We build businesses. Even little ones.

We build businesses.
Even little ones.

How To Take The ICK Out Of Selling

We’re on a roll here since the original How To Double Your Revenue and Profit article, so we’re going to continue full steam ahead into something else may be screwing your bottom line.

It’s this completely unnecessary feeling that it’s “icky” to sell things.

Just because some people come off icky when they’re selling doesn’t mean you automatically do. In spite of a few people who will complain about anything, people do NOT automatically think you’re icky when you sell your stuff.

(After all, do you complete every purchase you make by taking a cold shower to rid you of that dreadful experience? That would make buying your next drive-thru meal a little awkward.)

Feeling icky about selling is a pretty significant psychological block, and we’re going to talk about how (hopefully) to finally end the drama over that.

Without turning yourself into a used-car salesman in the process.

Now, a little word about commerce.

The coin of commerce has two sides – the buyer’s side, and the seller’s side. You spend the vast majority of your life on the buyer’s side. You go to the grocery store, you open catalogs, you go to your dentist, etc..

All day long you’re buying stuff. Nothing weird about that. You’re doing what every other consumer on Earth does – you’re trading cash for stuff you want.

However, when you become the seller, nothing quite prepares you for the transition. (Unless you’ve taken sales courses, in which case you stopped reading long before this.)

When you’re the buyer, you have to decide. When you’re the seller, you have to persuade. It’s a whole different ballgame.

And because it’s a whole different ballgame, it feels weird. It’s a bit of cognitive dissonance at work – something doesn’t feel quite right. You hesitate at asking for a sale. You feel pushy if you do. You wonder if you look like those people who hassle you at the mall to tell them what you’re looking for when you’re just BROWSING, damn it.

Of course it feels icky. You’re used to telling sales people “no,” but the only ones you really remember are the ones who were pushy and you had to say “NO!” to, and it’s really easy to project that strong emotion onto the people whom you are selling to.

I could go on for fifty pages on that, but let’s sum it up this way:

When someone says no, it tends to feel like they’re rejecting you, not your offer.

But in reality, they are only rejecting your offer. Not you. And that’s important in removing the ick factor.

The key to selling with any level of confidence is to remember that people are really, really accustomed to commerce. It’s actually no big deal to them.

Look around at the world of everyday commerce and see how you don’t get all weird about it.

It only becomes a big deal or weird when you’re an ass about it.

When you’re in the mall food court and the guy at the Chinese place offers you a sample you don’t flip out. You tell him no if you don’t want it. Or, in some cases, you might totally ignore him if you’re in a rush. Unless he’s a pushy ass about it, it’s no big deal.

Now, when you’re hungry and he offers you a sample, you’re actually pretty thrilled at the prospect. You’re interested in eating, so it’s a different story.

Let’s talk about that different story. It’ll take the ick out.

Imagine for a moment that the people on your list or blog actually might want to buy your stuff.

You know why that guy at the Chinese place is standing there handing out samples with absolutely no fear of looking icky?

Well, he’s at the food court. Chances are, if you’re walking by, you’re in the market for lunch. It’s not an unusual offer.

However, if he was standing in the parking lot or the department store trying to pawn off little bits of lemon chicken on toothpicks (shouldn’t he be wearing gloves?), it WOULD feel weird. Dude, time and place.

That’s why he’s at the food court. He’s selling to people who are likely to be interested in what he’s selling. And that’s why people don’t think he’s icky.

Look at your ittybiz for a moment.

You probably have a website, a list, or both.

Those website visitors are at your site because they are interested in whatever it is you’re about. Those list subscribers are there for the same reason.

Chances are, they ARE interested in a little commerce.

Of course, some people aren’t, in the same way teenagers and power walkers hang out at the mall with no intention of buying anything. They are there for their own reasons.

But everyone else? They’re showing up because they’re interested.

And interested people don’t think you’re icky when you offer them opportunities to buy.

What this means for you.

