3 tips to take the ick out of selling

A lot of people I talk to have an “ick” reaction to sales. In today’s episode, I’ll show you three things you can do to make “selling” easier. (I use the air quotes because I don’t actually believe in selling – more on that in a minute!) Video below, scroll down for the text version.


  • Why sales gets a bad rap (spoiler: it’s well deserved!)
  • 3 things you can do to make “selling” easier
  • What to do instead of selling

If we’re going to declare something to be “icky” – let’s begin by getting clear on what, exactly, that icky thing is!

I looked up the definition for selling in the dictionary. Here’s what I found:

It starts off innocently enough…

to exchange (something) for money

to make (something) available to be bought

It doesn’t work. It’s over-priced. But if you order before midnight, you get the “fast action bonus.”

I like this definition and for ME it ends there.

However, as the infomercial guy would say…

“But wait! That’s not all!”

The definition continues (emphasis mine):

to give up property or money in return for something else especially foolishly or dishonorably

to dispose of or manage for profit instead of in accordance with conscience, justice, or duty

to impose upon

a) to cause or promote the sale of
b) to make or attempt to make sales to
c) to influence or induce to make a purchase

Synonym: to cheat

That’s where selling’s bad reputation begins.

Selling often amounts to getting someone to do something they don’t want to do.

We see this angle all over the place when we look at books and programs that purport to teach us how to sell: learn how to persuade, how to influence, how to convert, how to make sales, how to get people to say yes.

When asked to imagine a “sales person” a lot of people think of the stereotypical used car salesperson, the timeshare seller…or the last person who induced them to purchase something they didn’t want.

Have you ever noticed? People hate the car sales guy…but love buying new cars?”

People love to buy – and they hate to be sold.

This is why I don’t believe in selling. No one wants to be sold. Instead:

Stop selling. Make it easy for people to buy.

Before you tune out because you’ve heard this before. (I, too, have taken sales courses where selling has been “re-framed” as “helping people buy” – but the same old manipulative sales techniques were taught.)

Making it easy to buy starts with 3 things:

  1. Offering a valuable product or service
  2. Finding the right people to buy it
  3. Clearly describing what that product or service will do for the person buying it

Let’s look at each of those in a bit more detail:

1. Offer a valuable product or service at a fair price

This is really hard to pull off if you have any ethics.

That sounds kinda old-fashioned, doesn’t it? But offering a great product or service is at the foundation of a successful business.

This is what leads to building a good reputation, getting testimonials and word-of-mouth advertising.

So start there.

I once met someone at a networking event who introduced his business as: “my friend roped me into this thing…”

Conversely, I recently heard someone say with 100% rock solid confidence: “I know my program works. Everyone who takes it gets results. I guarantee it.”

Which person do you think had an easier time “selling”?

If you’re a caring and ethical person, you won’t be able to sustain promoting something as “valuable” if you actually don’t believe the claims.

And it will be really hard to confidently tell someone your price if you think you’re over-charging.

A good price for your product or service will meet 3 criteria: the numbers work for your business, the price feels good to you and it feels fair to the person buying. (More on pricing here: how much should I charge?.)

I need that. I want that. I’m willing to pay.

2. Find people who want to buy it

Ah, yes, Captain Obvious makes another appearance.

But this is a really common mistake. As soon as you find yourself trying to convince someone or persuade them, you’re off track.

Your ideal clients are the people who – if they clearly understood what your service can do for them – would willingly (even, excitedly!) buy it.

This means that what you’re offering will either solve a problem for them or help them get what they want.

And they need to want to solve that problem or get that thing they want enough that they’re willing to pay money to get it.

Your potential clients will want what you have to offer – and be ready, willing and able  to buy it.

3. Clearly communicate what your offer will do for them

Having trouble making a connection with your potential clients?

To connect with potential clients, you need to communicate to their interests. We are all tuned into WII-FM: what’s in it for me?

Too often, we lose sales because we’re talking about our services from our own perspective.

We’re giving the specifics: sessions, treatments, coaching – or the how: insightful questions, hormone therapies, coding.

Or, worse, completely losing them with jargon: NLP, CSS, moxibustion.

What potential clients are looking for is: will this solve my problem? How will your service help me get what I want?

Tell them what’s in it for them: get unstuck, reach your goals, relieve your back pain, get your website functioning properly, end hot flashes.

Making your services “easy to buy” requires the right offer, the right clients, the right words

Effectively selling your services begins with:

  • Offering a quality product or service at a fair price
  • Finding clients who need and want it
  • Clearly communicating the link between what they want and what you’re offering – in the words that they would use

And there’s nothing “icky” about any of that. 🙂