The knot in your stomach before you make that sales call. That awkward feeling when you’re pitching to a client because you already know they’re not interested. The dread of an unanswered email enquiry. It’s safe to say sales isn’t everyone’s favourite part of their business.

You’ve no doubt experienced this from the other side of the sales pitch too — feeling pushed, rushed, hustled, the dreaded upsell, a scripted pitch, or the salesperson who doesn’t answer your questions and just keeps leading you in other directions. You’d hate to come off that way.

So how can you spread the word about your amazing products and services without being too ‘salesy’?

Let’s start by shifting your mindset about what sales can be. 

The trouble is we’ve been taught to think about sales all wrong. 

The word ‘salesperson’ might make you think of a fellow from the 1950s, going door-to-door,  peddling his products to anyone who answers the bell. His goal is to make his sales quotas. Full stop.

When you change your goals and perspective about sales, you can shake off that ‘salesy’ feeling.

Instead of seeing yourself as someone whose only goal is to get prospects to whip out their credit card, you’re actually a human who’s genuinely trying to help another human solve a problem. 

But how do you actually do sales differently? Read on for three tips to help you rethink your approach.

1. Sales tip: Remembering that someone, somewhere really needs what you’re selling

‘Why am I getting these ads?!’

You scroll past those same ads for gardening services every time you get on your socials. What makes it especially annoying is that you adore your garden and do all of your own maintenance. 

Until you twist your ankle and can’t garden for six weeks — which is when those ads you’ve been ignoring become the very thing you need. 

Your business solves a problem; someone out there really needs what you’re selling (whether it’s now or later). And when you focus entirely on them, your sales pitch will feel much more natural and less ‘salesy’.

You’ll find it easier to focus on what your business can do for your client — how it solves a problem or improves outcomes — instead of enumerating the specs and features of what your product is.

For example, the gardening service trims your hedges and deadheads your flowers — what it is

They help people like you who aren’t able to do their own gardening — what they do — so your garden is well-tended and beautiful — the outcome of the service.

In our case, Clear Books sells online accounting software — what it is. The software makes it possible for small business owners to manage their finances in an easy, efficient way — what we do.

We help business owners save time so they can focus on the next stage of growth — which is how we improve our customers’ outcomes.

When you remember that folks out there genuinely need your gardening services, your accounting software, or whatever it is you’re selling, it becomes easier to focus less on your own sales figures and more on matching the right service to the right customer.


2. Sales tip: Listen like a pro

As a client, there’s nothing worse than having your time wasted. 

You’re listening to an overly-scripted sales pitch, trying to be polite, and nodding at all the right spots, but you’ve glazed over. You’re not paying attention to the pitch or the product, you’re thinking about what to pick up from the shops on the way home. 

Another problem from the customer’s perspective is the premature upsell. Unless it’s handled with exceptional graciousness (and usually it’s not), there’s the possibility that an upsell may alienate a potential customer. If your customer isn’t interested, you’ve just put them in the awkward position of trying to determine how to politely decline the offer.

Boring your customer or making them feel awkward is not the way to increase sales.

But you can avoid both of these issues by listening. Really listening. Listening like there’s nothing in the world as important as that person standing in front of you.

It’s possible that you still might talk too much — even if you’re not upselling or over-pitching — and especially if you’re passionate about your work. 

But asking open-ended questions helps you learn about your client’s wants and needs, so you can both determine if your business is a good fit. When you ask clarifying questions, it shows you care about matching the client to the right product or service. 

If you’ve paid attention to your customer’s needs, you’ll know if it’s the right moment to pitch an upsell — or if it’s best to leave it out. 

Good listening is the opposite of the scripted pitch or the standard upsell.You’re honouring and respecting your client’s time as you hone in on the specific nature and details of their individual problem.  

3. Sales tip: Be honest, be authentic, be human

Remember that the sales process is an inherently human activity rooted in our history. Even before we had currency, humans traded and bartered for what they needed. In those days, it could be life or death based on who you trusted (‘are those the poisonous berries or the safe ones?’).

It’s not often a case of life and death these days, but people still like to buy things from people they trust and feel connected to — no robots or salesbots, please!

Being real with your clients allows this personal connection to happen. 

What might that look like?

Your client wants to hear a bit of your own business origin story, and why you chose this business or problem to solve. In our case, people appreciate hearing that Clear Books evolved from a simple app developed by our founder who wanted to help his friends and family with their accounting needs. 

When you’re straightforward about the solutions your business can offer, your client gets a picture of the possibilities. Equally important is being honest about what your business can’t or won’t do. This ensures that you and your client are on the same page, and also builds their trust in you. 

Focusing on the client’s needs shows that, above all, you care that they get the right solution — you’re not just there to make a sale. Even if you don’t make a sale with that one client, you’ll likely reap the rewards of future referrals if you’ve made a connection. Without ever feeling like you’ve had to sell your soul.

Clear Books accounting software is here to help make accounting easier for small business owners. Ready to try it? Start your free 30-day trial today.

Clear Books Online Accounting Software

Clear Books is an award-winning online accounting software for small businesses. Thousands of business owners, contractors, freelancers and sole traders across the UK use our easy-to-use online accounting software to manage their business finances. All users benefit from the outstanding free telephone and email support. Clear Books was launched in London in 2008 and offers a free 30 day trial with free ongoing support and bank feeds. We’re rated as ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot.

Get a free 30-day trial of Clear Books online accounting software here.

Posted by Clear Books