It’s not unusual to feel uncomfortable with selling, even selling what we know to be great and worthy products.
That may be because we feel sales is a bit tacky or we just don’t like the idea of bigging up our own work.
The fault lies almost entirely with the sales and marketing industry.
Entry level roles are often low paid and reliant on commission to make it worthwhile.
It should be no surprise that this often attracts low quality sales people.
Low quality sales people achieve poor results leading to high turnover of staff.
High staff turnover discourages businesses from investing too much in training new entrants.
That’s why our memories of poor sales experiences overwhelm memories of good experiences.
I’m sure we all remember cases where a sales person got our name and then used it in every sentence. Dropping someone’s name can be a powerful technique when used carefully, but it’s just plain creepy when it’s over-used like that.
Most of us have probably also experienced sales people who listen to us and regardless of what we say, keep pointing us to the top of the range option, clearly the one with the biggest commission.
Because of those experiences, we forget about the great sales experiences. The kind where we go into a business intending to buy product A. However, the sales person takes the time to ask questions and, based on our answers, suggests we pay 30% less for product B, because we’re not going to use those additional features of Product A.
Marketing the right way
A sales person who listens and recommends the sale that’s best for you, not them, sounds quite noble.
That’s what your marketing can be like.
The Guinness Book of World Records recognized the late Joe Girard as the most successful car sales person for selling 1,425 cars in 1973. He totaled 13,001 sales for the same dealership between 1963 and 1978.
I know very little about him, though he’s on my future reading list, but apparently he followed two key principles. He always told customers the truth and he kept in touch with those he sold to. To the extent that he’d send out cards during the festive holiday and randomly call customers to check all was good with their purchase. I believe I once read, probably in a Joe Sugarman book, that he even encouraged customers to call him rather than the service department if they ever had a problem. He’d then take organize what needed organizing.
If you feel that sales and marketing can be a bit sleazy, aspire to treat your customers like Joe Girard.
When you treat them like that, as long as you keep producing products that offer over-sized value, you’ll never need to sell to them. They will literally want to buy from you.
Blowing your own trumpet
The other big reason many of us can be uncomfortable with selling is it can feel like bragging.
If that’s part of the problem for you, consider this short quote.
It is irresponsible to bring your product or service to the marketplace without the same passion with which you created it.Brian Kurtz, Overdeliver
He attributes that message to Jay Abraham, but the message is what’s important right now.
If you’ve put the work into a product that can change lives, you should feel no reticence in promoting it. On the contrary, you should pursue the act of marketing it with a rabid zeal.
You’ve taken the time to create something that’s a unique creation resulting from your experience and the knowledge you’ve acquired over time.
Feels like a bit of a waste of time if you then let it wither on the vine.
Particularly because more sales equals more success for others.
You set your own boundaries
This next quote directly followed the one above from the book Overdeliver and may help dispel any lingering doubts.
There’s an ethical line each of us won’t cross (which comes down to your personal perspective), and that’s important to define clearly.Brian Kurtz, Overdeliver
Even if some people may make selling and marketing feel like a bit of black art, that doesn’t mean you have to.
You can use your own moral compass to map out the boundaries that you will operate within.
When you create a powerful and valuable product and you know that you’re only going to act to empower your customers, never disadvantage them, doing anything other than confidently and assertively marketing your work is to do a disservice to those who could most benefit from what you created.