Imagine there are a fair number of people who are visiting your website and/or subscribed to your list who are theoretically interested in buying what you are selling.

Now, imagine how you would approach selling to an interested party – someone you wouldn’t have to convince.

(This is important. Details will follow.)

If you’re dealing with someone you don’t have to convince, you would simply focus on making opportunities to buy available. You would drop links in your newsletters or articles. You would mention your products and services on a frequent and consistent basis.

In other words, you would consistently remind people that commerce is taking place. Casually in some cases. Overtly in others. And it wouldn’t be weird.

The weird part comes if you’ve never done this before. If you walk into a Wal-Mart and there’s a promotional display for cases of Pepsi, you don’t feel weird about it.

If you walk into your local library and that same promotional display is there, yeah, it’s weird. That would definitely feel icky.

However, if the library started selling stuff, and they did it for long enough, it wouldn’t feel icky anymore. It would just feel like what happens at a library. after a while, your library has ALWAYS sold Pepsi.

It’s no different with your ittybiz.

If you’re not consistently conditioning people to commerce taking place on your home turf, then it is always going to feel weird to them when you finally promote something.

In that case you keep flip-flopping between “no commerce” (when you’re not promoting) and “all commerce” (when you are). It’s jarring.

But if you start integrating commerce in both casual or overt ways, then it’s only weird for a brief transition time, and then it’s business as usual. Selling isn’t jarring, or icky, or pushy.

You’ll notice in our articles that we talk about our consulting clients frequently. Just casually, off the cuff, like in this post. That way, when we open up consulting for new clients and tell our list about it, it’s not icky or weird. They know we sell this stuff on a regular basis.

Lesson to be learned here. Savvy?

If selling feels icky, you’re most likely in the transition phase, and all you really need to do is do it more often. Think of the interested people in your audience – and only the interested people – and promote to them.

Use the language and approaches you would use with INTERESTED people, and you’ll be fine.

Yes, the non-interested people will complain. Actually, the non-interested for the most part will ignore the promotions because they don’t care.

But there will be a small percentage of people who enjoy writing you nasty emails saying HOW DARE YOU SELL TO ME I AM JUST HERE FOR THE FREE STUFF THAT’S ALL I WANT. (And yes, it will usually come in all caps.)

There’s a “Delete Email” button for that.

The caveat! (And we do have one)

Now, it’s only fair to talk about one important factor that may be contributing to a potential icky selling situation.

That occurs when the thing you’re selling doesn’t match up with the reason your audience member is there in the first place.

If you have a personal development blog or a web design blog or a healthy eating blog and you decide to start selling marketing training and “make money online” products, for example, there’s a confusion that’s going to be experienced by your audience members.

They came to for X and you started selling them Y. Essentially, they walked into the food court and now you’re selling them shoes. They’re going to feel really weird about the exchange. It doesn’t match up to the reason they were interested in the first place. It will feel icky.

Now, the disconnect doesn’t always have to be so drastic. You could be running a personal development / motivational blog and you’ve decided to start selling nutritional products or books. Technically that’s personal development, but it’s not quite the motivational stuff people came for.

When there’s a small disconnect, people are going to feel like you’re selling something they didn’t sign up for. That feels slightly icky.

When there’s a big disconnect, the icky feeling increases.

And in either case you’ll tend to have to sell HARDER to these non-interested people, and you’ll have to convince and persuade them to buy your stuff, and that will feel icky because it is icky. You will have to persuade them to want something that’s not in line with the reason they walked into your metaphorical store.

The trick here is to make sure your content is consistent enough in relation to what you’re selling that the only people attracted to you in the first place are the people who are likely to buy.

THOSE people are interested. And interested people don’t find commerce icky.

How to make that content? That’s out of the scope of this article.

But worry not, because we are going to be releasing a new class next week that tells you how to do exactly that.

See what happened there? We mentioned commerce, casually.

Do that. A lot.