Want to get better at selling? You need to change how you look at sales.

Why you need to change the way you look at sales

It’s time to get comfortable with selling! Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

You need to pitch your product at a networking event, but you’re worried it’ll look like you’re only there to sell.

It’s time to write your website but you don’t want to come across as too ‘salesy’.

You’re great at talking to potential new clients about your business but choke when it comes to actually asking for the sale.

You’re not alone; somewhere along the line, ‘sales’ has become a dirty word.

When I worked in sales I was ashamed to tell people that was what I did. Advertising sales executive; it conjures up a distasteful image of pushiness, of ethically ambiguous suits driven by nothing but commission.

And yeah, it was totally like that!

We were actually told ‘everyone needs this product; you just have to find a way to convince them’. Even if the customer had given 5 excellent, valid, logical reasons that they didn’t need to buy what I was selling, I still had to work with the belief that ‘everyone needs this product’.

But it wasn’t true — it isn’t true for any business — and it’s why I took a nosedive out of that career path pretty early on. It’s also why earlier versions of my own web copy had me crying from the rooftops that I specialised in ‘non-salesy’ copy! The experience had left a dirty taste in my mouth and I let it inform how I looked at the art of sales for years afterwards.

But copywriting — good copywriting anyway — has bog all to do with beautiful writing and everything to do with sales. And it has taken years of running my own business to realise that I’d let a few bad experiences skew my view of an essential element of business ownership.

I bet you can relate. For so many people, sales is that horrible taste in your mouth.

Or at least that’s what it has become.

It’s the intrusive phone call while you’re about to start a meeting.

It’s the knock at the door when you’re trying to get your kids to bed.

It’s the oily salesman who cares more about his commission than about matching the right products or services to the right people.

Because that’s what sales is at its heart. When you strip it of all of the elements that we think make it sleazy:

Sales is matching the right products and services to the right people at the right time.

Without this, you don’t have a functional business. It’s time to make friends with the art of sales.

Let’s look at step one in the sales process as an example:

Building a rapport.

Why you need to change the way you look at sales

Forget sales tricks when talking to clients – it’s about building rapport naturally.
Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Every trained salesperson ever will have been told that this is step one on the sales journey. It’s why they so obviously throw your name into every sentence.

‘Well, Clare. Yes, Clare. The thing is, Clare.’ It feels false because generally, it is. When a salesperson doesn’t actually care about their prospect (another horrible word), they have to force themselves to talk in this way. It’s a conscious effort for them and that’s exactly why it comes across as forced.

But if you’re running a business, presumably you’ve gone into it out of a desire to help.

Take me; I live for entrepreneurship. While I was still working my day job a colleague mentioned a vague wisp of a business idea she’d been thinking about. By the time we’d finished our lunchtime cuppa soups, I’d worked out 5 different services she could develop, decided which social media channels she should use and had written out a list of next steps for her to follow.

I want to see people thrive while they’re building the business of their dreams. So building a rapport with my clients becomes easy because I’m so excited about what they’re doing.

And I’m guessing you feel just as passionate about the aims of your customers, whether you’re helping them put together their dream wedding or building them an IT package that will revolutionise the way they run their business.

And that’s exactly why I want you to abandon any worries you have about this first, essential step of sales. You WILL be able to build rapport because you genuinely care. You’ve built a business because you love what you do and you know that whatever you’re selling is going to change people’s lives in one way or another.

That’s why you don’t need tricks or to remember to repeat their name five times in every conversation. Rapport will come naturally. Because you know you can help and you’re excited to show them how!

A little experiment.

I want you to take a moment to remember the last time you bought something online.  Think about the process you went through as you trawled through the various websites you found. Did you, at any point, feel like you were being sold to? That it was intrusive or dishonest?

Of course not, because you needed that information.

Now let’s imagine that you’re in search of a new VA. You’re determined to work fewer hours in your business and spend more time with your family and you have a ton of work that you want to outsource. Finding the right person to take care of things for you will be a huge weight off your mind. It’ll be bloomin’ life changing!

