I hate selling – save me from this small business torture!

Quote on perserverance relates well to enjoying selling

Do you hate selling? Done the way so many profess, it’s no wonder. That pound them until they’re sure to relent strategy is painful for both the perpetrator and the victim.

Think sending dozens of e-mail message during the course of a week – or day – is much different than old-school manipulative selling? Sure, those on your list can unsubscribe (count me among them), delete or conclude you’re not physically in their face so it’s not invasive, but how do you feel when someone badgers you for a sale? Imagine your prospect’s perspective.

It’s sad so many people screw up selling. That’s probably why most of us find it so distasteful. Selling isn’t about bullying, manipulating, deceiving or conniving. It involves smart strategies that build relationships. In fact, with thoughtful marketing approaches, there’s no need for a small business owner to coerce a sale – the prospect will ask you to help them understand what it takes to work with you.

Marketing is magnificent

Quote on perserverance relates well to enjoying sellingHow can you, as a small business owner, develop ideas that ensure you never utter the words “I hate selling” again? It’s not so hard.

First, stop thinking of sales strategies as akin to a lottery win. Done right, business prosperity doesn’t come overnight. Most of those who profess proven instant results are either anomalies or outright tricksters. If you have any doubts, ask yourself why these folks claim to have made millions yet are still pandering for customers on the internet.

If you’re truly committed to a marketing strategy that works, think long-term – and fun. You should smile as much as your prospects do when they receive your spot-on, clever comments. Whether this is generated online, in person (speeches, meetings, events, etc.) or as part of your written communication campaigns, if everyone involved is nodding and chuckling, you’re on the right track.

3-D campaigns are a great way to get into doors otherwise closed to you (snail mail is more memorable now than ever with most resorting to thumbs for communication). This can be done with inexpensive products provided you craft creative and relevant messages and strategies.

Imagine an administrative assistant marching into his president’s office demanding she immediately open the third installment of a three part series (OK, now even the president’s personal mail is opened by another) after he witnessed what was delivered in the first two (she had to share it with him because it was so entertaining). This eliminates the need for an awkward cold-call introduction and sales pitch – all you have to do is say “we sent you the Chinese finger puzzle with instruction to insert fingers in each end then call us when you get stuck.”

“If you build it they will come” is misguided

Most new small business owners believe merely opening their doors (with a physical or virtual site) will draw masses. It doesn’t work that way. Be ready to spend two years building a network and referral base. It’s usually sudden, at about the two-year mark, when that gratifying moment comes as you realize you have more clients than time to support and a slew of prospects waiting in the wings. Those relationships you build during ramp up time come back to you unexpectedly in remarkable ways.

Top five tips for marketing smart

In the next blog post, you’ll enjoy more detail and some specific action items you can easily employ to integrate these strategies for little or no cost, but these are some of the most effective tools I’ve employed over the past 25 years to spur business revenue:

  1. Build a referral network
  2. Go for quality over quantity
  3. Assemble a team
  4. Forget about features & benefits – get paid for what others provide for free
  5. Have fun

Does the idea of selling keep you up at night? Quit that. Selling is a dirty word the way most people do it. I hate selling too – but get giddy about creative, outlandish small business marketing strategies. Such an approach eliminates the need to sell to anyone. Done right, people will approach you, feeling privileged by the opportunity to call you part of their team (it takes time to get to this point – persevere through the launch phase and you’ll be surprised when someone you forgot about remembers you with unexpected and lucrative referrals).

Sign up for free (on the right column of this blog) to be sure to get details on how you can implement the five tips above to help you craft a customized strategy for small business prosperity. If you want some help with strategy or copy, send an e-mail with the subject line “I Hate Selling” to NLevin@FulcrumNY.com and I will respond to your query personally.


14 responses to “I hate selling – save me from this small business torture!”

    • Thanks for reading, commenting and the kindness of the share, Kelly. Can’t wait to see what you do with your book. I know you’ll have tons of fun selling that and so will anyone who reads or hears what you have to say about it ;-).

  1. Hi Nanette,

    As usual, your post is thought provoking and real. Yes, we hate it when people try and sell us stuff. What do I need really? There is so much available to me, everywhere I look. It is refreshing when someone takes the approach where not a whiff of selling is present.

    • And it’s not so hard to nudge people to buy (or refer business our way) without selling, Amy – and long-term, more lucrative. People enjoy buying from those they’ve come to appreciate. There really is no need to get aggressive (which I believe is quite counterproductive over time – both in striving to feel good about ourselves and also in building a loyal referral and client base).

