I had an epiphany this morning, and ran to my computer to share it with you. It has to do with selling, and the general ‘yuckiness’ many people feel when they sell. The stereotype of the “snake oil / used car salesperson” has a long history and it has stuck with many of us. Who wants to be associated with those people. (no offence to the perfectly honest used car salesperson out there)
So, we know we don’t want to be salesy, but we still need to eat – therefore as entrepreneurs we must sell. What’s a person to do?
I say it is all in the attitude in which we approach selling. For too long we have thought of selling as forcing or coercing someone to buy. What if we realized that selling was actually a customer service? We love serving our customers, we love helping. How can selling be that?
To explain my point, let’s think of a scenario where someone is drowning. They are calling for a life preserver. If you have one, isn’t it wrong not to offer it? What if they were focused on a life preserver, but you had a rope, or a vine – won’t that also save their life, but need to understand it will help them too? Now, this scenario depends on having something they need. If you only have an anvil or a banana, then yes – convincing them that that is what they need in this situation is wrong. But if you truly have the answers they are looking for, you must offer to help them.
Granted, the idea of a drowning person may be extreme, but what if they were hungry, or thirsty, or needed shelter? Would you not also offer to help then? So what if they are fighting in relationships, or had a poorly performing workforce, or were struggling with marketing. Is that really so different? They have a need you are able to fill. You are doing them a disservice if you do NOT make the offer of help.
As I explained my idea for this post to my husband over breakfast this morning, he brought up a good point. “It is fine to use a drowning person as an illustration, but no one charges someone for saving their life.” Point taken. We do expect people to pay for our services. Maybe that is where you are stuck. I get that. In the workforce, we expected to receive a pay cheque for our services. How has our mindset shifted to somehow believe that now that you are solely responsible for the success or failure of your own business it is less acceptable to expect to be paid well for superior services rendered? Perhaps because we now have to ask for payment, create invoices, have a conversation around money – and in the workforce many of us simply accepted what was offered.
Asking for money can be uncomfortable. Asking for the sale can be uncomfortable. But no matter how strange it feels at first, remember the service you provided. Remember the results your clients see. Remember the gratitude of a drowning man saved.
Never keep your life preserver to yourself.
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