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Experts who don’t like to sell? We’re ALL in trouble!

This week we started to work with two new clients on our ‘180 days to your Office on the Beach’ coaching programme.

What’s really interesting is that often when you start coaching people with completely different circumstances, but who want to achieve the same thing (i.e. the freedom to run their business and travel) you hit upon similar themes or roadblocks which are standing in their way.

This story illustrates the issue that has come up this week.

‘A man decides to open a shop. He is an expert in designing shiny, pretty things. He takes great care in getting his shop ready. He paints a beautiful sign above the door; he handcrafts enticing posters to display in the windows. Then he pulls up a chair in the vast cavern of his still and empty shop and he waits. He waits for the people to start to come in and ask him for what they want, so he can share his expertise and serve them.

People walking by are curious. They admire the craftsmanship of the sign and the posters; they see the man smiling expectantly. But the shelves are bare; they think ‘he obviously isn’t quite ready for customers yet’ and pass by.

Next week they return, and find new posters, with bolder colours and text. They think, ‘this is promising. Maybe he is ready now to show me what he has made’. They peer in the window to see the display but are disappointed to find that all that is there is the man, shyly smiling, still waiting patiently in an empty shop. They shrug and keep walking.

After a few weeks the man starts to fidget in his chair. Not one person has come in and he doesn’t understand why. He steps outside and thinks about whether to repaint his sign. He looks at his beautiful array of posters. Does he need to create even more? He is surprised to catch himself feeling slightly disgruntled. Why are they so happy to gaze admiringly at my handiwork but they don’t come in and ask me about any of my shiny pretty things?

How long would you wait?

Eventually the man starts to notice that there are less passers-by pausing at his window. He pauses on his front step and looks down the street. Another shop has opened and seems to be gathering quite a crowd. Hesitantly, he approaches the new shop. It’s selling glittery pretty things. There is a sign and some posters (although not as good as his, he is pleased to notice). But the shelves are stocked full. People are going into the shop to browse. Some of them leave empty handed, but some of them make a selection and step up to the counter to make their purchase. The man recognises some of them as the passers by outside his window. As he watches them enjoying lively discussions with the shop owner about his glittery pretty things, the man feels confused. He could have sworn they had been interested in his shiny pretty things. Why are they accepting second best?

The man returns to his shop, crestfallen. He doesn’t understand. All he can conclude is that people wanted glittery pretty things and not shiny pretty things after all.’

So, the point of this story? Well, there are a few that spring to mind.

  • If you don’t put yourself out there, nothing will happen. The decision to hold back is nothing to do with business or strategy, but fear.
  • You have to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy; ANY obstacles (like an intimidating shop, obscure pricing, lack of clarity in where or how to pay, uncertainty about what the product is or what its benefits are) will put the buyer off.
  • We like buying from places we have bought before, because there is less to think about, less uncertainty than in unfamiliar places.
  • In trying to avoid rejection, you push people away.
  • People won’t ask (they don’t always know what it is they want exactly); you have to have an offer for them to consider.
  • If they aren’t buying from you at the moment, it doesn’t mean there is no value in what you are offering. It means you aren’t making it easy enough for them to buy.
  • You need to display what you are offering. If you went into he supermarket and the shelves were empty you wouldn’t go and ask for all the items you want. You would assume they don’t have anything and go elsewhere. They lay out their wares and use bright packaging and special offers to make it easy for you to make a decision about what to buy. They need to sell it, you need to buy it. Their strategies just facilitate this process.
  • If they don’t buy from you it doesn’t mean they don’t like you! And it doesn’t really matter even if it did because your style is never going to suit everyone (but the law of averages suggest it will suit some)
  • If you keep doing the same things, you will get the same results. If those results aren’t what you want, you need to change your approach.
  • There are people who need what you can do. They may not know exactly what they need, but they probably suspect they need help of some sort. Unless you put an offer together for them, they won’t get the help they need, and you won’t earn a living from doing the thing you love.

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4 Responses to “Experts who don’t like to sell? We’re ALL in trouble!”

  1. Oh, this is so true! I’ve just been talking to a client about the very same thing. So many people in business are afraid to tell people about what they do, because they think they’re being “pushy” – they get fed up with being on the receiving end of pushy sales people, and think that’s the last thing they want to do themselves. They don’t realise, though, that there’s a long way to go from 1) not promoting yourself at all, to 2) being a pushy sales person!

    Perhaps it’s just something we each have to live through so that we understand the effect. I know I did!!

    P.S. love the sound of your new programme!

  2. What a great post, very good timing for me to check you out. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Irene
    • Reply
  3. Excellent article. We’ve all been guilty of this and, when the little grey cells are suffering from a lack of gin flow, I’m sure we’ll all do it again.

    The word ‘sell’ has such negative connotations for most of us when really all we have to do is tell people what we can do for them.

    The bit about making it easy for people to buy, too, is spot on. Gosh, don’t we make it so ruddy hard for people to give us their money?

  4. Thank very much for your comments. It is funny how this is something which we need to check every so often, and we need that little nudge sometimes to remind us ‘it’s ok to sell!’ I know how much I enjoy buying as well, something I’m mostly reminded of as I wander, bag laden, round the shops on a Saturday afternoon!

    • Hannah & Chris
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