We all know that calls out of the blue, from complete strangers saying, “Hey, I want to hire you!” are rare.  Unfortunately, leads don’t just fall out of the sky like that.

So  then imagine my excitement when I get a voice mail from a man who says he’s, ”just right up the street in the next town over” and asks, “Are you taking on new clients, because I have something for you.”  

I thought, “Woo hoo, a referral from someone I don’t even know!” I love it when that happens!

Well my excitement – and pride in my own stellar marketing skills – faded quickly when right off the bat he asks (in the most salesy of ways, mind you), “Carolyn, do you want more business?” 

Oh crap this is a sales call… I’ve been tricked! “Carolyn, I am great at getting B2B businesses more clients and I know you’re going to want to meet with me because I can help you...”

I’m thinking, “Excuse me?? Who are you? You know nothing about me! And you TRICK people!!! Why the hell would I want to hire you???”

Then he had the nerve to say to me, “This isn’t a sales call, Carolyn, so relax… “ (Ok, I don’t know about you, but when someone like this tells me to relax I want to go ballistic). He then went on and on and on about his many great accomplishments, how successful he is,  name dropping the big companies he’s worked with (many I’d also worked with), and telling me that he has what it takes to change my life.

He never once asked me who my target customer is, what my challenges are, or if I even wanted help. He did nothing but sell…

I was in sales and marketing for more than 15 years. And I’ll admit it; I made a lot of mistakes. During the first half of my career with no training and with the pressures of The Quota and the real need to put food on my table I tried some things that in retrospect make me cringe a little. I thought I was being creative, I realize now I acted just like Mr. Fake Referral. I pissed a lot of people off, blushed, crawled into a lot of holes, and apologized a ton… but I learned.

Luckily, during the second half of my career I had some great mentors and some of the best corporate sales training available. What I learned is that the key to great selling is knowing your audience (target market), what problem your product or service solves for them, why they buy when they buy, and what end result they are hoping for. If you know these things you can speak their language – and they’ll listen. If you don’t know these things do your homework; research, study, survey, or ASK. DON’T GUESS and DON’T EVER ASSUME ANYTHING!!!

Selling isn’t lying, tricking, manipulating, or cajoling people into buying from you. It’s about studying and knowing your target market so well and then positioning your product or service in such a way that they can’t wait to buy from you!!!

The bottom line is this: People love to buy but NO ONE likes to be sold.  So start studying and stop selling!

So how do you sell without SELLING?  Tell us your favorite selling strategy!

AvatarCarolyn Higgins

Carolyn Higgins is the President and founder of Fortune Marketing Company. Her personal mission is to help small businesses stop wasting money on advertising and promotions that don’t deliver and help business owners implement an effective marketing system that will bring in more customers—consistently. For more information about Fortune Marketing Company visit the Fortune Marketing Company website or blog.