This week, I joined Julia on the Marketing in the Wild podcast to talk about how to sell without being salesy. You can listen to the episode by clicking the buttons below or searching for Marketing in the Wild Podcast on your favorite podcast platform!
Before becoming a full-time digital marketer, I was a salesperson. In my sales career, I sold $500 blenders and $10,000 beds and successfully sold almost $2 million dollars worth of products. Did you gape reading the price of those things and think, “I could never spend that much on a blender or bed!” Well, many of my customers said the same thing, too, before they ended up buying the products!
When people think of sales, they often think of the high-pressure car salesman or the sleazy con man. It’s understandable; I’m sure we’ve all encountered salespeople who have made us feel uncomfortable. Maybe you’ve even bought something you didn’t want to before just to get a salesperson to stop bothering you. But the truth is, while people can make the idea of selling gross, being a salesperson doesn’t have to make you feel sleazy. If you know you offer great services or have a product you really believe in, selling can be fun–yes, fun!
Selling is Serving
Before I share some great techniques on how to effectively sell your products or services to your customers, it’s important for everyone to understand that selling is an act of serving others. Think of it like making a recommendation that will really help a friend. When you care about improving your customers’ lives with your product or service, it will make selling a lot more exciting and worth it. While sales and numbers are essential to the survival of your business, they should never be your sole focus before serving your customers well.
Listen First, Pitch Second
One of the most effective techniques that I’ve learned about selling is called “pacing and leading.” This is a method that ensures you, as the salesperson, take time to listen to your customer so that you can meet them where they are in their customer journey. It helps you personalize every selling opportunity by encouraging the customer to choose their starting point and for you to match their pace so that you can better lead them to the sale.
For example, I know all the great reasons why someone needs a beautiful and responsive website, but if I start telling you all the reasons a website could help you without understanding your business, your eyes will probably start to glaze over and the last thing you’ll want to do is work with me. But if I ask you, “Do you have a website already or are you starting fresh?” or “What actions do you want your customers to take when they go to your website?” your answers will give me an idea of how I can build a website that best serves you and how I can tailor my expertise toward your needs.
When you listen to what your customers need, you can then pick and choose what is relevant to share about what you are selling.
Ask Yes-Oriented Questions
Wouldn’t it be great to have a website that matches your brand’s personality?
Don’t you wish you never had to worry about what to post on social media?
Isn’t it exciting when you get a testimonial that validates the work you put in to serve your customers?
Chances are that you answered “yes” to all three of these questions. The more your customer says “yes” as you present your value to them, the more likely they will say “yes” when you ask them to make a purchase. As the great sales guru Tom Hopkins writes in his book, How to Master the Art of Selling Anything, “Selling is the art of asking the right questions to get the minor yeses that allow you to lead your prospect to the major decision. It’s a simple function, and the final sale is nothing more than the sum total of all your yeses.”
You can even create yes-oriented questions by repeating what your customer has already told you. For example, if you are selling body lotion and a customer says, “I love how this feels on my skin!” after trying out a sample, you can say, “It does feel great, doesn’t it?” That is a for-sure “yes” question because they just told you they loved how your product felt.
This doesn’t mean that “no”’s are bad, but they do open up more opportunities for your customer to object to the sale. This results in either losing the sale or prolonging the process because you will have to nurture your customer back toward understanding your value.
It’s OK to Ask for the Sale
A lot of people hate sales because they don’t want to ask for the sale. It makes them uncomfortable. And it can be quite uncomfortable if you ask someone to buy something right when you meet them. But by now, if you’ve been focusing on serving your customer, understanding their pain points, and relaying how your product or service can be of value to them, then it’s time to close the sale.
There are different ways you can close a sale. One way is by asking them directly, “Are you ready to buy?” Another way is to create urgency—“This offer won’t last long! Get it while you can.” And a third way is by assuming the sale is won and asking your customers to make a choice; “Do you want the silver chain or the rose gold chain?” or “Do you want to start your website project next week or next month?”
When you don’t ask for the sale, or when you don’t present a call-to-action, your customer doesn’t know where to go or what to do, even if they believe in your value. Don’t wait for your customer to ask, “What do I do next?” or “How do I buy?” When you are guiding someone towards something that will help them, you need to guide them all the way to the destination, and that is the sale.
Selling is a Muscle
I could talk about sales all. day. long. But I leave you with this: selling is a muscle. If you are not used to it, it can feel weird, especially asking for the sale. So you must practice. Soon it will become second nature and you will feel like you have a superpower. Keep serving your customers as best you can and encouraging them to make the leap of buying your product or service. If they are not ready, continue nurturing them until it’s appropriate to ask for the sale again. As long as you are focused on helping other people and guiding them down the right path, selling will never feel sleazy or gross.