You search for VAs online. You want to know everything. What they can help you with, how it’ll work, what it’ll cost. As you read through the various websites you ARE being sold to but there’s nothing distasteful about it, you NEED that info.

In fact, if there’s a VA out there who’s just right for you, you’d be pretty pissed if they kept that juicy info to themselves because they were worried about coming across as too ‘salesy’! As business owners, they’d be losing out, but as a potential customer, you’d be losing out too. They’d be doing you a huge disservice.

 

How this relates to your marketing.

This is exactly the kind of logic I want you to apply when you tackle your marketing, whether you’re writing your web copy, planning a social media campaign, or writing a proposal.

To paraphrase Zig Ziglar, you’re not selling, you’re helping.

Forget your bottom line while you’re writing, forget that you’re selling. Your job right now is to match the right services to the right people. It’s to provide people with the information they need to solve whatever problems are bugging them right now. Please know that if you’re offering a product or service that really does work, you’re doing your potential customers a HUGE disservice by not selling to them.

Sales isn’t as much a set of skills as it is a mindset. And if you approach your sales and marketing with this mindset, you’re on your way to producing excellent sales copy.

The problem isn’t ‘salesy’ copy, the problem is our perception of sales. If we bring sales back to what it really is — helping people find the right products or services to solve their problems — there’s nothing sleazy or unethical about it. Nothing to be ashamed of at all!

And really, if your copy isn’t ‘salesy’, if it isn’t written to sell, you have a problem. Then it’s just words on a page. So when you’re writing your own marketing copy or having someone write it for you, you don’t want to avoid ‘salesy’, what you really want to avoid is sleazy. There’s a huge difference — I’m glad I finally cottoned on!

 

Like this?

Try more posts for small business owners:

How to create a content marketing habit that sticks.

How to use social proof to boost your business.

How to run a cold emailing campaign without annoying your customers.

7 Benefits of Having a Business Blog

 

Have you started a business blog yet?

Or have you started, uploaded a couple of posts and then let it fade?

I mean, you have other stuff to do, right? You know, designing, coaching or whatever it is that your clients pay you to do…

I get it. Blogging takes time and it takes effort.

You have to set aside time to research, write and (for the love of the wee man don’t forget this bit), promote your blog posts.

Given the whole ‘time and effort’ objection to blogging, you might wonder why I made such a big deal of it in my previous post ‘How to market your business when you’re broke’. Sure, it’s free but is it really worth the hassle?

In a word, yes!

Now, if you’re happy to take my word for it, then you can go and get started right now.

If you still need a bit of convincing, I’ve listed below the most basic benefits you’ll get from starting your own business blog.

1. Improved SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Now, many copywriters are SEO experts—I am not. I’m not super- techy and they keep moving the damn goalposts on this one. Google changes its algorithms more often than I change my mind about my favourite Game of Thrones character.

 One thing that remains constant though, is that search engines love fresh content.

There is absolutely no point getting yourself an all-singing, all-dancing website and then letting it stagnate.

And that’s what’ll happen if you don’t keep updating your content. All of the well cared for websites, with new and exciting content will float to the top of the search pile, leaving yours to sink lower and lower into the depths.

It’s heartbreaking. Especially if you paid a fortune setting up your site in the first place!

The easiest way to introduce fresh content to your website: a blog.

2.Long-tail keywords

While we’re talking search engines, it’s worth knowing about long-tail keywords. This is something that probably deserves a post of its very own but I’m going to stick with just a simple explanation for now.

What are long-tail keywords and how are they going to help your business?

Let’s take my own business as an example. A relevant long-tail keyword might be ‘how to write a great landing page’. In search engine terms, this is going to have far less competition than the more generic ‘copywriter’ or ‘marketing copy’.

The more long-tail keywords your website contains, the more people will be able to find it —providing you are not jamming keywords in just for the sake of it. (Don’t do this! Google will recognise that you’re trying to cheat the system and will penalise you for it. Always remember you’re writing for people, not search engines).

Blog posts are a brilliant way of naturally incorporating long-tail keywords into your website.

