How to Sell Without Selling
by Ellen Williams, Regional Development Director, Constant Contact
Don't like selling? Many business owners don't, but your success depends on it. Here's how you can get the sale without actually selling.
You’re a business owner, not a salesperson—I get it. But, in order for your business to be successful, you do have to sell your product or service. I have some great news for you: the most effective method of sales isn’t the in-your-face hard sell you’re likely envisioning. Let’s use a real life example. Say it’s the first time I met you and we struck up a conversation. Then, all I did was talk about myself and what I wanted you to do for me. Would you continue to talk to me? I think it’s safe to bet that the answer would be no. The same applies to marketing your business—it can’t be a one way street. Think about ways that your customers can benefit from your interaction. Then they’ll be more likely to pay attention, engage with you, and yes ultimately buy your product or service.
Following are some tips to help you master that art of selling without actually selling:
Give your audience a reason to like you
In social media marketing, or really any form of marketing, you rarely want to talk about yourself. This might seem counter intuitive but if you talk about things your audience cares about, educate them about the topics you are an expert in, and let them share their thoughts, they will be much more willing to listen to you when you do talk about yourself.
Remember, you are an expert in whatever you do and your audience knows that. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and build relationships with your customers. For example, if you are a hair salon owner, offer a daily tip about how to do your hair. This can be anything from “Tip: If you’re going to curl your hair, make sure you do not wash it for 12 hours before curling,” to a video tutorial about how to style your hair for a black tie event.
When you show off your expertise, your customers will appreciate you for educating them about the things they’re interested in. Also, the next time they are looking for a hair salon, they’ll think of you first because you gave them such great tips on how to do their hair at home.
Let your audience talk about themselves
No surprise here: people love to talk about themselves. Tap into that urge. Ask your audience questions related to your brand or create a poll and let them participate. The best thing about doing this is that you’re not only increasing engagement but you’re learning who your audience is, what they’re interested in, and what they’re looking to learn from you.
Make your audience laugh
So many people are afraid to post things that are not directly related to their brand. This is a fear you need to overcome. Again, we return to the hair salon. You can post a picture of a dog having a bad hair day and have a caption that says, “Looks like Fido should have come into the salon today.” You can also go a little further off topic but make sure to bring it back to your audience.
Use the 80/20 rule
Now comes the part where you get to promote your business—yes, you can still do that, of course! The key is to stick to the 80/20 rule for your content. By building relationships with your customers and ensuring 80% of your content is for them, you can then throw in 20% about yourself without the fear of scaring them away. Since you’ve engaged your customers with the valuable information they’re looking for, allowed them to talk about themselves, and entertained them, they’ll be willing to listen to your promotions without feeling like they’re just another person you’re selling to.
Not a salesman? That’s perfect! People don’t want to be (overtly) sold to. There are numerous ways to spin your content so you are selling them without making them feel like you’re selling them. This is the key way to build engagement and relationships.
Related: How to Influence People without Manipulating Them
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Ellen Williams, Constant Contact Regional Development Director, New York and Southern Connecticut
Ellen has over 20 years of technology and marketing experience and has presented to over 4,000 small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Her advice on best practices help organizations understand how to build great customer relationships that inevitable grow their businesses.