It’s not the funnest part of being a business owner but let’s fact it, there’s no way around it. Especially if you’re in a service-based business.
If you sell coaching or consulting packages, or services such as photography, design or health services, then it’s fair to say you have a lot of selling to do in your business. Even when our businesses are predominately online, we have to sell.
And it can feel sleazy. Like, we’re constantly spamming and hassling others to buy from us. It feels inauthentic at times don’t you think? I remember trying to sell my first ever life coaching package in person. I stumbled, mumbled and totally didn’t sign on the client. I felt SO uncomfortable. And I have no doubt that they picked up on that too. #awks.
Selling doesn’t have to be like that though. Regardless of whether you do it in person, online, or via a phone call, the whole process can be done without feeling like an idiot.
Let me be clear here: marketing and selling are really one cohesive unit. When you market, you sell. When you sell, you’re marketing. So when I’m talking about selling, I’m talking about the whole process from when you put out free information related to your service, to the point you say, ‘so when do we start?’. It’s the process of crafting an offer and putting it out to your target market and doing what you need to do to eventually turn them into loyal, loving clients.
1. Create an offer that you truly believe in.
Let’s put it this way: before you sell to others, sell it to yourself first.
I learned this the hard way. Back when I first started out, I crafted an offer based on what I was told to do. The catch was that I wasn’t even clear on what I was selling or who I was selling it too. It was way too broad – and I couldn’t even articulate why it was worth buying. Sounds silly now, but how could I not see that if I couldn’t even understand my offer, how would anybody else?!
Because I was so vague about my offer, I didn’t fully understand it enough to truly believe in it. I mean how could I? I didn’t even understand it!! And this is what I see a lot with my clients. Their offering isn’t clear enough in the first place. And when it’s vague, the less you understand it and the less you believe in it.
This year I introduced a one day intensive to my repertoire of services. I ran a few with a couple close friends to test the idea and I even ran through it with myself. I had gathered enough feedback from this testing phase and from my tribe that I then went to market with it. I don’t offer it cheaply (though still quite significantly cheaper than many business coaches out there) but within a week of putting it on the market, I sold 5 packages. Why? A number of reasons but this was by far the most successful of my services and I truly believe it was because I sold it with confidence.
I know my intensive days work.
I know what outcomes you will go home with and I know you will have incredible clarity and direction in your business. And I truly believed it was worth the price tag. I was already convinced so convincing potential clients was easy.
2. Treat it like a conversation
Most service-based businesses tend to offer a complimentary chat or discovery call to help prospective clients get their concerns or questions answered. I’m willing to bet you offer one. This free chat is essentially a sales call. But most people go about it the wrong way.
Instead of aiming to ‘close’, aim to engage your prospective client in conversation. This is going to be the start of a very special relationship, not the end.
The other point to make is that because selling can be so confronting when in the moment, we may follow a script to help calm the frazzled nerves. Look, if a script works for you, go for it. But hear me out: if your script is taking you away from actually LISTENING to your prospective client, then you’re missing out on vital information and most importantly, showing your prospective client disrespect.
I know you don’t mean it, but it can happen. I remember once talking to someone who I was contemplating working with as my own coach. She was clearly following a script – I could sense it. My career started out as an occupational therapist – I know how to question and I know how to actively listen (ironic considering I’m half deaf I know!). She wasn’t doing that and it totally put me off. Needless to say I didn’t hire her.
Show up and be yourself. Be curious about your prospective client. People dig authenticity and we did someone who listens and understands us. For example, if I want to hire a photographer, I want to know they understand that I can become self-conscious and that I’d love them to be able to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible. They’re only going to know that if they listen to what I say.
3. Focus on the journey, not the ‘product’.
Tangible services, like photographers or graphic designers, tend to be notorious at this. Many sell the service itself – the high quality photos, the impeccable designs. Intangible services like consulting or coaching, try to sell the tangibles like ‘5 1:1 sessions that will change your lifeeeee!’
But that’s not entirely what prospective clients want. Let me share with you a real example.
Last year, Tim and I owner-built our home. It came time to start organising the kitchen so off we went on a hunt to find a suitable cabinet maker. We visited a total of 5 cabinet makers that day. They were clearly excellent at what they do. They all showed us examples of their work and we were suitably impressed. But by the time we got home, we already knew which one we were going to hire.
Why? Because we knew we’d like working with him. For starters, he was incredibly laid back and easy to talk to. He answered our questions honestly, showed us how the process works and how we would communicate moving forward. We thought, ‘Yep, he’d be great to work with!’.
One guy was an instant no-no. He was very rigid in his stance on how the process would work, he came across arrogant and all he talked about was the finished product and what material we just had to use. (And nope, it wasn’t what we wanted!)
Look, the finished product was important. But so was dealing with the guy. I mean, it wasn’t just a one call conversation. It was a journey that we were about to take together.
Remember this: you are not just selling your product and outcome, you’re selling the journey of working with you. It’s a relationship, not a shoe sale. Particularly in the online business world, most people are convinced of your product if they are requesting a free chat with you. They’re most likely using that call to see how they would like working with you.
4. Let the internet work for you.
Here’s my solution to almost everything: avoid as much of it as possible.
Ha! I’m joking. Or am I?!
In all seriousness, being comfortable with selling can take some time. So avoid as much of it as possible in the most proactive way you can: use the internet to your advantage.
What I mean by that is harnessing automation, content marketing and social media as much as you can into your selling process. What I don’t mean is spam everyone all the time. Instead, set up email automations that do most of the selling for you. Provide incredible content on your blog and give as much as possible before even asking for a sale. Use social media to build trust and rapport.
This is all typical ‘marketing’ stuff and like I said at the beginning of this post, it’s all part of the sales process.
Selling is essentially about building trust. You will have to start at ground zero with prospective clients without the internet. Think about all the times you’ve gone to networking events and attempted to explain your services. It’s tough isn’t it? You won’t need to do that if you start building trust through your online presence.
5. Tap into social proof.
Another way to avoid selling? Referrals.
Ah, bless the referral. Word of mouth is absolute gold because the trust has already been established. I spoke about this in this post here.
One beautiful side effect of a referral is that it quite literally is a bit of a confidence-booster. Someone loves what you do enough to go tell someone else about you? Hell yeah! You should feel damn good about that girl. That little extra bit of confidence can really help you nail the sales conversation. You’ll stand a little taller, you’ll speak a little firmer, you’ll smile a little more. And your prospective client will pick up on all of that.
Another way to use social proof is to use testimonials to your advantage. If you haven’t got any, it’s time to talk to your previous clients and get them! Testimonials are a great way to show how others have used you and your services to great success. Again, it builds the trust factor. You could even contact your previous clients and ask if they would be comfortable if prospective clients contacted them to find out more information about working with you. It could be a real booster to your sales.
I know sales can be icky and yes, it will take time for that ickiness to subside. That said, you can learn how to make selling work for you. I’m about to run a free training master class (a webinar in other words) on how to sell out your services, but in the mean time, I’ve created this little cheatsheet for you to use. Click the image below to grab it 🙂