3. Building relationships

Blogging is NOT about making sales. Increased sales will happen further down the line, but when you’re writing it’s worth remembering that the main purpose of your blog is to help your customers.

Before you even start blogging, it’s a good idea to spend some time putting together a strategy.

Consider who your customers are, what they want to know and how you can help them. What kind of topics could you cover that will improve their lives or their businesses?

Assuming you’re providing useful content and showing a bit of personality, your customers will come to know, like and trust you. When they get to the point that they’re ready to buy, they’re far more likely to come to you, the person they know, like and trust.

4. Establishing credibility

In a similar vein, by posting useful information about your industry you’re proving to your audience that you know your stuff.

Diplomas and qualifications are great but producing relevant content highlights that you are constantly honing your skills and keeping your knowledge fresh.

This shows your professionalism and your expertise —and instils confidence in your customers.

5. Getting to know your customers

When you’re blogging, invite your readers to comment on your posts. The conversations that can ensue here are a goldmine.

Are customers frequently asking the same questions? Great, there’s a topic for a new blog post or even a new page on your website.

Is there a recurring problem with one of your products? Great, now you know about it, you can fix it and tell everyone about the improvements you’ve made.

Maybe some of the comments are highlighting a particular problem that your clients are experiencing — here’s an opportunity for you develop or repackage one of your products or services.

6.Improve your industry knowledge

Not every blog post you write will require research. You are writing about your own industry after all. Some will though and when you’re researching these topics, I guarantee that you’ll improve your professional knowledge along the way. This will ultimately improve the service you’re offering your clients and help you grow your business.

7.Increased visibility

I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth saying again:

Promote your posts!

There is no point in writing a post that no one will ever read. As soon as you’ve hit publish, promote your post on every social media account you have, including your personal ones.

It is also worth adding any new posts to your newsletter or automatically emailing any new content to your email subscribers.

This is a great way to increase your visibility and stay at the forefront of your customer’s minds.

 

I’d love to know…

If you were on the fence about starting a blog, has any of the info here changed your mind one way or the other?

Have I missed anything out?

If you’ve been blogging for a while and spotted an obvious benefit that I haven’t mentioned here, let me know!

For more posts on marketing your small business, subscribe here:

 

Three things to include in your about me page…and one you should definitely avoid.

 

The question of how to write a great about me page or bio for your small business is one that constantly crops up in entrepreneurial discussion groups. So many small business owners freeze when it comes to tackling this particular piece of copy.

In my last post I concentrated on what not to do when writing your bio so now I’d like to leave you with 3 things to include and one that (in my opinion anyway), you should definitely avoid.

1. A photo

There are a few reasons that you should really include a photo on your about me page. We really are such visual creatures so use that to your advantage.

Imagine you’ve done the rounds at a trade show or a networking event. The people you’ve worked hard to connect with have likely connected with dozens of other business owners. There comes a point when it just becomes a blur. Later, when they get home with a pile of business cards to work their way through, they’ll hopefully click onto your website. When they do, make sure they know that it’s yours! Seeing your picture will remind them of “that really friendly guy who sells product x” or “that funny girl who does a good deal on web design”. Assuming you’ve made a good impression, they’re all the more likely to follow up with you.

Have you ever heard the old sales adage “People buy people”? It’s spectacularly cheesy but there’s a reason you’ll hear it mentioned at every sales training course you’ll ever encounter: it’s true. Let your customers see the person or people behind the brand. They’ll feel more confident in contacting you when they can visualise who they’ll be dealing with and they’ll be more willing to recommend you too.

Now, I realise this sounds a bit rich coming from me, given that I don’t actually have a photo on my own about me page as yet, but I promise it’s not too far down my to-do list. As soon as I find the time to get myself a haircut, I’ll be right on it!

2.Your USP

This sounds so simple but you’d be amazed at how many people get this bit wrong: have you included your USP?

Have you won any awards? Do you have more professional qualifications than the average Joe in your industry? Do you have any celebrity clients? Whatever you have or do that makes you special, that’ll make you stand head and shoulders above your competition, make sure you have included it in your about me page somewhere. Maybe your customer service goes above and beyond and you have client testimonials to prove it? So use it. That stuff is gold dust!

