What image does the idea of selling conjure up in your mind?
Do you think of a pushy car salesman? A sleazy guy selling insurance door to door?
When Daniel Pink, author of the book To Sell Is Human, asked people what word first came up in their mind when he mentioned “sales,” he found that the majority of words were negative.
Smarmy. Slimy. Pushy. Manipulative. Aggressive. Yuck.
Having to sell makes many of us feel queasy.
We fidget. We procrastinate. And we wish we weren’t in business. We wish that someone else would do the selling for us!
Perhaps you worry you may come across as pushy. So you water down your messages.
You want to be nice. And the result is that people don’t even realize what you offer. You might miss out on orders because people don’t understand what you can do for them.
Want to sell more, and charge more, without feeling pushy? Want to be comfortable when selling your products and services?
Start with these 4 simple and lovable sales tips.
1. Reframe the concept of selling
The old concept of sales is like a one-way street.
The buyer is considered naïve and passive. The seller knows the “secrets,” tells you why you need his product, and shoves it under your nose.
Well, wake up. The world has changed.
Your buyers aren’t stupid. They’re smart. They know their stuff. They google to find information. They compare products. They know what prices are offered elsewhere in the market.
As a seller, you’re not in charge anymore. It’s the buyer who decides whether to buy from you or not.
Your job as a seller is to provide information in an engaging way to allow buyers to make up their minds.
More importantly, your sales information filters out the people who aren’t right for you, and attracts the people who love your product or service offer.
2. Never mention cost without stressing value
Would you like to charge more for your services?
Make sure you point out the value of what you do. A quote or proposal, for instance, should stress the value of your services before revealing the cost of a project.
In the background section of your proposal, explain the project purpose—what the project means for your client. For instance, as a web designer, you might have been asked to design a new home page. But why is your client interested in this? Perhaps they need to increase signups for their email list. Perhaps their current home page doesn’t reflect the brand culture well. Or maybe people have complained the home page is too busy and they can’t find what they’re looking for.
In the project scope of your proposal, highlight the value of your services by listing each step you’ll undertake and explain why these steps are important for your customer. For instance, as a painter you can explain how you sand the wall using two types of sandpaper so the paint will last longer. You can also explain how you clean the wall so the surface will be smooth. Or you can mention the environmentally friendly paint, so your client doesn’t need to worry about toxic smells.
Often clients don’t know what’s involved in your process and why it leads to better results. So don’t be shy. Whether writing a sales email, product description or service page, explain what you do in detail and why your client should care. Show how you transform your buyers’ lives. Align your offer with their goals.
3. Let others do the selling for you
I grew up in the Dutch countryside.
A place with a strong work ethic. A place where blowing your own trumpet is frowned upon.
So when I left my corporate job and had to start selling my services and courses, I was stuck. How could I explain I was the right person to help out? How could I explain my skill set without sounding like a windbag?
This is when I discovered the persuasive power of testimonials. I simply let others sell on my behalf.
Think of your testimonials as mini case studies demonstrating the transformation your product or service offers. Structure the testimonial like a before-and-after story. Here’s part of a testimonial for my Enchanting Business Blogging course:
The before story:
I knew an engaging blog would attract visitors and promote sales. But boring corporate copy was all I could muster. How could I make manufacturing toilet cubicles interesting?
How the course helped:
The course taught me how to attract customers with enchanting headlines (yes, for a rather dull industry). It helped me engage readers with hypnotic flow, and promote our products using fascinating stories.
And what the result was:
Potential customers now come to us for information and advice. This lifts us above our bigger (but duller) competitors.
The before-and-after story reassures potential buyers because it demonstrates how your service helped people like them solve the same problems they’re struggling with. That’s a powerful way to sell without feeling like a windbag.
To get persuasive testimonials, interview your customers by phone or face-to-face. Ask them to explain what problem they were facing before they hired you, and then ask how your services helped solve that problem.
4. Maintain your natural voice
You might have come across old-fashioned copywriting examples. You might think sales letters require exclamation marks. Yellow highlights. AND WORDS IN CAPS!!!
But this is not true.
As small business owners, we have a huge advantage. We don’t have to sell to everyone. We can pick the audience that’s right for us. We can work with our raving fans. We can show our personality and be natural.
When writing a sales letter, a proposal or a promotional email, think about your favorite customer. How would you explain your offer to her? Why does she enjoy working with you? What would she like to know?
Treat your buyers like friends
Dirty sales tactics are designed for selling to strangers.
But thanks to the Internet, the world is becoming a global village. We make friends across the world. And we buy from people and businesses we know, like, and trust.
So treat your buyers like friends.
Be genuine. Be helpful. Be yourself.