For many small business owners, the thought of being "salesy" evokes a cringe. Thoughts of pushy salespeople and manipulative tactics can lead to fear and hesitation. But the truth is, selling – done right – is the lifeblood of any business. So, how can small businesses overcome their sales anxiety and embrace selling as a natural part of their journey, without resorting to the dreaded "salesy" tactics?

Firstly, let's address the elephant in the room. Your business exists to make money. You offer a product or service, hoping people will pay for it, which is the essence of commerce. That means that all businesses have to be sales-driven. Denying that reality hinders your business's potential.

So, instead of fearing the "s" word, let's redefine it. Forget manipulative pitches and high-pressure tactics. Think of honest communication, value creation, and genuine connection. That's the new paradigm of selling for small businesses – building trust, exceeding expectations, and fostering a community around your brand.

Tips for small businesses to sell authentically and effectively

  1. Focus on value, not sales. Shift your mindset from pushing products to educating your audience on the value your offer provides. It is crucial to understand what problems your product or service solves. What pain points does it alleviate? How does it make people's lives better? Clearly communicate these benefits and let the value proposition do the selling.
  2. Help people to find what they need. Carefully placing products on your website so they’re easy to find benefits both you and the customer. It saves them time and effort and it makes them more likely to buy from you. Place your best-selling products on your homepage and make sure that your purchase process is as straightforward as it can be.
  3. Become a trusted advisor, not a pushy salesperson. Ditch the hard sell and position yourself as a knowledgeable resource and guide. Offer free consultations, share informative content, and engage in honest conversations with potential customers. This builds trust and cultivates a long-term relationship, ultimately leading to sales built on trust and mutual benefit.
  4. Tell stories and show benefits, not features. People connect with examples of how your product or service can help them, rather than dry features. Share testimonials from satisfied customers and showcase how your product has impacted an area of their lives, however small.
  5. Set up “pillars” or “buckets” for your social media content. Divide your content into four or five pillars and make sales one pillar. Other pillars may be behind-the-scenes content, company or brand content and whatever is important to you as a business. By alternating pillars, you can ensure that you are selling on your social channels – but not all the time.
  6. Show your personality. People like doing business with authentic individuals, not robotic salespeople. Let your personality shine through in your interactions, share your passion for your business, and connect with customers on a human level. Authenticity encourages trust and creates a more enjoyable buying experience.
  7. Offer value before asking for the sale. Give first, then ask. Share valuable tips, resources, or even free samples before introducing your paid offerings. This positions you as an authority not just a seller and also demonstrates your commitment to providing value. People are more likely to buy from someone they feel has already benefited them.
  8. Build relationships, not transactions. Focus on forging long-term connections with your customers, not just closing one-time deals. Provide excellent customer service, listen to their feedback, and go the extra mile to exceed expectations. Happy customers become loyal advocates who spread the word and fuel organic growth.

Rachel says, 

“It's important to remember that the sales process is about building trust, creating value, and connecting with people on a human level. The "S" word is often associated with pushy and manipulative sales tactics, but this can be redefined for small businesses. It’s essential for small businesses not to shy away from selling – after all, without sales, there is no business. As a business owner, you can shift the focus from sales to value, be useful, make it easy for customers to find what they need and embrace the art of storytelling. Adopt these principles and ditch the cringe.”

Good luck!