We all know the image of the slimy salesman, often someone selling used cars with dishonesty and high pressure tactics. I see so many self employed business owners who don't want to participate in "sales" because they're afraid of becoming this slimy salesman. As with anything where fear comes into play, a good first step is to examine the facts. The truth of the matter is that modern sales tactics tend to downplay or ignore high pressure tactics of yesteryear (or "Depression Era Sales" as Larry Kendall names it.) Modern sales tactics are probably things you already employ in your self employed business: providing a value to someone already interested in what you have to offer; being honest and full of integrity. Let's look at how these sales paradigms differ in more detail:
Deceit vs. Integrity
In Depression Era Sales it was all about making the sale no mater what. You didn't need to like your product, you didn't even need to think it was a good product. Bold face lying was fair game, and dissatisfied customers were of no consequence to the salesman.
This strategy of deceit makes no sense for any self employed business where you work closely with customers. If I sold you on the idea that I could make you a millionaire in 3 months through my coaching, at the end of three months you're going to be disappointed and looking me square in the face wanting a refund. Lying just doesn't make sense!
In modern sales tactics, integrity goes a lot further. As consumers, we've learned to suss out when an offer is too good to be true. We avoid people and businesses that seem to offer something that's unreasonably good. For this reason it's imperative that modern sales people (and everyone who's self employed) offer only results that they're confident in. If you find yourself saying that your service or product could help EVERYONE, that sounds somewhat fantastical and it's time to get more specific so you don't turn off potential clients. Otherwise, the sales tactic is a simple as telling the truth!
Pressuring vs. Listening and Providing Value
One of the things we hate about the slimy salesman is how they pressure you to buy. They artificially create reasons you need to buy right now! Consumers often leave situations like this not confident that they made the right decision, or even worse: with buyer's remorse!
As a self employed business owner, you don't want your precious clients to have buyer's remorse, and nether do modern sales people! Instead of pressure, or pushing clients into something they may or may not want, modern sales tactics encourage listening to clients and providing them with value. It's guiding and providing someone with what they truly want, rather than pushing them. It's so much more pleasant for everyone involved!
A client is going to be much more appreciative if you accurately understand what they're looking for, and if you can't provide that, then you send them to someone who can help. You provide value whether that comes from you or from elsewhere. This integrity comes back in the form of appreciative clients who do need your services, and referrals from those (clients and other professionals) who trust your honesty.
Scarcity vs. Abundance
All this boils down to a fundamentally different world view: one of scarcity vs. one of abundance. Depression Era Sales instructed that there were a limited number of sales out there and that the (slimy) salesman needed to do everything they could to land the sale. In this context it makes sense why a salesman would employ deceit and high pressure tactics: they're scrambling to try and gain access to a limited commodity. However this also leads to a lot of stress for the salesman and a schism with their internal sense of integrity. Not to mention souring consumers and making them less likely to buy, or even listen to the slimy salesman's pitch!
Modern sales tactics come from a place of abundance: there is enough. Provided you're not selling washboards in the era of the electric washing machine, there are people looking for the product or service you sell as a self employed business owner. You merely need to correctly identify those folks, and only focus on the folks who are interested. This takes much less effort and means you can stay in a place of integrity. It also makes for a much more pleasant experience for your customer, and that in turn leads to a higher likelihood of referrals. That little bit of effort you put into a client can result in even more returns through anyone they refer.
Sales has Gotten a Bad Wrap
After this discussion, maybe you can see that sales has gotten a bad wrap. When you think about sales, are you imagining a Depression Era slimy salesman or a modern sales person operating from a place of integrity? When you're self employed, you are going to be a salesman on some level, so you get to decide if you're a slimy salesman or if you're going to come from a place of abundance and employ modern sales tactics. Stay tuned for more thoughts on selling with integrity, or contact me if you just can't wait to talk more!