Last week, a prospective client approached us about helping her company boost its online sales.
I had several suggestions about how they could reach out to influencers and use online advertising to raise brand awareness fast, and reach out to prospects.
But she was almost paralysed by one big fear: “How pushy will it be? We don’t want to be too pushy!”
She wasn’t the first business owner I’d come across who was afraid or embarrassed to sell their product or service too hard – even if there was already proven demand for what they offer.
And I’m not unsympathetic. Selling situations can be enormously uncomfortable for many people, especially if they are unsure about what to say, or are unsure that the person they are speaking to is really interested.
There’s also a cultural dimension to this reticence. Compared to our American cousins, we English are notoriously afraid to appear overly aggressive, and risk alienating potential and existing customers.
However, as a business owner or marketing manager, the ability to sell is a key element of success.
So how do you sell online, if you feel awkward about it?
You need to develop three shifts in mentality…..
1. The best marketing isn’t overly ‘salesy’
First, it’s important to understand that the best way to sell online is not to be too pushy. On the contrary, being pushy backfires.
Most people online are not ready to buy from you here and now. They want to take time to get to know you, and maybe try out your product or service in some way, before they make any major commitment.
The best way to do that is certainly not to aggressively promote your product or service, which will frighten them off, but to show what you can do for your clients in a more subtle way.
The best online sales funnels start off by giving potential clients information that is relevant and valuable to them. For example, an article on “How to redecorate your bathroom” will get much more attention from buyers who are toying with the idea, than a tweet asking them to make an appointment.
The purpose of this content is to establish a relationship, not push sales messages or other facts about your product. Once you’ve helped them in some way, clients will be more receptive to hearing about your products or services.
This should be a more natural, comfortable approach for companies concerned about ‘pushiness’. It’s not second-tier, less effective marketing only for those without the guts to be aggressive. It should be the natural way for everyone.
2. You’re Doing Your Prospects a Favour By Helping Them Buy
That said, once you’ve established a relationship, there will come a time when you have to make a direct offer to your prospects. How else will people who need your services or products be able to buy them?
Many people hate doing this, because they feel they’re pushing a product or service on someone who’s unwilling.
But you have to think about it differently.
Instead of feeling that you are forcing something unwanted on your prospects, realise that you are giving them an opportunity to buy something that can help them. You are doing them a favour.
If you believe in your product, you know that it can help consumers or businesses. By not giving them a chance to buy it, you are taking away a tool that can change their business or personal life.
And you know what? If your offer is good, they’ll most likely be grateful.
At Brainstorm Digital, we offer new subscribers a free strategy session. I try to hold off the selling and just offer great advice, but all too often, I find that the business owners I talk to almost collapse in relief if I suggest that we can help them implement their marketing. They are desperate for the help, and are just waiting for someone to offer it.
That’s probably true of many of your prospects too.
If they aren’t interested, don’t think of it as a problem. If up until now, you’ve offered them good free advice and started building a relationship with them, chances are that they won’t care if you make an offer they’re not interested in accepting. They’ll keep up the relationship with you.
And if they do unfollow you or unsubscribe to your newsletter? Occasional rejection is part of business.
3. You’ll Be Left Behind If You Don’t….
One of the best reasons to get over any feelings of embarrassment is that your competition is out there looking for new clients. If your business isn’t proactively selling its products and services, others will take up that space. You are in effect paving the way for others to capture new business – business that could be yours!
Ultimately, you need to find the balance between delivering your prospects useful, non-salesy content, and giving them an explicit opportunity to buy. Getting that balance right is the key to a profitable relationship with your online audience.
Do you ever worry about being too pushy online? If so, how do you overcome your fear of selling? Tell us in the comments!