7 ways to sell that are not sleazy, manipulative or gross (part 2)

It was 2am.

I couldn’t sleep.

I was two weeks in to my very first telesummit. You know the kind? I interview an expert. With every interview we give away a ton of incredible, free content. And then the expert sells something.

Seemed like a fair exchange to me.

But then I got that email.

Maybe you know the one?

The angry reader asking how dare I be so manipulative as to sell? And could I please unsubscribe her from my list as quickly as possible.

Today, as a much more experienced entrepreneur, I bless those folks and send them on their way.

But back then, it crushed me.

Because it played in to every fear I had about selling.

So, with the sun fast asleep, I climbed out of from under my dark red comforter and quietly tiptoed over to my desk. I turned on my computer, and proceeded to send an email to my ENTIRE list apologizing for selling.

I explained that I only wanted to give them great value and I was sorry, deeply sorry if I seemed manipulative or sleazy.

I sent this to a couple thousand people all because of that one single email.

And a whole lot of fear and shame.

Needless to say, I woke up the next morning to dozens of emails from folks reassuring me that they didn’t feel I was the least bit sleazy or manipulative and, were in fact, incredibly grateful for all that I had put together and was offering the world.

I learned a very powerful lesson that day:

Some people never want you to sell. And

And I would NEVER apologize for serving again.

Does Selling Totally Freak You Out?

If the idea of selling freaks you out,  if you feel like selling is sleazy or manipulative,  or you just really hate to be rejected, read last week’s post first.

And now for Part 2…

Here are 7 ways on how to sell to serve

1. Connect.

Connection comes from knowing and caring about your audience.

Connection matters more than anything. Because, ultimately, a person buys from you because they trust you and they trust you because they connect with you.

There are many ways to create connection with a potential client or customer.  My favorite way to connect is simply by being oneself. If you are authentic, you can’t screw connection up.

This doesn’t necessarily mean spill your guts or share your latest trauma.  It also doesn’t mean pretending to know more than you do, or be more than you are. People will connect when they know that you are being real. We are hungry for this in the age of “having it all together” and “showing up the expert.”

By simply being you, you will connect.

2. Give generously.

Give great content. Share often. And make amazing stuff.

Gary Vaynerchuk describes this in his book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is based on the science of boxing. In this case,  jabs are acts of generosity and the right hook is the sale. The right hook always follows several jabs.

Gary writes…

“There’s a reason why boxing is called ‘the sweet science.’… the right hook gets all the credit for the win, but it’s the ring movement & the series of well-planned jabs that come before it that set you up for success. Without a proper combination of jabs to guide your customer-I mean your opponent- right where you want him, your right could be perfect and your opponent (or customer) could still dodge it as easily as a piece of dandelion fluff. Precede that perfectly executed right hook with a combination of targeted, strategic jabs, however, & you will rarely miss.”

3. Be upfront.

Don’t pretend like you’re not selling. You have nothing to hide, so don’t.

Don’t rush through the “pitch”  in a webinar or awkwardly insert it at the end of a casual conversation. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

Remember: Selling is Serving.

You have created something that can help someone else. Be proud of that.

Here’s an example of how to use this in a sales conversation:

“I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions to get an idea as to where you are at, what challenges you are dealing with and where you want to be. Then we’ll look at what you need to do to get from where you are to where you want to be. And then at the end of this conversation, we’ll see if we want to keep working together. How does that sound?

By asking the question, “At the end of this conversation, we’ll see if we want to keep working together,” you are being upfront and getting their agreement that, at the end, you will probably sell them a coaching program. It’s honest, upfront and everyone knows the deal.

4. Give people what they want.

Selling what people want is, in a lot of ways, its own course. I really teach this idea in the Know Your Niche Training and an upcoming Product Creation course in the Bootstrapper’s Academy. But for now know this:

A lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to sell what they think their customer wants instead of what their customer is actively looking for. This is when it really feels like “the hard sell” because you’re trying to convince someone to buy what you feel is valuable.  That’s just not how it works.

Paul Jarvis writes in “Everything I know,”

“It’s not enough that you’re excited about something; other people (your audience) also need to be excited enough to pay for it. You could create a product so exciting that you let out childish “squees” every time you think about it. But if no one wants to buy it, you can’t make a business from it.”

People buy what they think is valuable. And what they think is valuable is either a solution to a problem they are having or the fulfillment of a desire.

As Chris Guillebeau writes in the $100 startup,

“The hard way to start a business is to fumble along, uncertain whether your big idea will resonate with customers. The easy way is to find out what people want and then find a way to give it to them.”

So how you do you know what someone wants?

Ask them.

