A guest on my podcast from years past, Parisjat Umscheid, messaged me recently about who to be when you’re not selling.
Those weren’t her words; they were my summary. Her words:
“Do you have a course on how people should promote their products on Facebook and Instagram and not keep posting and selling their products? I feel like a lot of people I know keep posting their beauty products and supplements constantly, and it’s annoying because they are selling, not serving.”
My first thought? No, I don’t teach people how to sell products. I work with service providers.
My second thought? Whoa, where’d that limit come from? All of my service providers ARE selling even if it’s not a physical product. But the message is the same!
Everything I do comes down to this.
Serve, don’t sell.
Parisjat’s message was inspired by direct sales friends online. It’s easy to rip on the MLM-hocking friends of yours on Facebook. I’ve done that, and I’ll probably do it again because it irks me when I receive unsolicited messages in my inbox.
One of my clients is in the direct selling industry, and she’s doing such a great job serving her audience. She sells Monat, a haircare and now also a skincare company. She’s doing it the right way. She’s adding value to her audience with a combination of inspiration, education, and yes, sometimes selling. I want to mention that it CAN be done, and I see it being done well, even on social media.
And now we’ll leave behind the MLM world because what I’m about to talk about is something matters universally.
It’s not just for health and wellness pros.
It’s not just for online business owners.
It’s not just for local, in-person business owners, either.
It’s for people.
We–all of us–are salespeople.
Some of us are poor salespeople and could use some brushing up on people skills, sure. But we’re doing it.
Case in point? Last week my husband came out and announced Sweet Tomatoes is not opening back up, even when the “stay home, stay safe” order is lifted. (For those of you that don’t have a local Sweet Tomatoes, it’s a salad bar or buffet restaurant.)
I’ve eaten there plenty of times. I’d consider myself a foodie, and I’ll admit it’s not high quality food. It serves a purpose. It’s easy to take the kids there. Honestly, it’s just easy altogether. So we’re bummed it won’t be opening up again.
My dad, however, hates the place. He thinks it’s the worst kind of food and a waste of space.
I want you to imagine my husband trying to sell my dad on going to Sweet Tomatoes.
“It’s a buffet – there’s something for everyone!”
- “Not if they don’t have anything I want in the first place.”
“The kids love it and they’ll be much quieter!”
- “I’d rather eat at home.”
I could go on, of course, but I’m sure you get the drift. My husband loves a product, so he wants to sell everyone on it. But it’s lost on a person who doesn’t value the same things.
Now let’s circle this back to online business owners. I’m a marketing and branding strategist after all.
The reason salespeople get a bad reputation is that they try to apply a one-size-fits-all model to selling. That’s a mistake. (If you’re new to this site, I’ll encourage you to listen to the Know, Like & Trust Show to learn about your best client in Ditch the Ideal Client Avatar #077.)
The reason MLMs get a bad reputation is that ALL they do is sell. They don’t know what to talk about if they aren’t talking about a product. This is also a mistake.
If you’re a business, you have to make money. I am NOT telling you to give up selling altogether. I’m teaching you what to do in the “off-season.”
You’re going to sell and sell a lot when you’re launching a new program, debuting a new course. That’s a given. You won’t be able to stay in business without it.
But if you don’t want to be seen as yet another sleazy salesperson, you have to learn who to be when you’re not selling.
Who that is? It’s all a question of what your personal brand means to the marketplace.
I’ve used realtors as an example before. Are you the nurturing, education-friendly realtor for first-time homebuyers? Or are you the wheeling-and-dealing go-getter who only takes million-dollar listings? Who to be when you’re not selling will change drastically between those two people.
Since I’ve definitely picked on MLMs on this topic, I’ll throw you a bone if you’re in direct selling.
Are you the solution-oriented and product-focused salesperson who ignores the haircare side of the business and focuses on skincare for millennials who can’t kick their acne? This person would build a lot of how-to videos and instruction into their off-season content.
- I’d recommend a complete tutorial on their morning routine, their evening wash and moisturize routine for starters.
- I’d probably show which products are better for certain hormonal times of the month.
- I’d talk about what a client needs to do for their body besides skincare to get the most out of the products.
- And even though they’re selling specific products, I’d do a whole series on how to choose products from another brand–which ingredients to avoid and which to look for–because it would subtly point to their own as the best.
- I could go on here… even though I’m by no means an expert on the subject.
All of this leads to the audience, the future clients, looking to you as the expert. When you build that trust, you’ve completed the KLT journey. You’re the de facto expert in their eyes. They’ll come back again and again for more value and when it IS time to sell? They are far more likely to buy.
This is a warm audience.
If you’re a yoga instructor who teaches community classes, you aren’t going to walk into class one day and tell everyone you’ll be starting with headstands.
No, you’d post a flyer on the community board that you’re doing an advanced six-week workshop with all the right steps to get your body ready for a headstand.
Hopping online and telling everyone they need to buy a particular product is like walking into a yoga class for Seniors and telling them it’s time to do a headstand. Today. Without any prep.
DMing people you haven’t built a relationship with (to know whether you’re their best client) is like telling my dad we’re going to Sweet Tomatoes.
Of course, there are exceptions to these rules.
My husband likes craft beer and generally turns up his nose to the Bud Lights of the world, but when we were boating on the river in 110-degree weather, he had no problem downing a Corona.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can sell my husband a Corona the other 360 days of the year.
You don’t want to try to build a business around the exception. That’s not going to fill your online courses or group programs WITH EASE.
You want to build a business around clients that desire your services ALL 365 days of the year.
Nurturing your audience with content you derive from your brand foundation work is where it’s at.
In fact, when you’ve done your brand foundation work, who to be in the off season, who to be when you’re NOT selling is easy. You’ve already done the work!
If you’re ready to learn, once and for all, who YOU need to be when you’re not selling and you’re reading this shortly after publishing, I’m currently enrolling for Secret to Sought-Out, my group program that teaches you what to say, where to say it & how to show up visually online to attract perfect-match clients.