Everyone wants to make sales, but no one wants to sell.
That’s the short and sweet summary of what I have observed. It has also been told to me many times: “I hate selling; I feel salesy.” So lets talk about how to sell without feeling like a salesperson.
Before moving forward, I want to preface this by explaining when I say “selling” in this episode, I am usually referring to the act of selling, the advertising/ marketing/ show-up-and-sell selling. The action the human person takes to make a sale. Not’ selling’ like, “my items are/aren’t selling well.” To be clear!
No one likes having to be salesy
EVERYONE wants to ‘increase sales,’ and almost everyone feels super intimidated by marketing or showing up in any sales capacity. No one likes that act of “selling” or having to be “salesy.”
There are lots of reasons for not wanting to show up and sell. One reason is a general lack of knowing how to sell or thinking it shouldn’t be necessary because products will sell themselves. Those are real things; I feel more people need to learn some skills in marketing to be effective at it. But needing to know how to do something isn’t usually what slows people down in this area.
What I see and hear that I want to talk about today is the absolute abhorrence for selling because it feels icky.
Showing up to sell makes people feel … icky.
People think about selling – showing up to pitch a product, or ask for a sale or whatever else, or even moderately passive marketing, and all they see is slimy used car salesmen. It feels very disingenuous, and some might even say gross. People feel like they are “asking for money,” not like they provide value to others.
So let’s unpack that a little bit. First of all, let’s recognize that there are, in fact, some very shady or icky sales tactics. There are. Some things can feel very distasteful or desperate to a consumer – I am positive you can think of a few from your own consumer-self experience (and by the way, we have a whole episode on consumer self you should check out for more on that. ) Hidden fees, making it impossible to cancel a subscription, cold calling, selling without any lead up or warm up… all of that, for me, is icky.
You know how it feels when a salesperson at the Gap register tries to sell you on a store credit card on the spot. Have you ever tried to cancel a gym membership? Yikes.
You know what makes you feel excited as a consumer, and you know what makes you feel disgusted.
You can and should sell without feeling icky
Being a salesperson, though, or a marketer, and wanting to sell your product, is NOT inherently icky. It’s not icky at all.
You may have heard the phrase “selling is a service.”
I honestly think that until you see your product as something truly valuable, you will not feel confident selling it, and thus, you will always feel icky about selling even if you aren’t engaging in unpleasant sales tactics.
Until you feel confident in what your product provides to people – benefits that product gives them-you will feel sleazy selling it. Because most of us don’t want to bother people, and we hate being the center of attention. Usually.
Again, people feel like they are “asking for money,” not like they are providing value to others. But once you fully know, believe, and understand how your product can benefit people, you can show up in service – it will feel less “greedy” and you’ll begin to understand how to sell without feeling like a salesperson, plus you’ll start to show up more confidently.
Understand your value
Now let’s discuss benefits and value. If you’ve ever done an ideal customer exercise, you were very likely asked, ‘what problem does the product solve?’ This question stumps many people because we hold a generally narrow view on the definition of ‘problem.’
The idea that a luxury product or a non-essential product of any kind could solve a problem doesn’t sit with us. We struggle to make it make sense. We don’t see cute graphic tee shirts or wall art as solving any PROBLEMS. We tend to have a very narrow view of what ‘problems’ are and which ones are worth investing money to solve.
On the other hand, we know that people live their lives day to day buying products for all sorts of reasons. We do it ourselves! Every day, people experience problems like wanting to have a cute and cozy space or a fun statement jewelry piece for a party or the perfect gift for a friend—every day. Problems are not limited to big world crises. There are problems in the world, besides violence and climate change.
be a problem solver
People have small problems every day, and they are always willing to pay when they see the value. That’s your job, to show up and share how your product provides value and benefits the customer – that is selling.
When you can naturally show up and be excited about your work, you wont need to know how to sell without feeling like a salesperson because your energy and enthusiasm will sell without being salesy. Again, you can avoid desperate sales tactics, but you will never feel “not salesly” until you feel fully confident in what you are providing in terms of value and benefit.
Building your confidence as a business owner is essential!