Whether you’re in business selling a service or product, are raising money for a cause close to your heart, or just want to “sell” a new idea to your romantic partner or your boss, there are always times when the ability to guide and influence others is an important tool in your toolkit.
But if you are like most of the clients I work with then it may that you struggle with the whole idea of “sales” , maybe feeling uncomfortable about the idea of “influencing” or needing to “manipulate” other people to your way of thinking.
And there’s a good reason for that. You see, if you’re a member of the One of many Community then chances are the reason you are “selling” your product, idea or vision is because you feel called to make a difference to others, or to the wider world, through the work that you do or the impact you want to make.
In other words: You care
Yet the very fact that you care so much can itself be a block to you getting that message out confidently enough to make the difference you know you’re here to make.
For the rest of this article I’m going to refer to small business owners and their clients because this is the group of people I know best, and who I spend my life serving. But what I talk about applies just as well to anything you’re selling – whether that’s a product, a service, a business opportunity, an idea or a vision.
And the question I’m asking today is:
Why IS sales so difficult when you care?
This is a tricky one, because after all, when we really care about our clients and want the best for them then of course we do want them to make that decision to work with us because if they don’t we can’t help them make the change they so badly want – and we don’t get to make our difference in the world
But the very fact that we do care so much makes sales so much more difficult than it could be.
After all, it’s not just about learning a structure is it?
In fact, if it was as easy as teaching the “how to” I wouldn’t even have a business! My clients would have all gone and got themselves some good, old-fashioned traditional sales training a long time ago and be off merrily “closing sales”, “handling objections” and filling up their diaries – long before they ever come across me.
But they don’t. Because really it’s about all the other “stuff”
By stuff I mean:
- A deep-seated suspicion that sales is inherently manipulative, and that’s the last thing you want to do to people you care about
- Feeling drawn to want to help people regardless of whether it’s because you’ve just taken their money off them
- Feeling conflicted about whether it’s even OK to charge money for helping people – doesn’t that make you a “bad” person?
- Fear of coming across as pushy because you only want what’s best for people and so you’d be mortified if anyone thought you were just out for your own gain.
- Not valuing your work enough to charge what you are worth or have confident conversations to invite people to work with you. Because if you don’t believe in it yourself it’s hard to sell it with integrity and integrity is important to you.
And I could go on ….
The problem is that allowing all this stuff to get in the way means that you are not making a difference to as many people as you could. This isn’t good for your business, and it’s definitely not good for the people you could be helping and impacting.
So here’s what you can do to make the process of sales feel more authentic and more aligned with your caring intentions.
1. Shift your focus on to the client
To help you come at sales from a place of caring one of the most valuable things you can do it get absolutely crystal clear about your “ideal client”. Understand his or her pain, problems, desires, fears and emotions in as much detail as you can. When you do this you can’t help form an emotional connection to them. This means you to come to your sales conversations with a fierce desire to help the client, and a focus on what’s best for them (rather than what’s in it for you). When this happens something shifts and guiding someone to a decision to make a change becomes part of how you impact them – not the uncomfortable bit you’ve somehow got to get past before the “real” work can begin.
2. Connect with the value
Feeling under pressure to sell is particularly difficult if deep down you are not convinced of the value of the thing you are offering. Your inner voices might whisper “Is it really worth this much?”, “What if I can’t guarantee a result?”, “Am I really good enough to be doing this?” The truth is that if you don’t 100% believe in what you’re offering then you can’t sell it with conviction or integrity. So it’s important to do the work to connect to your value. This might be keeping a special journal where you record your success stories. Maybe even working for free with a couple of people to prove to yourself that you really are great at this. (There’s nothing wrong with this – it’s how I got started – just don’t do it for too long!).
3. Communicate that value
It’s possible to be absolutely convinced about the amazing transformation you can help your clients to achieve and know that this work is worth every penny of your fees, yet somehow still fail to communicate that to your potential client. When you struggle to articulate this difference then it’s too easy to fall back on trying to cajole, convince and push people to see what you are seeing so clearly. And this feels uncomfortable for everyone. It’s really worth taking some time out to work on communicating the value of what you offer in a way that your client will be able to clearly see for themselves why working with you will be such a good thing to do. When that happens there’s no need to work hard to convince anyone – instead you’ll hear an excited “yes please!”.
4. Follow a structure.
Without a clear structure it’s very hard to take the potential client on a conversational journey that ends with a clear decision to say yes to working with you. Without a structure you can end up in a meandering conversation without a clear focus – this is great for building relationships and hanging out with friends, but not so great when you care about making a difference to others and want them to make a commitment to change.A structure to your sales conversation is what gives you the confidence to be authentic, and to blend in your intuition and compassion. After all it’s not enough that you care about the client – they have to feel that you care too. If you want to get started having authentic sales conversations you can get started with this short video training “The 7 Steps to Yes!” here.
Get comfortable in sales conversations
Finally, here are some ideas to get you started having sales conversations that feel more authentic and comfortable – especially when you care:
- Schedule some research calls with people who fit your client profile and interview them to help you better understand the problems and challenges that they are facing and they language they use to talk about them, and to help you feel more emotionally connected to the people you want to help.
- Buy a beautiful notebook and start using it to capture all the evidence that you really are brilliant at what you do – testimonials, success stories, passing comments from clients etc.
- Write a list of the 10 ways that someone’s life could change for the better as a result of working with you
- Reach out to follow up with a potential client to give them a gentle nudge to go ahead and work with you – and do it because you care about them, not because you want the sale
- Follow a structure so that you can start to feel a greater sense control around your sales conversations.
Learn how to sell with integrity
And if you’d like to take an even deeper dive into how to sell in ways that don’t involve using pushy or manipulative practices then you will love this live session I’ll be doing with Joanna Martin, One of many’s inspiring leader and founder next week:
Harnessing the Women’s PowerTypes to Sell with Integrity
Live Session: Friday 25th September at 12.00pm (UK)
During this live session we’ll be chatting about why traditional sales methods often don’t work for women and how by taking a new softer approach, and harnessing the strengths of the Women’s PowerTypes you can revolutionise both your enjoyment of sales and your results. We’d love you to join us!
Catherine Watkin works with heart-centred business owners like you, who want a great business but don’t want to compromise their integrity. She helps you get more clients saying “Yes Please!” in a way that feels authentic, comfortable and is always in alignment with your values. Catherine believes in sales and marketing that comes from service not selfishness, from caring not coercion, and from love instead of lack.