Am I alone in thinking that if someone is pushing hard to sell me something, then it’s probably because I don’t really need it? I think a lot of people have an aversion to the sales pitch because we can often see right through it or maybe it’s because I struggle with sales myself that I feel this way. That’s right, I said it, I am not a strong sales person. It is a sad truth that I have lived with my whole life. So how have I managed to build a growing media production company without pushy sales tactics?
I didn’t always know I was bad at sales. When I was younger, I wanted nothing more than to be an artist. I spent most of my twenties drawing, painting, and even creating furniture. I lived the starving artist life, I even had a studio in a dark, dingy basement, in a wonderfully shady part of Toronto. Like when I say shady, I mean a drunk guy once had a bottle smashed over his head outside our door and I had to leave as the paramedics were wrestling him onto a stretcher to try and help him... this was in the middle of the day. That’s how bad I wanted the dream.
But in the end, I never “made it” as an artist and I know exactly why. The number one reason that I didn’t find success as an artist was not for lack of talent, but because I was not very good at sales. Correction, I was terrible at selling, especially when it came to fine art.
I did countless art shows including the New York Art Expo and whenever I exhibited my work I always had this thought that, because art is so subjective, you will either love it or you won’t. Therefore anyone who loves it should simply want to buy it. But of course that never happened.
Looking back on my inability to sell, it’s ironic to think that I also used to work in retail sales. I wasn’t any better but I found that what I really excelled at was building relationships and educating customers on their options to help them make the best purchase for their needs. I don’t think my employers liked me because I never sold what they wanted but instead what the customers needed. For example, you know that protection plan that electronic stores always try to sell you? Ya I never sold that because I didn’t see the value in it for the customer... I saw it for the cash grab that it is.
When I eventually landed an account management role at a marketing agency, that client relationship focus is exactly what led me to succeed. Yes there were sales pitches and upselling but I never thought of it as selling but rather, educating. Here was something that I could see the value in for my clients and they trusted me to guide them in the right direction.
Educating clients has been my key to sales ever since and it is exactly why content marketing is so effective. Because again, the focus is on educating an audience to know what they need and why. All the while, building and establishing a relationship so that you will be the first person they call when they’re ready to buy.
Now I’m not saying you should simply wait around for them to make the first move. Don't make the same mistake that I did as an artist, but remember that when you do pitch to them or offer a promotion, they will be more receptive and won’t immediately put their guard up. Why? Because now they trust that you can help them make the right choice... and not buy the protection plan... seriously, ask an insurance broker if they can protect your property for a hell of a lot less.