How to Take the Icky Out of Selling
If you don’t like selling because it makes you feel pushy and salesy, we understand. Most creative people balk at selling their work—it’s not like working in a shoe store or at Dunkin’ Donuts, we’re selling our creativity. Selling is more closely tied to us, our talents, and our egos. It can feel kind of whore-ish, or like we’re selling our babies. At least on the surface, anyway.
That’s why we don’t even like to think of selling as “selling.” We like to think of it as doing something else instead.
We’re not selling, we’re helping
We sometimes get into a rut with selling and need to change the way we talk to clients. Ed and I don’t like to think of offering strategic branding as selling. We think of branding as a way for our prospective clients to make more money and increase the value of their reputations in their own markets, and since it’s something we can do for them, it’s almost a disservice for us not to let them know about it. When you think of it this way, it’s a lot easier to do. We’re not selling them something, we’re helping them.
Change from “selling” to “helping people buy”
Nobody likes to be sold to. But most people like to buy. So another way of looking at selling to take the icky out of it for you, is to change your approach from selling to helping people buy. The psychology of selling has a lot to do with the value people put on opinions, and the fact is that clients put a lot more value on their own opinions than they do on yours.
When you’re selling, you’re telling your opinion, and often people back away from that—you do it, too. You are suspicious in a selling situation when the salesperson tells you his opinion. The difference with helping people buy is educating. Getting excited about what you’re offering, showing the value in conversational ways, and then letting the client form their own opinions based on what they learn from you makes all the difference. We have had many of our branding clients sell themselves by getting engaged in the helping conversations we have, and then forming their own opinions.
Change from “I hope they buy from me” to “I know something that can help your business”
There is a subtle shift from, “I hope they buy from me,” to “I know something that can help your business.” I like to think of it as virtually going around to the client’s side of the desk. I have even done this in person when I can. I go and stand next to them instead of across from them—if it’s not appropriate to do this physically, do it mentally—so you’re not on opposite sides of the table, both of you are on the same side. The energy of being “on the same side” with a potential client is very powerful. I like to assume that I’ve already won the business before I’ve sold them, and talk about how we will work together to help their business. In this way they see me as a team member instead of an adversary who is trying to sell them something.
Talking about what you know makes it easier
Learn all you can about strategic branding. You don’t have to know any fancy sales tricks. You can be really authentic and just show how excited you are about the strategy of branding, and how taking them through your branding process works. This really gets conversations going and engages clients.
“Selling” the benefits of design is hard. Having conversations about strategy and your clients’ reputations is easy. When clients want to know what you know, it’s an invitation to sell. It also gives you a lot of confidence, which, in turn, makes the whole process easier.
Remember—it’s a disservice not to offer your knowledge to your clients. Don’t hold back during the sales process. Educate them so you can help them buy, and tell them what you know before they buy. This will make them realize they don’t have the details figured out yet for their company—which of course, you can help them with—and they’ll invite you to tell them more. This is what takes the icky out of the sales process and makes it really fun.
If you like this approach and want to learn more about how to engage clients and help their businesses, you’ll want to consider attending our Brand Academy Workshop.