If you feel sleazy about selling, you're not doing it right.
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
One of the most common things I hear from my clients is, "I hate selling", or "I can't sell". They tell me they feel they need to take shower after being engaged in a sales call: Selling makes them feel 'sleazy' and 'hair-slicked-back-used-car-salesman-ish'. Ew.
Having spent over two very successful decades working in roles from sales representative to VP sales and everything in-between, I can honestly say I absolutely love selling. No, I haven't been on the bottle. I really do love sales. Why? Because I know and have always known that when I sell a product I believe in, I'm doing something really good for the person I'm selling to. I'm helping them reach their goals, change their lives, realize their dreams, support their families. I'm helping to make their lives better. It changes the energy completely. And potential customers and clients feel it.
So fear not! When you get it right, selling can be a brilliantly rewarding, exciting, "I freakin' love this" kind of activity. If it feels icky or sleazy, pay attention to these four essential elements because one or more of them needs attention.
1. Believe in your product.
Whether your product is physical or service-based, when you're thoroughly convinced that it's valuable, when it does what it says it does, when you'd buy it if someone sold it to you, then you have rock-solid belief in it. And it will show. If you're not completely bought into your product, if you're not 100% invested in it, you'll feel sleazy and dirty every time you try to sell it. And the chances of your selling it are slim to none. People buy your enthusiasm, your belief, and your passion. Despite customers and clients wanting the product, they actually buy you. Whether you're selling candles in a store or selling an online course, people buy from you because they feel good around you. And they'll feel good only when you do.
Next time you feel sleazy when you sell, check in with that feeling and ask yourself if you truly believe in what you're offering. If not, it's time to revisit.
2. Believe in your ability to follow through.
In the absence of rock-solid, unshakeable confidence that you're able to deliver the value you're selling, you'll feel like a complete sleaze-bag whenever you engage in a sales conversation. You'll feel like a fraud, a cheat, and - to be blunt - you'll feel like a liar. On the one hand you want to make the sale but on the other, you're terrified that if you do you'll be exposed. You won't believe your own words and you'll rush through your sales conversations as fast as your mouth will move! It's easier to speak mistruths in the absence of direct questions, so you'll employ strategies to keep your customer quiet. You'll talk more than listen (the biggest mistake sales people make!), speak really fast to get it over with, and get louder if your client tries to ask a question.
If you know you can't follow through, revisit your offer. Focus on your strengths and play to them. Get into your genius zone and find your flow. Build your offer around what you feel superbly confident doing. Do what you do best; not what someone else does best. Selling what you're good at carries a confident, reassuring energy that helps people buy from you. And when you know you can deliver, your sales conversations flow easily.
3. Check your motivation
Can you recall a time when you were being sold to and you knew the person was desperate to make the sale? It's really off-putting, isn't it? It carries a desperate, anxious, "Please buy from me or my family will starve" kind of energy. It's a sure-fire way to turn your customers off. Similarly when someone is selling only for their own gain, the energy is really off-putting. Like the time I went to buy a new car and was about to say "I'll take this one in bright red!" and the salesman openly boasted to his colleagues that he was about to close the "one more sale" he needed to win the trip to Turks and Caicos, I couldn't get out of there fast enough. Had he told me that after I'd bought the car, I would have been delighted that my buying it had helped him win that trip. If you deliver amazing service and products, people will be happy to learn how they've helped you. But if you tell them how they're going to help you by buying what you're selling, you'll turn them away.
Check your motivation for selling what you're selling. Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with making money! But if your energy comes from a place of greed and self-service, it will be horribly apparent in your interactions with potential customers and clients. It won't feel good for you or them. When you're selling, always put your client at the centre. Focus on them, not yourself. Focus on what you can do for them, not what they're doing for you. Over deliver, give everything you've got to help them, really want to do something good for them. You need to feel it in your bones. When you come at sales from this perspective, selling feels fantastic. Because you know that every sale you close is another opportunity to make someone's life better. And that's a gift. How can that ever feel sleazy?
4. Earn the right to sell?
Have you ever tried to get someone's business before you've become acquainted?
It's safe to say you'll never hear back from people when you do that, simply because you haven't earned the right to sell. They don't know you. You wouldn't walk up to someone in Starbucks and say, "Ooh, you have lovely hair and can we be best friends?" That would be really weird. You wouldn't dream of doing it.
People want to get to know you. If you rush it, potential customers will run for the hills and you'll be left alone at your own party. As you tell yourself you were right, you can't sell, and you're a failure (none of which is true, by the way), you'll attempt to drown your sorrows in Netflix and chocolate until the next time you give it another go. But now you're feeling more self conscious and more sleazy than ever. Your energy will be hugely off-putting and you'll be shunned again. You then feel more desperate and your energy becomes even more unappealing to potential customers. More Netflix. More chocolate. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Take the time to 'court' your customers. Let them get to know you and get to know them. Be kind and helpful. Nurture relationships, offer real help, hold nothing back. Create a really positive, welcoming energy. Allow people to get to know, like, and trust you. When they do, you won't have to sell thing.
Selling is a process, not an event.
Getting the sale takes time and effort. Treat your sales relationships as you would any other. Get in your genius zone, find your flow, find your people, get to know them, and let them get to know you. Be helpful, be genuine, and be kind. Put your customer first. Always. And the sale will come to you.