One of the things I’m often asked about is how to sell without feeling or sounding “salesy”. I get it. That used to be a big concern for me too. I figured my aversion probably meant I wouldn’t be good at it. After all, I was the kid who quit one of those Girl Scout type groups when I had to sell some kind of something and got a “No, thank you” on the first go. I walked straight home, put the merch on the table and said, “I’m not doing this.” And that was that.
Sales wasn’t my thing. But talking about things and people I believe in is. I’ve learned that when you can build relationships with people based on integrity, you’ll never have to have another sales conversation again.
Think about it. Let’s say you go to this great new restaurant that you can’t seem to get enough of. The food is consistently good, the atmosphere is inviting and makes you want to hang out, and the service makes you feel like you’re their favorite customer. Most likely, you’re going to tell your friends, family, other people in the area about this hot new find – especially if you want the restaurant to stick around.
When you’re having those conversations, you’re usually not using sales tactics to get them to try this new place. Usually, you share your experience and when it’s positive people can feel it and often want to have a similar experience. That’s a sales conversation. And then when they call to tell you they went, that’s a sale! The only difference is you’re not getting the commission because you’re selling someone else’s offer (instead of your own).
In fact, let’s talk about that. If you’re thinking, “It’s SO DIFFERENT when you’re selling someone else’s stuff”, I hear you. But if that’s what’s in your head, then it’s time to separate yourself from your business. You’re not asking people to buy you. (Also, that’s illegal.) You’re asking them to buy something you provide that solves a need for them. Put that same level of excitement you put into promoting other people’s businesses into creating an offer of your own that makes it easy for you and others to do the same. Whenever I’m creating an offer, I look at everything I can do to make it easy for my clients to say yes. I look at what it includes, the quality of the content, how it solves a need and to what extent, delivery, pricing, etc.
The biggest misconception when it comes to using relationships to sell is people think a sales relationship is different from an authentic relationship. Not true. Here’s an example…
I sometimes get sales emails from a business up to three or more times a day. It may not be promoting the same thing, but all three emails include some kind of pitch. If someone I know called me three times in a day with a pitch in every call, it would probably be the last call. But if someone shares information that provides value and makes recommendations based on their experience, I will probably listen with interest and more than likely, I’ll take what they have to say seriously because there’s been an investment in building trust, respect, and genuine interest in another human being. That’s someone I probably enjoy being around and am interested in hearing what they have to say.
So what’s the downside? Easy. If you’re looking for fast transactional sales, this approach may not work for you. Relationship sales typically have a longer sales cycle than transactional sales. Meaning it takes longer to get to the “yes” of a sale. The upside? Retention. If you’re someone who likes to work with clients on a long term basis, this may be a great approach for you.
How do you know if relationship selling works for you? I’m glad you asked.
Here are three things you can do that are part of relationship selling:
- Reach out without an ask. Look to genuinely connect without an ulterior motive, hope or agenda.
- Go the extra mile without an expectation or additional fee.
- Let a client or prospect (or even a colleague) know what/why you appreciate them (respects your time, show up on time, always has an encouraging word, recommends your business, etc.)
Give these a try and notice how you feel. If it feels like you’re on the right track (maybe it’s fun, natural, easy, etc.), then relationship selling may be a great approach for you to implement in your business. If it feels like it takes too long, doesn’t get you what you want, or just plain isn’t interesting, then it’s ok to shift gears and use an approach that works best for you and still brings positive results.
Now it’s up to you…
Make a commitment (and schedule it in your calendar) to create a plan using each of my three guidelines above. If you’re going to reach out to someone and connect without an ulterior motive, get clear on who you’re going to reach out to, what you’re going to do, and when you’re going to do it. Make notes so it’s easy to follow through. And don’t forget to have fun!