A Short Guide to Sleaze-Free Selling

By Alyssa Martin

Selling is a requirement for a successful business. It’s how you make money. But, as a female entrepreneur, it can also be really hard because you’re so invested in your work that sales also feels deeply personal. Hearing a ‘no’ can sometimes feel like they’re rejecting you, instead of declining your offer.

Being afraid of sales and self-promotion is normal because we’ve ALL been sold to by a slimy salesperson at some point in our lives. That memory probably triggers an “I don’t want to be THAT person” response.

The fact that you’re reading this and that you don’t want to sound “salesy” means that you do what you do because you care. When you were a little girl, I’m willing to bet, you didn’t think, “oh, I want to be in sales” and that you probably more interested in doing something that would help people.

I’m here to tell you that your work helps people, which is why you need to promote it and get it into the hands of the people who need it most.

Don’t think of it as selling, think of it as ‘being of service’

Self-promotion is not your primary goal if you want to market yourself without being slimy about it. You will certainly feel like a sleazy used car salesman if you go into a client conversation thinking, 

“I’ve got to make a sale… I’ve got to sign this client.” 

What if success wasn't the goal, but rather helping people? Maybe success is just a byproduct of the real work. 

That means you can focus on why you do what you do and still feel successful after promoting yourself.

For example, let’s imagine you’re a health and weight loss blogger. You use your blog as a platform to coach women 1-on-1. Most importantly, you help them lose weight after giving birth in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them while they’re stuck in the blur of life with a newborn.

You go into every meeting with a potential weight loss client focusing on what you can do during that meeting to make her feel more confident and better equipped to lose weight. 

After the meeting, you ask yourself: "Did I leave this person better off than when I met her?” If the answer is ‘yes,’ then you’ve done your job well.

By starting the conversation (whether it’s online or offline) with a mindset of “how can I help this person,” you create a completely different energy around the conversation. Your potential client picks up on that graceful, confident energy and it makes her feel more certain that you can help her lose weight in a way that’s fits with her hectic, new-mother life.

Even better, when she finishes the conversation feeling like you’ve really helped her before she’s ever given you a dollar, she starts imaging how much value she’ll get if she actually pays for it.

The end result: Your potential client feels good after the conversation. You feel good for being helpful. And you’ve got a much stronger chance of turning her into a paying client without having to feel ‘salesy.’

Promote twice as much as you need to

Confidence is key to selling. That doesn’t mean being cocky and exaggerating your achievements. It means being 100% sure that what you’re offering can help the person you’re offering it to.

It’s important to come from a place of confidence, so you're not asking for business from a place of desperation or fear. (Because your potential clients will sense that fear a mile away.)

If you’re doing twice as much self-promotion as you need to, you’ll ideally have twice as many enquiries coming in from people interested in working with you. You’ll have a whole pipeline of people lining up for your offer and that will take the weight of “where’s my next paycheck coming from” off your shoulders, so that you can start talking about yourself and your work from a more confident place.

Your dream clients will notice when you’re coming from a place of trust and confidence and that will give them confidence that you’re an expert who can help them solve their problems.

7th time’s a charm

People need to hear your message 7 times before they take action and click your link or buy your offer. 

Why? 

Because people are busy, inboxes are crowded and social media feeds move at the speed of light. 

What does that mean for you? 

It means you’re not being pushy when you repeatedly sell yourself on social media or through your email list. It means you’re doing what your audience needs to hear your message. 

Only a fraction of your audience will see it if you only promote your offer once. Instead write 7 different versions of that self-promotional Facebook post, schedule 7 different tweets, draft 7 different blog posts about the topic. 

Then, spread them out over a few days or weeks and sprinkle them in with your usual posts / tweets / blogs / newsletters, so that you’re not just blasting your audience with “salesy” posts. 

Most people won’t even notice that you have promoted your work that many times because they don’t spend all day on social media and they don’t follow you in every available channel.

But the people that DO notice are far likely to hit the ‘buy now’ button or sponsor your next blog post or sign up to your next class. Because each time they see a post about your offer, you’re inching them closer to awareness that they need what you’ve got.

If it feels icky, do it differently

When you feel confident about your message and your work, it becomes so much more appealing to others. When you feel icky, it’s near impossible for you to sell yourself with confidence and enthusiasm. Your audience will spot your discomfort a mile away and question your role as an expert. 

Besides, you know that what you do is making a difference. You deserve to feel good about telling people that.

So this rule is simple: if there’s something about your self-promotion that feels icky to you, find out where that icky feeling comes from and find a better approach that works for you.

Does it come from using hype-y words when, in real life, you’re actually a mellow person that would say that self-promotional sentence in a different way?

Does it come from the place that you’re promoting yourself? Maybe you’re someone who hates Facebook, but you feel like have to promote yourself in a hundred Facebook groups because that’s what everyone else is doing?

Does it come from not really believing that you can deliver on the results that you’re promising? If that’s true, then what can you promise and wholeheartedly know that you can achieve for your audience? It might be as simple as changing “get 3x more blog traffic when you work with me” to “I’ve helped my clients get 3x more blog traffic.”

Alyssa Martin is a copywriter and communications coach focused on helping difference makers & creative entrepreneurs promote and sell themselves without feeling icky or sleazy. Through her practical blog posts & copywriting smarts, she gives you the tools you need to clearly tell the world why you’re different, better, and worth working with — so you can make a difference and a profit. Get the scoop at alyssamartin

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