I’ve been in business for four years now, and guess what? I’m a terrible salesperson. I’m useless, I’m terrible. I can’t make people buy things that they don’t wanna buy. I hear words like sales and close the deal, and it makes me feel anxious.
The beginning of my sales woes
The worst job I ever had was working for a community organization called ACORN. My team was tasked with going around rough neighborhoods in Philly and Chester. I would go door-to-door and try to get people to sign up and pay a membership fee to be a part of the organization. I didn’t feel bad about trying to sell people on this membership. After all, we were doing great things for the community. But going up to strangers and asking for their money was super stressful. And when people said no (which was 99% of people), it really shook me up. I tried my best, but I was very unsuccessful. I hardly raised any money for the organization, and it caused a lot of stress for me.
I worked at this job for about 4 weeks until I finally had enough. I talked to my supervisor after a shift one day, and I told her I didn’t think it was working out for me. To my surprise, she had an immense look of relief on her face. It turns out she was gonna have to fire me in the next few days because I wasn’t hitting my quota.
So back to my point. I’m a terrible salesperson. To be honest, that really concerned me when I opened my business. At the time I assumed that being a great salesman was the only way anyone could get by in business. I thought I’d be cold calling people to sell them on websites and I knew I couldn’t do that very well. I hoped I’d figure it out if push came to shove, but I was just terrified.
But guess what? I’m four years in and I’ve never had to do that. You know why? It’s all because I’m a genuinely helpful dude. I like helping people. I like seeing people better off. I like when I can use my skills to make people have a slightly better life. When I first started out, I saved this helpfulness for one-on-one private interactions with clients. But eventually I started putting out free resources online. I’d show up at events and just aim to be a helpful presence.
Being helpful has been the best thing I ever could’ve done for my business. I now build enough trust in the people I speak with that making sales is the easiest part of the process.
When there’s already an understanding of how we can help each other out. When we know exactly what’s in it for each of us. And when we have established a relationship and built tons of trust. By the time the proposal comes around, I never have to struggle to make a pitch. The prospect is already sold on my services. And I love it!
The truth is, nobody likes being sold to. In retrospect, my extreme aversion to selling in a traditional way was actually a helpful trait. I’m not saying that selling is bad. As a business you obviously need to sell stuff. That’s how you stay in business. Things need to be sold, but the best way to do that is by being helpful. Not by trying too hard to sell.
How to sell by being helpful
In order to sell your product or service, you need to demonstrate how you or your product can help people. You can do that by putting out high quality content that speaks to the heart of your customer and really helps them out.
Chances are, you have information in your head that your audience needs. You can answer their questions. You can lessen their fears. You can clear up uncertainty. You can give them a path forward in a particular area of their life or business that they need help with. You can legitimately make them better off by providing them the information that they’re looking for in trustworthy, friendly, tangible ways.
If you start putting out worthwhile content. And you become the professional that went out of their way, and solved the one thing that was bugging your customer. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll buy from you!