  1. Begin with superficial questions such as
    • How long have you been interested in this topic? How long have you been tryting to solve this problem? What are some other things you’ve tried?
  2. Follow this up with more direct questions such as
    • What are your biggest fears around…? What is most frustrating to you about…? What do you feel most challenged by?
  3. And then more specific questions (This is where the deep listening comes in)
    • What’s your biggest frustration with…?
    • What have you tried so far that hasn’t worked?
    • What is your biggest fears when it comes to…? (These are the things you want to be solving and putting into your products and services).
    • What worries you? What are afraid will happen if you don’t do something about it immediately?
    • What would you be willing to do to solve/get…?
    • If you could have one question answered about your challenge what would it be?

Find out what they want and then sell it to them.

5. Then go for the results.

When creating the best damn product or service you can, it’s not about your process or your special tools, it’s about getting the results that the customer is looking for. Someone doesn’t hire a coach because he uses Jungian psychology or has three degrees, they hire him because they don’t want to feel like crap anymore. That is the result they are looking for. And that is the result you provide.

So focus on the results the customer wants.

It’s not about the features. It’s not about your experience or expertise. It is always about the results. Provide that.

6. Deliver great value.

It’s really easy to sell something if you know it has great value.

When I started selling my services as a coach I sucked at it. I was just beginning. How could I possibly be any good? Why on earth would someone want to pay me?

So I offered low prices. Taking clients on at a lower price gave me experience and confidence. As I got better I charged more because I knew the value of what I was offering. I could stand behind it 100%.

When you deliver great value, you feel fabulous. And people are happy to pay for it.


Because it’s what people want, it delivers results, and it’s the best damn thing you can make.

“If you make your business about helping others, you’ll always have plenty of work.” – anonymous

7. And lastly, tweak.

Adjust as you go along.

Selling is a practice. Something we learn as we grow and get better at the more we do. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t. And then change accordingly. Get a coach if you need. Take my  upcoming selling course in the Bootstrapper’s Academy. And know that it takes practice. And the only way you practice is by selling.

And for even more tips on how to sell without being sleazy definitely check out this excellent post titled, “The Guilt-Free Guide to Earning An Honest Buck From Your Blog” by Gary Korisko.

I know selling is hard. It’s scary. It brings up our insecurities and it’s putting yourself out there in a very vulnerable way.

But if you are serious about creating a business that matters, you have to sell.

It’s high time we stopped treating selling like a disease or something only greedy, sleazy people do.

Yes, we’re inviting people in, yes we’re making offers, but in the end, we are selling. Selling stuff we care about. Selling results people want. And selling incredible value that transforms lives.

You have every right to be damn proud of that.

So tell me… did this post resonate with you? What do you think about selling? Tips on selling? Share them in the comments below. I read and respond to every one.

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  1. says

    I love your ideas about selling. They make sense to me. But there is a deep dark fear inside me around selling that I wish I could overcome. I have worked in the arts my whole life, as a performer, director, teacher and writer. I believe I have something to offer to the world, but so far – I have only managed to GIVE my ideas away! And even when it comes to putting my writing out into the world, I seem to go into a deep dark mood – before attempting it! I have finally got the support of an online music publisher who like my songs and have taken me on as one of their composers. But with six children – I really would LOVE to find a way to reach a broader public – with teaching and writing.
    Everything you say makes sense. DOING it is another matter! But I really appreciate your ideas and it is SO FANTASTIC to see someone who gets it that we are being OVERSOLD.

    I have seen ALOT of sales pitches and am so weary of the same ol same ol! But I know there are people out there like you who are genuine, who are the real deal and truly have something to offer.

    I pray that it is the likes of YOU who are the survivors on the internet. I pray that people get wise to all the sharks out there, and just stop paying them any attention. The internet is a wonderful tool, but so easily abused.

    Thank you – for NOT abusing it!

    I wish you the best of everything.


    • says

      HI Kate,

      Thank you so much!

      As you said, “everything makes sense. DOING it is another matter.” Doing it is, by far, the hardest part. :) But it’s also the most rewarding. There is definitely work folks can do to get over their “blocks” but honestly, what I have found to be most effective, is just doing it.

      Have you sold your stuff in the past and had positive experiences with it?

  2. says

    I love this, Daphne. I have been following you before you shifted toward the more business side but I know you’ve always been really good at selling and never once did I get angered or frustrated because you always provided so much VALUE nonetheless and the connection felt genuine and authentic each time. Great post. Looking forward to more :)

    • says

      Hi Kamila,

      Thank you for that. Everything I do (or nearly everything) is about creating value. I’m grateful that you receive so much value from what I do. BTW, I love your name. :)

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