When I was in college I worked in a video store on the weekends. As someone who loved movies, it was an ideal job as far as part-time jobs went because you didn’t have to cook food, there was always something to do…because, hello, you’ve got a store FULL of movies!
But there was one part of the job I really, really didn’t like. The dreaded upsell at the cash. For each customer we were supposed to “suggest” that they take home a bag of overpriced popcorn.
It always felt so awkward and it didn’t always seem natural to insert it into the conversation. So I’d avoid offering up the popcorn as much as possible.
Until one day I saw one of my co-workers in action. He wasn’t pulling a “would you like fries with that” approach, he was working the popcorn or other snacks right into the conversation. It was so natural while sounding effortless.
I watched this for a bit and then it dawned on me. I had to think of the popcorn not from the perspective of the store needing to push snacks to be profitable, but that this was a way to enhance the customer’s experience. I mean, who doesn’t want movie snacks?
I learned a valuable lesson that has stuck with me. When it comes to sales, it’s not about you. It’s about the customer and serving them. So you need to find a way to best make the offer to them and you CAN do it in a way that’s not totally cheezy or sleazy.
While video stores are a thing of the past, the same sales principles apply, especially online. Without the face-to-face element it’s easy to end up feeling like you’re being pushy or worse yet, you’re selling out.
First, get one fact straight in your head: Selling is part of your job as a business owner. It’s how you serve your audience and money is an exchange between you and your client or customer so you can continue to be of service.
There’s no point in getting all tied up in knots about the rest of it. Because without sales, you’re going to be working at the modern day equivalent of the video store before long. (Okay, so maybe it’s a 9 to 5, but you get the idea.)
When it comes to selling online, there’s more to it than someone walking into your store, so you need to focus on a few fundamentals to ensure you can sell online without selling out:
#1. Understand Your Unique Advantages
When you talk to successful business owners, there’s one thing that’s always apparent. They have a clear idea of what makes them unique and they use that as a way to stand out.
Instead of playing it safe and doing what everyone else is doing, they find the “thing” that makes them different.
Great in theory, but how do you do that in practice?
A great place to start is by digging into how others see you. One of the most eye opening exercises I’ve ever done is getting 20 people to describe me in 3 words. They came back with things I would have never thought of that define my brand years later. Or check out the Fascination Advantage to see how you fascinate.
#2. Own Your Story
You’re awesome. So please stop apologizing for it.
Did you start a business to be kinda sorta mediocre and scrape by? Or to do big things?
That’s what I thought.
Your story and experience is what brought you to where you are today, and it’s valid. You’re bringing something to your customers or clients, so step up and own it.
That doesn’t mean you need to be a big ol’ braggart, but you owe it to yourself to make clear the results you deliver, why you do what you do and more.
To succeed, you NEED people to believe in you, so if you don’t own it, it’s going to be that much harder for you to sell anything.
#3. Create What Your Audience Really Wants
Do you know what your audience wants? I mean REALLY know it? Or are you guessing?
Very few businesses can get away with creating something and then finding a market for it. For you to sell your thing, you need to create something your audience really wants.
That means not rushing to launch a course, ebook or anything else without doing your homework. There’s absolutely no point in selling something without validating your idea by talking to your ideal customers, understanding the market landscape and more.
It takes time, but it saves you sales heartache later. You’re never at more of a risk of “selling out” as when you’re positively desperate to sell something. So skip it and figure out what else you can sell instead.
#4. Deliver Immense Value for FREE
Before you buy new jeans you like to try them on, right? So imagine suddenly you had to pick jeans and you couldn’t try them on before you committed to the right pair.
The horror! For someone who tries on 20+ pairs of pants before she buys them, this is unthinkable.
Asking someone to buy from you online without the chance to “try you on” is nothing short of as crazy as a department store ripping out all their changing rooms.
Before anyone buys from you, people need to try you on with free content, and not just any free content, your best content. Content so good that they absolutely must buy from you, because imagine how good your paid offer may be.
Think hard about your free content from blog posts to podcasts to emails to free guides. They matter more than just building your list or getting readers. It’s your “try on” moment so make it count.
#5. Be Thoughtful
While you may be working online, you’re still communicating with people. Every email address or social media follower is a person.
When you’re not seeing people in the flesh it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the same fundamentals apply to communicating with people in any realm.
In my mind, this is one of the biggest points of failure for online businesses. People become a commodity and when they’re selling they start to churn and burn through people.
Which is why with all of your sales and marketing you need to be thoughtful:
- How do you want people to feel?
- How can you enhance the experience?
- How you add a human touch?
- What do they need to know to trust you?
- How can you be of greater service?
When you run everything you’re doing sales-wise through a real, human filter, you start to see where you can improve and create lasting connections with all of those people behind the emails.
The Recap – Sell Online Without Selling Out
If you want to sell online without selling out, make service your mantra and focus on how you’re helping. Selling isn’t about you, it’s about your customers and how you can best serve them now and in the future.