I’m very much a believer in selling by helping.
‘Selling by helping’ prioritises value to the customer over actually making a sale. This doesn’t mean solving all of their problems or giving everything away for free, but its about understanding your customer or clients’ needs, building a connection, providing value or helping them solve a small part of the puzzle and guiding them forward.
It’s a chance to get to know each other, build trust and show what it’s like to work with you. It doesn’t always result in immediate sales like traditional sales tactics, but think of it as a longer term strategy. You’re building a network or community of people – people who might work with you and people who can recommend you to others.
Personally, I love it because I feel like it’s a much more relaxed and natural way of growing a business and making sales, that fits well with my personality type.
I’m not a fan of traditional sales tactics, possibly from my past experience in an agency where I sat next to the sales team on constant calls being super confident, not taking no for an answer and bargaining until they got a yes. And also the immense pressure they had to reach their targets, reminded daily at the afternoon meeting in front of everyone how well they’re doing or how far they are from success.
I used to sit at my desk on the operations and design side of the room thinking about how bad I’d be at their job, how they must feel trying to hit these targets and also how I’d feel as the customer. I’m quite easily sold to and have said yes to many things in the past, only to feel like I’ve been kind of bullied into it afterwards. Who wants to start a customer relationship like that, with feelings of resentment and regret?!
There is certainly a place for sales skills like that and there are certainly people who are amazing at it while being full of integrity and empathy, it’s just not for me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know that when I first started my business…
🤢 When I first started my business, I used to cold call to offer my design services to local businesses. It made me feel physically ill and I hated it, but it was what I’d been taught sales was all about.
❄️ Then I used to send cold emails because at least that was a little bit more comfortable but they came across kind of spammy…
🤨 Then I offered discovery calls following a ‘proven’ sales script I’d found but that just seemed a bit pushy to me and I ended up sounding like a totally different person to who I really am.
🎉 Then I said screw it and did what I felt comfortable with, which was building connections and helping people, and actually being myself.
Discovery calls are still a big thing for me but just a friendly discussion, not a scripted sales push. Hey, calls are still a little bit scary but my shy heart sings when I know I’ve made a difference to someone! And I love learning about other people and their talents!
The power of business communities
One of the most amazing things I ever did for my business was participate in business communities. I found a couple that I focused in on, the main one being The Profit Pack by Nadia Finer, where I met some of the most amazing ladies, some that I still work with today almost 7 years later! And these connections bloomed into other connections and referrals and a big network of people. All from engaging in the community, cheering each other on, helping each other and offering advice.
Since then, I’ve been a bit absent from community groups. Work got busier and engaging in communities dropped off the radar, then I became a bit too scared to go back to it. What do I say? Will people think I’m talking a load of rubbish? AM I talking a load of rubbish?!
This year I’m hoping to get back into spending time in my business communities like Atomic and WP Mavens. I’m trying to let go of the fear and judgement of myself and just jump back into it.
Communities and connections have so much power. And not solely for making sales but by making friends, finding complimentary service providers or products for your clients, supporting each other, cheering each other on, promoting others’ launches and new products/services, asking questions, learning more… it’s called a community for a reason.
It takes a village to raise a business baby!
There are no rules
A key thing to remember when making sales in your business, is that there are no rules. You do you! If you’re being taught a ‘magical sales process that’ll take you to 6 figures and beyond’ but you feel icky about it… Don’t do it! If you see someone else having massive success with a tactic they’re using, sure, try it if you’d like to, but remember that every person and every business is different, so what works for one person might not work for you.
What I’m trying to say here is, find what is best for you. You as a unique person with unique skills and personality traits. It might take some time to carve out, but experiment and investigate – what feels good to you, what actually works for you, what makes selling an enjoyable thing to do? And don’t be afraid to try new things and adapt over time.
Where to next?
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