different.

One comes across as more genuine and helpful.

The other …?

Not so much.

It's a shame that salespeople can not capture that essence that distinguishes an honest recommendation from a blatant sales pitch. And self-hypnosis certainly could not help with those …

Or can it?

Most salespeople come across like they're trying to sell something, for obvious reasons. The best do not. When you talk to the top salespeople, it can feel like a chat with a good friend.

If you're in sales, you're probably friendly – you do not last long if you're rude or cold. But there's a difference between friendly and natural.

Think about when you, say, recommend a movie to a friend. This is sales, where you're selling an idea or experience. Only the way you do that is different from how you might do that in a store.

For one thing, it's casual and friendly. You're not pushy, though you might be enthusiastic about it.

Also, you tailor both the message and the product to your friend. If you want to recommend a horror movie, then it matters whether they love horror, hate it or shr it it off. You would not want to back them into a corner and make them feel pressured to see it – that can backfire.

When you honestly believe that your friend would gain something from your recommendation, that's when it has power.

This is the secret to sales. And what a great secret it is. You have to believe in what you're selling (if you do not, then what are you doing?) And, if it's not right for the customer, it forces you to distinguish that.

Will that cost you sales? Unlikely.

If a customer walks out of there with something that is not right, they'll return it.

If you talk them out of a sale, though, they'll come back to you. Not to the store – to you. And they'll bring their friends.

A genuine salesperson is rarer than platinum. People will not believe their luck when they find you.

The technique – if you even call it that – is simple. During your quiet moments, maybe just after you wake up, you hypnotize yourself. In a trance, you think of any moment where you recommended something to a friend. Relive how excited you were to share your discovery with them. There's an anticipation there, waiting until you hear what they thought about it.

This is the power state for humane sales. When you approach customers with this state filling your being, they will thank you for allowing them to buy from you.

It takes practice.

But it's worth it.