I know I’m not alone in having a squeamish relationship with sales. It’s bizarre when you think about it. We’re in business. If we don’t sell stuff, we don’t make money. Then we have to go back to having what’s generally known as a ‘proper job’. Picture me shuddering as I write that. As much as the security of a salary and a pension would be lovely, I don’t want a boss. And I’ve had some perfectly lovely bosses in my time. (There have been some fairly hideous ones too, but that’s a story for another day.)
Yet when you get into marketing and networking, it almost feels as if you need to apologise for wanting to sell. No-one wants to be seen as ‘salesy’. This is particularly true in women’s networking groups. I don’t like to generalise and (of course) there are always exceptions. It just feels as if we’re generally more apologetic. I took part in a challenge recently that aimed to help female business owners increase their leads and get more sales. It got me thinking about my own attitude to selling and why it makes so many of us feel uncomfortable. Here’s what I came up with.
Why am I like this?
The obvious answer to my sales aversion is that I hate the hard sell, but is there anyone who actually likes it? That’s too simplistic an answer. I realised that most of my earlier jobs were in businesses where sales were someone else’s department. As a lawyer I had to convince people to take a particular course of action but I never had to persuade them to work with me in the first place. I’ve also worked in environments where women in charge were treated differently. Behaviour that would have been perfectly acceptable from a man was seen as ‘bossy’ or ‘pushy’ in a woman. These issues have deep roots but it
certainly feels as if we’re expected to be quiet and not bother anyone.
How my attitude to sales changed
I recently took part in a challenge run by the lovely Gemma Gilbert, who supports mums with service based businesses and helps them to make consistent sales. Her take on selling firmly stomps on the idea that we’re bothering people. We’re in business because we offer a service that will help people. Telling people how we can help them should be, well, helpful. It isn’t diving straight in with a sales pitch. That’s like proposing marriage on the first date. Sales start with telling people what we do and how we help them in our marketing. We build trust so that when we finally say ‘if you’d like me to do x for you, this is how it works’, they decide to buy because they know us.
Part of the challenge was to post on our personal Facebook page telling people what we do. It felt odd as I’d always been told that Facebook actively discouraged business posts on personal profiles. I’d always assumed that people know what I do – turns out a lot of them didn’t. Ultimately, it wasn’t a business post. It was just telling people what I do so that they can support me if they want to. It’s definitely made me more open to talking about work on
my personal social media and in life generally. I need to remember that my network goes beyond business contacts. It’s also taught me that my marketing is
on the right track, I just need to take it a bit further sometimes.
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