  2. Nanette,
    Great positive post with some good tips for moving through the whole sales process. As an artisit I do find the “selling” part a bit difficult. Do you have any suggestions for us creatives??

    • Hi Sue – as a creative myself (former provider of illustrations for publications – more accurately, one who peddled my portfolio effectively for unexpected seeming riches during my college years before I burnt out after shifting to work-for-hire projects), currently with writing as my go-to craft, I understand.

      There are so many ways artists can use their creativity to find an audience. Maybe I’ll cover that more fully in a future post.

      The short answer is, figure out how what you do (or can do) appeals to a niche audience. In my college years (art was not my major – just a passion I had to feed) I suppose I was lucky to find business pubs with lifestyle sections needing illustrative support content that felt like big bucks to me at the time for work I did in high school. Couldn’t believe they’d then give the drawings back! Not the initial intended audience for the work, but it proved to be an interesting and fun revenue stream.

      These days, I’m seeing a huge demand (and very few providers) for horse comics. I’m going to give it a shot (my other site is all equine). There seems to be a big industry grab for anything affordable that’s horsey related that’s unusual and fun (think mugs, t-shirts, caps, wine glasses, framed reprints, etc. with a single complete story frame captured). The few pertinent comics are spread around like crazy. Have a long learning curve out of my former comfort zone, but will enjoy the challenge (which I may fail at, but I’ll have fun trying).

      I get these two examples probably sound outlandish to a professional artist (something I’m not), but as a fellow creative, I can tell you, finding a way to get a little crazy with how you make your work appealing so it builds buzz (got story boarding and other contracted jobs from pub insertions with artist credit) and creates unexpected revenue is priceless. Sometimes it helps when you look for opportunities by adapting talents to offer what’s wanted beyond your normal realm.

  3. Yuppers….I do hate selling…it’s just hard to find the right ‘speak’ that lets them know about your product without seeming pushy or ‘full of yourself’. I have found the best approach for me is ‘word of mouth’ from past clients and customers. It is a slow process, but a lasting one. Great read!

    • Me too, Debbie. Word-of-mouth is incredible once you have the traction to make it so. It’s so hard, though, for start-ups to be patient enough to get there (usually about two years). You also do a wonderful job not selling (while attracting clients) with your website and blog. Plus, you’re focused on a niche with a ton of prospects (loving pet owners). Then there’s your talent at capturing the personalities so artfully. I’ve been “not selling” in the marketing industry for more than 25 years. Funny how that works contrary to what so many preach.

  4. After several disastrous sales jobs in my youth, I came to the conclusion that I was no good at sales and avoided any job where I had to sell things. But at least part of that was working for companies that insisted on the hard pitch school of salesmanship, plenty of cold calls and badgering potential customers.

    Then when I was unemployed I was told “you have to sell yourself to employers” and that did not sit well at all.

    • Selling is a matter of perspective, Scott. Old school (and apparently new school now) suggests done right, it’s manipulative. My take on this (with decades of testing to prove it) is the prognosticators are wrong. There are easier ways to get noticed, remembered and appreciated than what’s the norm. Building strong relationships is a whole lot more comfortable for me than taking a hammer to the task. Perhaps you can learn to enjoy the task when you create a different reality around what selling means?

  5. There were so many great points in this article. I truly believe that everything we do in life has to do with the relationships we build.

    I found it quite interesting that you commented that it takes a full two years and then a person has more clients than they know what to do with.

    I am looking forward to your next installment on this topic!

  6. For myself, I love the idea of selling as an opportunity for mutual thriving. Once again Nanette you’ve provided a pragmatic and kind approach to something that so many find challenging.

  7. Great point, Elda. Relationships are so important. Few people recognize the value of face time, dismissing it as too expensive (travel costs) or too time consuming. It’s tough to build a fantastic referral network if you don’t at least talk to people (phone, Skype, Hangouts all work too if distance is a barrier)

    Next installments are started, but I’m having some unexpected challenges with a new home purchase (Monday was the closing date) so it will likely be a few more days before I “get back to business.”

    On the two year mark, I have found that to be almost universal in the small business world. Some flukes occur, of course, and some should never be in business, but for the most part, if you do your legwork building a network, dividends at this anniversary are remarkable. Sometimes I see people give up when only a few more months will bring them to their dreams. It’s sad.

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