The whole “sales” thing has been a little bit wrecked by used car salesmen, Glengarry Glen Ross and old dudes in suits in weird hotel ballrooms.
In the online business world, there’s a lot more fun shiny stuff to talk about than real deal selling.
Sometimes we inadvertently make content creation the sun around which our entire businesses orbit, as if churning out enough content powers our business.
But as a Fizzler, Harriet, admitted in a recent email, she created 300 videos and never made more than $5,000 a year in her business until she dealt with some deeper sales fear.
So today, we’re facing this head on: sales is the sun, or the engine of our businesses. Without sales, you’ve got a glorified hobby.
Maybe you already know for sure that you have an aversion to selling and you avoid it like the plague. Or, maybe you aren’t sure whether sales is your real problem.
Here’s what an aversion to selling feels like:
- You feel like you’re begging.
- You hold your breath and pray when it’s time to name your price.
- You’re hearing a lot of “I can’t afford it right now, maybe later”.
- You’re not sure how much people need or want your thing.
- You feel panicky in general about getting sales.
We’d all love a quick fix to our sales issues, but of course that general “ick” feeling that accompanies asking people for money goes deeper than a list of tactics & tips.
For one, we know how uncomfortable it is to be on the other side of the equation. Inconveniencing other people with a big ask goes against our basic human nature, and we certainly don’t want to voluntarily make anyone uncomfortable.
On top of that, many of us have complicated relationships with money. Questions like, “Do I deserve to make money? Who am I to take this person’s money?” simmer below the surface. Even if they don’t permeate our conscious thoughts, these money-based fears can hold us back from selling with ease.
Finally, our self worth tends to get all mixed up in our sales success. If we put our big passion projects into the world, they will get rejected by some people. And while that’s totally okay, the sting of hearing “no” can lead us to believe we are being rejected. And who wants to consistently set themselves up to get shot down? Not me!
Quite simply, we need to shift from trying to convince, to trying to consult.
From forcing the sale, to finding a fit.
From persuasion-based selling, to needs-based selling — lots of authenticity, hold the douchebaggery.
You know you’re on the right track when you’re asking more questions than you are doing the talking. We feel really salesy when we talk, talk, talk. When we’re listening, we can actually assess what someone needs — and provide an appropriate solution for a fair price.
Here are 6 big strategies for more relaxed, effective selling:
- Know the objections. Selling is a lot less scary without surprises. Step into a customer’s shoes and list out all the reasons someone might be hesitant to buy your thing. Instead of getting defensive, get in her head! What would you want to hear?
- Never beg. Begging doesn’t work in the dating world, and it definitely doesn’t work in sales. If a prospect walks away, let her go. In fact, encourage her to go! A “no” is better than a “maybe”, because “maybe” just wastes your time (and it means “no” anyway!)
- Sell like you’re independently wealthy. This is one of my favorite tips I held on to from my sales training days. I know it’s hard to imagine, but what would it feel like if you didn’t need this sale? Without that pressure, you can sink into a natural conversation with a prospect led by curiosity, not desperation.
- Use third party stories. There’s a reason we like reading the reviews on Amazon! Even if you’ve never had a client, collect stories and praise from people who know you. Use these not only as testimonials, but share more about the role your product or service has played in that person’s life in order to demonstrate that impact.
- Do the unexpected. Old school selling is kind of like a really annoying song on the radio — we know all the words by heart, and we really want to turn it off ASAP. So flip the script! What can you do in the sales process that is surprising, a disruption to the tired pattern? When I did lots of cold calling, I would often make a joke early in the conversation to disarm the person on the other end. Nine times out of ten, I could feel that defensive wall come right down and we could actually have a conversation.
- Guarantee results. Plain and simple, nobody wants to buy something only for it to break or fall short in some way. Awesome companies like Nordstrom and Zappos thrive by making the return / refund process super easy in order to lower the risk in clicking “buy”. So how can you make a potential customer feel like investing you isn’t risky?
Every single one of us will hear objections or obstacles as to why prospects can’t become customers. While of course we wish they would jump up and down with glee and throw their money at us immediately, the truth is that most buyers are going to have questions or concerns about working with you — and that’s natural!
Whether you’re having a client consultation call or you’re writing up a sales post, you can use your platform to educate your followers about the value you bring (without trying to convince them!)
Recently on the Courage & Clarity podcast, my friend Emylee Williams of Think Creative Collective gave us an awesome example of how she used her platform to educate and, therefore, overcome objections.
As a high-end photographer, her services weren’t cheap. As such, her biggest competition was what she calls “shoot and burn” photographers — aka, you get your family’s photos taken and you get a CD with all the photos afterwards to print yourself at a very affordable price.
Emylee started using her blog as a platform for educating her readers about why her services were worth the extra cash.
Many of her potential customers hadn’t considered that a CD full of photos to be printed at the drug store won’t pass the test of time. Sure, they’d save money today, but those pictures would likely get lost in years to come.
Instead her photographs, which were printed on canvas, were durable and quality enough to become family heirlooms, passed down for generations to come.
See what she did there? Emylee stepped fully into the customer’s shoes, completely understanding that of course they would be tempted to shop the cheapest photographer. With that understanding she offered another perspective without being pushy, and instead gave her prospects another factor to consider — quality & durability.
You did it! You just got a crash course in non-sleazy sales, the needs-based way.
I would love to hear from you in the comments — what will you do to make your sales process less stressful? How are you going to shift from convincing to consulting in your own business?
We recorded an episode of the Fizzle Show about this very topic where we get into more detail and share some tips that may not be in this article. Enjoy!
“How to ENJOY sales, without feeling cheesy, manipulative and gross”
Every week we talk with entrepreneurs. We talk about what’s working and what isn’t. We talk about successes and failures. We spend time with complete newbies, seasoned veterans, and everything in between.
One topic that comes up over and over again with both groups is mistakes made in starting businesses. Newbies love to learn about mistakes so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about what they wish they had known when starting out.
These conversations have been fascinating, so we compiled a list of the 10 mistakes we hear most often into a nifty lil’ guide. Get the 10 Most Common Mistakes in Starting an Online Business here »