3.A call to action

Your web content should guide the reader at every step along the way and your about me page is no exception. You’ve dazzled them with your natural beauty and professional but friendly smile and you’ve told them all about that industry award you won last year. They like what they see so don’t give up now: tell them what they have to do next. Do you have a contact form you want them to fill in, an email address to write to, a number to call? Make sure it’s there and they can’t miss it.

If you’re writing a bio for a conference programme, magazine or any other type of print marketing, this rule is doubly important. Be sure to include follow up information for anyone reading about your business. They need to know your website URL, your twitter handle, your shop address, if you currently have any special offers. Give them a reason and way to get in touch with you and make it easy for them to do so.

Those are just a few things you should include. As promised, I’m also including one thing that for me is a big no-no when writing bios for small businesses.

I’ll preface this by saying that it possibly falls into the category of pet peeve rather than hard and fast copywriting rule but it just sets my teeth on edge.

If you are a sole trader, use I not we in your writing. You’ll see from my own about me page that I do use we but that is reserved for when I’m talking about copywriters and editors in general. When it comes to talking specifically about Crossan Language Services, I revert to writing in the first person.

As a sole trader I see no need to insinuate that I am anything other than a one (wo)man band. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a sole trader, in fact many people prefer working with freelancers. After all, there’s none of the getting passed from pillar to post that can happen when dealing with bigger companies, our rates are often more reasonable due to lower overheads and you know that if you need to talk to the big boss, you can, because there’s no one else to talk to!

Seeing sole traders write we in their about page as if there are 4 employees squeezed into Jane’s spare room just perplexes me. It feels dishonest and as I’ve hopefully just made clear, there’s really no need for it.

Sole traders, stand up and be proud of what you are; you’re going solo and smashing it.

Embrace the I!

If you want to connect or have a chat about any copy queries you have, drop me a line: office@clarecrossan.co.uk

The biggest mistake you’re making when writing your “about me” page.

Nothing strikes fear in the heart of small business owner quite like the thought of writing a bio page. Well, apart from tax returns. Or networking. Or…Okay, the point is, writing an “about me” page for your business, blog or whatever, is a tricky prospect.

And I guarantee you’ve been thinking about it all wrong.

The reason it’s so gosh darn tricky is that it feels completely unnatural to shout about your achievements. To sing your own praises. To blow your own trumpet. We’re British. That’s just not how we roll.

Well, I’ve got some good news for you. Are you paying attention to this bit? If you ignore the rest of this post or get distracted by a cup of lukewarm tea, or the dog throwing up on the carpet, make sure you at least take a note of this.

It’s not about you!

Phew, now you can relax.

As contradictory as it sounds, your “about me” page, just like the rest of your copy, is not about you.

As ever, it’s all about your customer.

So often, you’ll find websites, brochures and other marketing materials ruined by poor “about me” pages that basically just list a bunch of meaningless (to the reader, at least) qualifications or over-used adjectives (I’m a self-motivating, dynamic, creative individual. Sound familiar?).

 Don’t fall into this trap.

So you have letters after your name? Great! How will that allow you to solve your client’s problem?

You have ten years experience working in your chosen field? Wonderful! Now tell me how that will affect your customer.

Paint a picture of how your specific skill set will benefit your target audience and you’ll be on the right track.

Okay, it is a little bit about you…

Because nothing in the world of copywriting is black and white, there is, of course, a caveat here.

As long as you’ve paid proper attention to the skills and attributes that your customers are looking for and shown how these will benefit their business or improve their lives, it’s absolutely okay to share the odd bit of random information about you. It’s great to give people an idea of who you are and why you’ll be suited to working with them. This is especially true for anyone who has identified their own personality as part of their USP. So don’t be afraid to let a little bit of “you” shine through too.

Stay tuned for my next post which will give you a few more tips for tackling your “about me” page, including what to include and what you should definitely avoid.

Still not sure how to go about constructing the perfect “about me” page or bio? Give me a shout: office@clarecrossan.co.uk