How do you sell to consumers in an environment that hates sales?
Small businesses may struggle with establishing trust and penetrating the right target audience due to the sheer volume of spam and marketing gimmicks consumers are bombarded with. How do you grow sales in an increasingly hostile environment?
I started a global branding and marketing firm 18 years ago and I am going to share a few quotes with you that address this question. The first one is "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care” by Theodore Roosevelt It reminds me of the Maya Angelou quote that "people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” and use that too as a guide. I always love it when my clients tell me things like they know they cannot be a big client for me but I always make them feel important or I am always so responsive that they feel like they are my only client even though they know I am busy I never come off hurried or rushed with them. I always try to be present and give whomever I am talking †o my undivided attention and I think my clients sense that and really appreciate it. There are lots of people in my category, it is very competitive out there but I’d like to think our clients feel loved and important to us and that is part of our value proposition. Lots of marketing consultants can technically do the work but if we make them feel best they will come back to us. So much of our work is by referral and word of mouth and this adage really does pay off, at least for us. I actually sent the Roosevelt quote to someone once and I think she still keeps it in her office today years later.
Another good one is “whatever you are, be a good one” by Abraham Lincoln. It resonates with me because it is a great reminder to be the very best version of yourself and not to worry what others are doing and also if you are selling something you really believe in and know it is a great product or service then share your knowledge and passion in an authentic way so others can see why they should buy it. When you stop selling and start sharing it becomes much easier to have a conversation and solve problems.
The most pertinent advice I can give is know your customer and think about their motivations. Try to answer two questions:
Why would they buy?
Why would they buy from you?
With the first question, think about the problem you're solving for them. Are you saving them time? Is it expertise in a speciliast field which will help them not make common mistakes? Are you making them happy or providing a distraction from the cares of the world? Get a really good understanding of what you do here to make their life better.
Once you have a deep understanding of what motivates these buyers, start to think of your proposition and how you solve that problem for them. Will you save them the most time? Are you the cheapest or most experienced, to justify the cost? Use this value proposition to then consistently and persitently stick to the brand message, showing your customers why you're the best choice to solve their problem.
And to avoid them switching off or blocking out your message, stick to the rule of showing - No yelling, no telling, no selling.
I think the education approach works, Educate your customers, provide value to them. In the long term the brand equity is valuable and people will approach you.
In follow this model you're also creating lots of content which you then use in a content lead marketing plan.
More than ever - in today's fast digitised and autmated world and especial,y in markets where there is a lot of marketing message bombardment and noise - personalising the consumer experience is paramount to succeed.
People do business with people, and like to be met in their need... the more you can personalise your prospect engagement, connect with your potential custmers and make it about them, the more likely they will buy from you.
In saying this, you don't need to 'sell' to them. If they have a need and want to buy - then it is only about choosing who to buy from. Provide unparralelled customer service - genuine connection and care... they will want to buy from you without the need to 'sell'.
This applies across various industries/verticals... Hope this helps, reach out if you want to chat in more detail.
Best - Erik
If not all people liked to buy things, we'd live in some kind of communist country. People love buying things - everything you see around you right now was purchased at some point; how you arrived at the decision to buy that item is what you must reverse-engineer to figure out how to sell to others.
Most people at their core like predictability. A new product or a new service interrupts that predictable flow and we must convince others that this interruption will enhance their life in some way.
In the era of disinformation, simply writing something down and swearing up and down it's true no longer works. (It probably hasn't for a long time.) Sales tactics on scarcity rarely work, because we live in a world of abundance. The "buy my pen" example from The Wolf of Wall Street would only work in the jungle or the outback. We not only have pens, but we have computers and smartphones to record information.
I think it does come down to an emotional decision - how do you make people feel? Paige's answer hits the nail on the head there; do you value your client as much as you value their business? I don't think it's a game of "I gotta sell this crap to these suckers and I'll be a millionaire!" it's really about fostering relationships and providing mutual value. Sometimes clients will drain your value by being a "ballbreaker" or argumentative. It's a symbiotic relationship - the hard part is coming across as sympathetic to their pain points and offering a solution to alleviate it, even when there are 100 other alternatives (and perhaps palliatives.)
If you are genuinely helping consumers you never end up selling, simply helping. By coming from the view point of 'how can I help this person' you never sell a day in your life.
Narine, I think the challenge you are facing is very common. Infact by and large all new entrants and small businesses are encountering this today. I personally think the solution lies in the marketeers "perspective and atttitude". The whole game revolves around this. How you can think about identifying your target audience and promising value to them. I will explain this with a brief story.
In the days of yore, a shoe manufacturing company sent its sales rep to Africa in the hope of expanding its business. The sales rep returned empty-handed, distraught, stating that it was the land of slaves and no one was wearing shoes. The Company sent in another sales rep to test the waters. The second person looked at the situation under a positive lens. He came back exhilirated exclaiming that everyone was barefooted, nobody had shoes at all! so there was ample opportunity to grow!
Bottomline: its all about attitude and perspective.
If you’re a software company, the solution is PLG - Product Lead Growth. Just ask Slack, Zoom, etc.
Narine, you are correct in saying that all people like to buy, but none of us like being sold to. So the short answer is not to 'sell' to them!
The process we teach is:
 Identify your ideal customer, people who have the problem you are solving, have the finances to pay for your solution, and most importantly, are willing to pay for your solution
 Drive them to your website from social media, online forums, or wherever else they usually congregate
 Show them that you are the best person to solve their problem, using posts on social media and on your website, free downloads, etc, and get them on your email list (but nurture them, don't sell to them)
 When they are ready to pay for a solution to their problem, guess whose name will spring immediately to mind? ;-)
Give it a go, and let me know what you think, and what sort of results you get without 'selling'.
It's important not to sell (at any time), it's about educating and connecting with your ideal client. It's about getting to know who they really are, what their problem is and how they will feel when their problem is gone.
- talk to them about benefits, not features
- have non-salesly calls to action
- share good quality content via socials, email marketing and send them to your website
- consider SEO depending on your budget
- stay front of mind
- don't put all your marketing eggs in one basket, use different online and offline channels
- evaluate your marketing and tweak as you go.