sales strategy

The Most Important Sale You Will Ever Make

The most important sale you'll ever make - it's not your products or services. For small business owners who are selling online, this is the key element to consider when it comes to your sales strategy.

I typically tell people I have a decade of sales and marketing experience because that essentially dates back to my first “grown up” job at Merrill Lynch in 2005. But to be honest, I had “sales” jobs even before that. In high school I applied for this program that involved working for Macy's as basically a teen brand ambassador. At the time, I thought I wanted to work in fashion – and Macy's is basically the only department store in Memphis, Tennessee – so it was kind of exciting. Little did I know, some of my “ambassador” duties included being that annoying girl shoving perfume samples in your face and begging you to just tryyyyy it.

It was – in my typical over-dramatic teenager life – the worst.

Trying to sell stuff to people who aren't interested is bad enough, but being an awkward, introverted 16 year old girl trying to sell (overwhelmingly smelly) perfume to people who aren't interested is a special kind of awful.

I am NOT naturally good at sales.

I am naturally good at shopping when things are on sale, but that's an unrelated skill.

If you are a blogger / small business owner the most important sale you'll ever make is yourself. 

Whether you are selling a product or service, you need an audience to sell it to.

That audience is made up of real people, and if people don't know, like, and trust YOU, they won't buy what you're selling. You have to be able to sell YOURSELF before you can sell any of your products or services.

I'd love to tell you that if your product or service is really amazing, people will buy it anyway… but that would be a lie.

I'd also love to tell you that selling yourself is really easy… but for many people, that's not the case.

I mentioned earlier, I'm not naturally good at sales, but I can sell anything I believe in – to pretty much anyone – because I can sell MYSELF and I'm good at figuring out what people want. 

Full disclosure, since my days pushing fragrances at the mall, I've actually had years of formal sales training. And over the past decade, I've sold everything from multi-million dollar investments in long-short hedge funds to $10 costume jewelry. I've sold products, services, and myself more times than I can count, so I promise you, it's not that hard – IF YOU BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND YOU BELIEVE THAT WHATEVER YOU ARE SELLING CAN HELP PEOPLE.

I tried to re-write that last sentence for maybe 20 minutes because it sounds so touchy feely – and I hate touchy feely – but there's no way to get around it in this case. Believe in yourself. If you are going to let your self-doubt issues prevent you from putting yourself out there, you will absolutely have a hard time selling anything. Get over it. Seriously.

So here's the thing. I know the idea of “sales” makes people feel icky. No one likes telemarketers. No one likes product pushers. No one likes the cheesy car salesman. (I've never even bought a car and I'm not a fan). But if you are reading this blog post, chances are, whatever you're selling isn't lame. Whether you provide a service like coaching / consulting / photography / design or you create digital or physical products, YOU have a serious advantage when it comes to sales:

You are in control of what you are selling and who you are selling it to. 

That's HUGE.

That audience is made up of real people, and if people don't know, like, and trust YOU, they won't buy what you're selling. You have to be able to sell YOURSELF before you can sell any of your products or services.Click To Tweet

Most people who are out there selling stuff are selling someone else's products and services – and they are selling it to whoever their employer tells them to sell it to. That kind of sales is not so fun unless you really like selling.

But if you are creating YOUR OWN products or services to sell – even if you hate the idea of “sales” – YOU GOT THIS.

You're not selling products, you're solving problems.
You're not selling services, you're serving your clients.
You're not selling, you're helping.

Remember that.

3 Reasons No One Is Buying What You’re Selling

3 Reasons No One Is Buying What You're Selling - and what you can do to fix that!

I like to think I'm a really great consumer.

By that I mean, I'm what you call a shopaholic high converting customer.

Sephora has convinced me I need to shop to maintain VIB Rouge status, racking up Nordstrom notes is a sport, and let's not talk about how many things I've purchased thanks to Amazon 1-click / free prime 2-day shipping. But beyond these big names, I'm pretty loyal to some little brands too! For example, I have no less than 3 products from One Love Organics in my bathroom at all times and I regularly re-order Little L's krak'ems for my dog (despite the fact that she has several unopened treat bags from other brands). These guys get it when it comes to their marketing strategy so you can consider me sold. 

So what are they doing right? Lots of things. But let's talk about what they aren't doing wrong. I swear that sentence makes sense but #truelife it's 1am and sometimes things make more sense in my head than online. 

3 Reasons No One Is Buying What You're Selling

There are a ton of reasons why businesses like these are more successful than others – but in particular, these 3 are key things that lead them to getting more sales while you may be missing out!

ONE: You haven't defined your target market

I'm constantly reminding my clients that if you're trying to sell to everyone, you're not attracting anyone. You are not Amazon. If you haven't heard it a million times already, you need to define your niche. “Women” is not specific enough. “Women ages 20-65” is not specific enough. “Women ages 20-35 who have children” is not specific enough. Defining (and researching!) your target market is marketing 101, so if you're serious about growing your biz or blog, JUST DO IT already!

Defining (and researching!) your target market is marketing 101, so if you're serious about growing your biz or blog, JUST DO IT already!Click To Tweet

TWO: No one knows who you are

Build it and they will come? Yeah, that's not a thing. Your product or service or blog or personality could be the best thing ever, but if no one knows you exist – then it doesn't really matter. A marketing strategy isn't just “posting on social media” or “sending products to bloggers” – you need to be clear on the who/what/where/when/whys of your marketing activities. What are you trying to accomplish – driving traffic to your website? Growing your email list? Building community through social media? Probably some combination / all of the above. You need to be clear on your business goals so you can tailor your marketing activities to achieve those goals. Otherwise you're wasting time – and really, no one needs to waste time. Marketing is an ongoing process that needs to be refined and repeated. And refined and repeated again. If you're not putting yourself out there consistently – to the right people – you won't see sales. I'm not going to tell you that numbers don't matter (they do), but having 500 targeted, engaged followers is better than having 5,000 followers who never want to buy what you're selling.

THREE: You're not communicating your value

People are selfish <– that's the truth. You have to give them a reason to buy what YOU are selling. What's in it for them? Just being “pretty” or “affordable” or “fun” isn't enough. Your product or service needs to provide real value to people's lives AND you need to be able to communicate that value. I think some entrepreneurs are predisposed to thinking that their products / services are really awesome and so other people will think they are really awesome too. And then they'll buy them… right? Eh. Maybe. But honestly, it doesn't matter how awesome YOU think your products are… what matters is what your (potential) customers think. Ask yourself how are you are making their lives easier? How are you solving a problem? How are you giving them something that they REALLY want?

If none of these resonates with you – high five! (Yes, that's my dog, giving you a virtual high five).