How to get over your fear of "selling"Nov 29, 2022
Sales is a scary topic for many entrepreneurs. It's a subject we're uncomfortable with because it might feel aggressive and confrontational, or sometimes it seems too close to begging for us to be willing to engage in it. Many of us can tell stories of our bad sales experiences, and we'd like to do our best not to become the subject of someone else's story.
Do you have a bad sales story? Would you care to hear a couple of mine? Before I share some principles that can help you get over your fear of selling, let me share two bad sales experiences from my past that I think will serve as examples of what NOT to do.
In 2008, we purchased our current home. It needed repairs as well as some additional furniture to make the house more accommodating. When it was time for us to furnish our finished basement, I went to a furniture store to see what was available.
I just wanted to browse, and didn't really want to interact with salespeople, but from the moment I walked into the store, a salesman targeted me and wouldn't leave me alone. I politely tried to shoo him off, but he didn't get the hint. After several interactions, I unintentionally snapped at him and said, "I just want to look! I don't have any questions! If I need something, I'll come get you!" Things got awkward at that point because he responded like a child who had just been reprimanded by a teacher. He put his head down, looked ashamed, said he was sorry, then backed away from me.
That salesman wasn't intuitive. He also wasn't a good listener. Instead of honoring my preferences, he provoked me to anger. It's never wise to provoke a potential customer like that.
Another bad sales experience happened to me at our local mall. Growing up, I don't remember ever being approached by people working at the stands in the center of the mall trying to get me to try their product or buy their service, but about twenty years ago, that trend started to change. When that changed, and walking through the mall involved fending off lotion vendors and cell phone companies, I started to dread the shopping experience more than ever.
One afternoon, I was walking through the mall by myself, taking care of a few errands and picking up some things we needed. Out of the blue, a saleswoman who was trying to get customers to switch their cell phone carriers confronted me. She walked toward me and loudly said, "Excuse me, but can I ask you a question about your current cell phone plan?"
Most people tell me I'm a nice person, but I was in no mood for her aggressive sales tactics. That became obvious when I looked at her with the meanest expression I could muster. I didn't say a word. I just glared at her with a furrowed brow and my most serious stare. She seemed surprised by my response, and as I walked away, I actually heard her say to her coworkers, "That was freaky." I hope in some small way, I influenced her to take a different career path.
We all have stories like that, and I know that none of us want to be thought of as a salesperson who lacks self-awareness and cannot perceive that we're bothering people.
Sales doesn't have to be like that. It doesn't have to be negative at all. In fact, I would argue that it can become a very positive experience once you've created a product or a service that makes the lives of others a little better. If you do that, there are people who will not only buy what you're selling, but thank you for making it available to them.
It could also be argued that if you've created something beneficial, you have an obligation to make it available to others. But if you're currently afraid of selling, let me suggest 9 principles that can make sales much less scary.
1. Be convinced that you've created a helpful and valuable product.
The best way to be convinced that you've created something helpful and valuable is to test it and use it. Then refine it and share it. Once you're certain you've made something good, you won't be as hesitant to share it. Our hesitancy often surfaces because we're not yet convinced that what we've created will actually help someone else.
2. Don't just sell. Offer.
I like to make the things I'm creating available for purchase, but I don't like confrontational sales tactics. I'm 100% certain that the content and services I'm producing will teach people new skills, save them time, earn them an income, and improve their lives, but I can't convince them of what they don't want to believe. All I can do is offer the products and solutions I've developed. It's my job to make them aware of the fact that these things exist, so I offer the fruit of my labor and experiences to others. They can choose to purchase what I offer, or they can reject it. Their decision is not up to me.
3. Give publicly. Sell privately.
Are you friends with a few people online who always seem to be selling? I think that's a mistake. You can sell on occasion, but for the most part, your public offerings should be more about giving and sharing. Give publicly. Sell privately. If people find value in the things you're giving away for free, a percentage of them are likely to follow up with you in private to gain greater access to your time and deeper access to your products and services. Don't be the kind of person who always seems to have something to sell. People tune that out pretty quickly. Be a giver instead.
4. Make what you're offering so helpful that purchasing it becomes a no-brainer.
It's my personal goal to offer my audience things that are far more valuable than what I'm charging for them. That's the approach I take to everything I offer. If someone joins the membership community I lead, I want them to feel like it's the biggest bargain they every got. If they buy one of my books or courses, I want them to be able to confidently say that the value far exceeded the cost.
5. Celebrate your sales success, but don't panic if your sales are sometimes slow.
Typically, when we first launch a product, we can't help but check to see if it made any sales on the first day. If it did, we rejoice. If it didn't, we panic. For many of us, this cycle repeats on subsequent days as well. But the truth of the matter is that sometimes your sales will be up and sometimes they'll be down. Don't freak out about it. Do what you can to create valuable things and let others know that those valuable things are available, but don't panic if your arbitrary metrics aren't being met. It might take time for what you've built to gain momentum. It's usually word-of-mouth that drives the strongest sales growth, but it's impossible to have word-of-mouth before people have actually had the chance to use what you've created.
6. Focus on the results your customers want.
Sales stops being scary when you frame it differently in your mind. If you stay focused on delivering the results your customers are looking for, sales becomes a joy. You begin seeing yourself as a problem-solver. Your products and services become your way of saying, "Help is on the way!"
7. Don't be the cheapest option. Be one of the best.
Many content creators are afraid to charge premium prices for their products. As a result, some race to the bottom of the pricing scale then fret about the fact that they can't make a living from their work. You don't have to be the cheapest option to make sales. In fact, many people, myself included, will be suspicious of the quality of certain items if the price is too cheap. Make something good, then charge a fair price for it. Customers that are willing to pay for the greater quality you supply will also, most likely, be higher quality customers. Customers who only buy the cheapest options are also customers who are most likely to complain and steal your joy.
8. Reward your advocates.
One of the best ways to generate sales is to pay others who are willing to make sales for you. I'm a big fan of affiliate programs, and I love paying commissions to people who sell my products. The majority of my marketing budget is dedicating to financially rewarding my advocates. If people are willing to advocate for my products and services, that helps me make sales, and I'm more than happy to return that blessing with a financial gift.
9. Success will help you eventually overcome your fear of selling.
The more success you experience, the less you'll fear. This is true in most areas of life, but it's particularly true when it comes to sales. As you apply these principles, and develop a track record of making sales, your success will eventually snuff out your fear.
I hope this list is helpful to you, and I'd encourage you to revisit this list often if you're struggling with self-doubt or if you're fearful of making the fruit of your labor available for purchase.
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