How to sell without feeling like a slimy salesperson

People, not prospects

Does the thought of selling make you wanna crawl into a dark hole? Are you fearful that talking about your product/service/amazeballsness turns you into a used car salesman overnight (greasy pompadour and mismatched suit included)? Will ya roll your eyes at me if I tell you that you can learn how to sell sans the un-pushy conversation with no pressure attached?

How To Sell Megaphone

Then you’re gonna wanna buy this article you’re reading now! For the low, low price of just $19.95, I’ll throw in a set of steak knives if you order before you finish reading this sentence!

Just get your credit card ready and call—

Okay, okay. I’ve made my point. That infomercial-like sales tactic is what we’ve all been exposed to since, well, infomercials started (which might be before some of us were born). When we think of selling, we think of steak knives, Crazy Eddie, and operators who are standing by to take our calls. We think of in-your-face aggression, one-way conversations, and telemarketers who interrupt our dinner. Learning how to sell doesn’t have to be that way, though. Here are five tips on how to sell without feeling like a slimy salesperson.

1. How to sell — Say goodbye to the stereotypes.

Do me a favor and picture the slimiest of salesmen in your head, with all the stereotypical slimy-salesman characteristics you’re afraid of. He can have a megaphone for a head, two mouths instead of ears, and a set of steak knives at the ready.

Got that picture? Now, say goodbye to him. Wave. Tell him he’s not welcome here, ever. Watch him go, dejected, while you shake your head and smile.

See, in your world, that slimy salesman won’t ever make an appearance. Not only because you won’t let him, but because you can’t possibly become him. Ever.

You’re too kind.You have too much interest in connecting with people, in improving their lives. You’d never strong-arm someone into buying something they don’t need. It’s just not who you are, what you offer, or how you want to build a relationship.

Oh sure, I don’t know you, but I do. That’s because you’re here, reading this post, and something about selling-without-the-sliminess appeals to you. And you can bring that intention into your marketing. I pinky-swear it.

2. Stop calling it “selling.”

Thinking of how to sell, market myself, or advertise makes me wanna stick my finger down my throat and gag. What a way to bring on a case of The Icks!

So, I decided long ago to group those things under one umbrella, and call it Hoopla. “Time to hoopla it up for my rhyming career-change workbook!” I said to myself recently. I worked through my Happy Hoopla spreadsheet, laughing and smiling a goofy smile along the way. See, when I think of Hoopla, it turns the whole thing into something silly, and fun, and a bit ridiculous, too.

I had another client decide to call it Ballyhoo (isn’t that the best word ever?), and it immediately brought a sense of celebration to it all. Conversely, a coach I know called it Inviting, and describing it this way immediately created an intimate, personal connection.

Find your word for Hoopla/ Ballyhoo/Inviting and ban selling/marketing/advertising from your vocabulary for good (I promise the slimy-salesman feeling will go with it!).

3. Create your client profile, and speak to him or her directly.

Who will read your blog, buy your product, or hire you for your services? Where does he or she live and shop? What’s the age of this ideal client? What does he read? What’s her family like? Job? Goals? Frustrations? Hobbies? Personality traits?

When you have a clear picture this person, think about what problem(s) you can solve for her. Why is he coming to you for help, and what are you giving him?

I know, these are big questions, but I promise that by starting to answer them and creating a client/customer/reader profile, you’ll be able to have a picture in your head of who needs your help/product/insights and why. Once you have that person in your head, you can write your web copy, email newsletters, and blog posts directly for that person. It’s so much easier than writing for My Audience (I promise). Because really—who the heck is that?!

If you’re having trouble answering these questions verbally, then pick up The Right Brain Business Plan (chapter 4!) and/or head to the magazine closest to you and start leafing through.

Rip out anything and anyone in those pages that speaks to you, even if you don’t know why.

When you’re done, create a collage and hang it in your office space, or make it your desktop. Keep it in plain view when you’re writing, and write for the person(s) included there.

4. Be yourself, loud and clear.

I’m patting myself on the back right now for starting a blog to support my business back in May of 2008, right after I launched the basic version of my website. While I was initially under the guise that, as a life coach, I had to use my blog to spread my life-coaching wisdom to the world (aka let’s-pretend-my-life-is-perfect-and-I-have-it-all-figured-out-instead-of-disclosing-that-I-still-worked-a-day-job-and-was-pretty-damn-scared-and-vulnerable-at-the-time).

That lasted all of a month or three, until I realized my blog was so boring that even I wouldn’t read it. That’s when I chucked the mask I was wearing and let it all hang out—my “real” life, my challenges, my loud personality, my enthusiasm, my sense of humor, my silliness, my day job, my wins, and my excessive use of the word “amazeballs.”

Un-coincidentally, that’s when I started getting steady readers and clients who were already excited to work with me without even having a consultation call. I was puzzled, but realized quickly that they already knew who I’d be in our sessions because they knew me from my blog.

I never have to sell myself to anyone who’s read anything I’ve written online (and yes, I’ve written every single word of my copy and every post/guest post that has my name attached), because if they show up for a session or a consultation call or buy my workbook or sign up for my e-course, it’s because they know what they’re gonna get. I love that more than I can put into words.

5. Have a conversation.

There’s a reason we have two ears and a mouth—it’s to listen twice as much as we speak.

While I speak a lot, I start every consultation call with, “Tell me why you wanted us to talk. What are you challenged by? Why are we here today?”

After we discuss what this person is struggling with as well as her goals, I ask her if she has any questions about coaching, and I spend the rest of our time answering them.

There’s never a spiel. I’m never waiting to “close” her.

I’m there because I get to gauge whether I’d be the right coach for her, and if not, who I could recommend. I’m there to answer her questions and give her the information she’s looking for so she can make the best decision for herself. I’m there to listen to dreams and offer encouragement and make a connection.

Honestly, the Hoopla doesn’t even come into the equation, and I don’t think of my consultation calls as “prospects” or “sales.” I think of them as “creatives” and “go-getters” and, um, “people.” That’s the key in learning how to sell. Imagine that.

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Image by: Christian Schirrmacher via Compfight cc

Michelle Ward has answered the "What do you want to be when you grow up?" question for herself, and as the When I Grow Up Coach she helps women transition out of soul-sucking jobs and into work that feels like play. Connect with her on or Facebook!