“Sell” is NOT a Dirty, Four-Letter Word!


Many people taking a look at a business opportunity do so because they want to change their lifestyle. The ability to give their personal income a boost while simultaneously reducing their tax risk is appealing. Combining that with the ability to leverage the efforts of others makes them sit on the edge of their seats. Generating true residual income just about has them salivating! Then…they find out they have to market (which is another word for “sell,” lets be honest) a product, and they’re out the door.

Interestingly enough, you’ll find many professionals exhibit this reaction. Selling is something they don’t want to even discuss, much less do. Yet business owners realize they “sell” all the time, no matter what their industry. Therefore, it’s good to ask: Why do so many fear to sell?

“I Don’t Like Spiders and Snakes”…and Selling!

Does "Sell" Scare You?

Does “Sell” Scare You?

On the Totally Top 10 website, Trixie posted a list of the things people fear most. She observes, “Everyone is afraid of something. Whether these fears are rational or a product of some long-buried trauma can vary from person to person. Whatever the root cause, many people all over the world experience the same fear for various reasons. Year-to-year the exact percentages can fluctuate, but what people are afraid of rarely does.” Number Two on her list was “Public Speaking.”[1] Similarly, on the Self Help Collective website, the author compiled a list of phobias based on the results of a keyword search conducted using the Site Build It! Research tool, Brainstorm It! So his results come from the aggregate searches people performed on the Internet using the keywords “fear of.” On his list, “Public Speaking” is also Number Two. Additionally, “Fear of Rejection” and “Fear of Failure” make his list at Numbers 7 & 8, respectively.[2] Also on both lists were spiders, snakes, flying, and death. So public speaking, fear of rejection, and fear of failure enjoy some very infamous company in the phobia department!

Granted, nowhere on those lists do they mention “Fear of Selling.” Yet public speaking, rejection, and failure are all associated with selling…at least in the minds of many people. To some extent, they’re right. You will at times find yourself speaking in public as an entrepreneur, you will experience rejection (people will tell you “no”), and some things you try will fail. But seriously, how is that difference from anything else in life? If you’ve ever talked to someone on a bus or while standing in line at a grocery checkout, you were speaking in public…and to a stranger at that! Who of us hasn’t heard “no” before, sometimes repeatedly? Children get that all the time from parents, and marriage mates get that from their spouses. From what I can tell, none of us died because of it. In fact, many of us aren’t deterred by “no.” We ask again, and again…and maybe again! So rejection isn’t a problem for most of us in day-to-day life. As for failure, what’s the old adage? “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Thank god we applied that advice instinctively as children. If we didn’t, the first time we fell while trying to walk would have been the “failure” that kept us crawling on all four!

However, there is one other stigma connected with selling that probably holds people back more than all else, and that is…

The Used-Car Salesman (read “Sleazebag”) Image

“Slick Rick,” the Salesman

Generally, when we hear the words “Sales” or “Sell,” this image comes to mind. The pushy, high-pressure, do-anything-for-a-buck, sleazy, dishonest, money-grubbing hack who you wouldn’t trust around anyone and anything you care about is the most common impression of a person in sales. That’s unfortunate, because without someone to sell, the world as we know it would come to a grinding halt. Sales drive industry. Everything you have, someone sold to you. Even if you make your own things (clothing, furniture, etc.), someone sold the raw materials to you. So we appreciate the importance of selling. We just don’t want to be sold, or be the one to sell others, and that goes back to the image of the pushy used-car salesman. No one wants to be “that guy (or gal).”

Overcoming the Stereotype

How can a prospective entrepreneur overcome their aversion to selling? The first step is to adjust their perception of what selling involves. It does not involve convincing, arm-twisting, or pressure. It does involve sharing information in an open and honest way, and asking questions to understand what the other person needs. Then you simply help meet their need. In this way, you’re helping the other person. You don’t have to sell them anything, per se. By answering your questions, seeing how you can address their need, and then deciding what you offer has value, they’re making a decision to buy your product or service. People hate to be sold, but they love to buy things of value.

Arguably the most important step in shifting from a negative selling perception to a positive helping one is belief. You need to believe that what you offer meets a need your customers have. Anything you feel brings value to others, you naturally promote. Ladies share with their friends insider info about a sale taking place at their favorite department store (after scoring their own swag first, naturally). Men will let their buddies know about a sale at their favorite hardware or electronics store. We recommend service providers that do good work. Why? Because all of the above provide value that we want to share that with our friends. The same is true of any product or service we choose to market.

How can we build belief in what we offer? Simple. Use it. Being a product of your product (where possible) is the greatest confidence building tool an entrepreneur can employ. Then you can share stories of how what you’re offering helped you, and the conviction will come off in your voice, facial expressions, and actions.

So, increase your belief level. Be convinced of the value your product or service brings to the market. Know that you are helping others when you offer your product to them, and that they are the real winner when they get it. Ask questions to identify the needs of others and then really strive to meet that need. Be more concerned with helping people as opposed to selling something to them. If you help them, the sales will come. Share stories that help people connect on a personal level with how they can use what you’re offering. Selling isn’t telling; selling is sharing. Doing these things help you see yourself as you really are, a person whose goal is to bring more value to others than they bring to you. As you serve others in this way, the success will come as a result. Your sales are just a natural extension of serving those you meet. Then you’ll realize that “Sell” is not a dirty, four-letter word!

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2 thoughts on ““Sell” is NOT a Dirty, Four-Letter Word!

  1. Pingback: Looking Back to Move Ahead « Back-Office Bulletin

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