Want to grow your business fast? Get better at selling.
Every successful business is built on sales. And if we define sales as simply communicating the value of an idea or action, I think it is safe to say that everyone is now a salesperson.
Coaches who embrace this fact, who commit to learning the strategies of successful selling, reap most (if not all) of the rewards. They build sustainable businesses, make a difference with their work, and earn the trust of other people.
Those who resist selling are in a constant struggle to get traction.
Sounds like a no brainer, right? Here’s the problem…
Most people hate selling.
Why Traditional Selling Sucks (And What To Do Instead)
Sales is stigmatized. Most of us have trouble shaking the image of a used car salesman or telemarketer. We’re used to old-fashioned, pushy, pressure-filled sales tactics.
When you sell that way, it doesn’t feel good. It also isn't very effective. Fortunately, there’s another way…
Selling through service.
When you sell through service, it doesn’t feel like selling. It feels like you’re supporting someone in unleashing their full potential.
Selling through service is one of the most sacred things you can do for another human being. You’re helping them cut through all of their internal fears and bullshit. You’re helping them commit emotionally to a future outcome that they want.
How To Sell Through Service: The 3 C’s
Here are the three basic steps for effective selling. I call them the 3 C’s of selling. If you follow this formula, you’ll be more persuasive, help more people with what you do, and make the money you need to keep doing it sustainably.
(Note: This isn't meant to be a rigid formula. As you get more comfortable with sales, you'll learn how to have the conversation in a way that feels natural to you. I just know that it can be helpful to have a process when you are starting out.)
Step 1: CLARIFY their situation, desires, and obstacles
Every great sales conversation starts with curiosity. This is about more than just "getting rapport". It's about getting into another person's world.
Until you understand the person you are talking to – their background, fears, and desires – it’s useless to talk about what you have to offer them. You need to know their problem before you can offer a solution.
In fact, you want to understand this person’s problem even better than they understand it themselves. Then you need to create a clear vision or solution that is specific to them. One that they may not even be able to imagine at first.
That’s why this first step is called “clarify”. Right off the bat you are serving this person by asking questions and reflecting their world back to them. The idea is that even if you stopped after this step alone, you would have already created a lot of value.
Ask them about what they want to create. Ask them what's stopping them. Ask them about why it's so important for them to get this area of their life handled.
If you're a coach, you might ask permission to do a bit of coaching. If you're a consultant, you can offer them new perspectives and models that help them better understand their situation. Whatever your knowledge or expertise is, don't be stingy with it here.
If you're selling through service, you should be spending about 80–90% of your time on this step. Most people do the opposite. They rush through this step and suffer the consequences later on.
Step 2: CONNECT what they want to what you have
Once you have fully immersed yourself in this person’s world, it’s time to connect what they want to what you have.
Because the truth is, they don’t want what you have. They want a specific result.
Let me explain…
As a coach, I’m not selling the process of coaching. I’m selling the future that coaching can get for the person I’m talking to. Coaching is just a tool, and they don’t really care about exactly what it is or how it works.
Another example: People don’t buy a mousetrap because they want a mousetrap. They buy a mousetrap because they want a mouse-free house. See the difference?
It’s your job to connect the dots for this person. How does what you’re offering help get them the specific result they want? What’s in it for them?
Say the person I’m talking to wants to pursue a new project but is feeling overwhelmed with tasks. I might talk about how will coaching can help them manage their energy more effectively and ultimately help them get moving on their project faster. I’ll even use their specific words to describe the problem.
Again, lots of value is being created here. You're showing them a path to getting what they want. It's up them whether they want to walk that path with you or not.
Step 3: CLOSE to the sale by helping them make a decision
Sales gurus like to talk a lot about “the close”. It’s over-rated. In a perfect world, this would be the shortest part of your sales conversation.
Having said that, you still need to close the conversation in some way. You can’t just trail off and hope that the person is going to initiate the next step completely on their own. You have to lead.
First ask yourself: do you want to work with this person? Do they inspire you? If not, you can just kindly end the conversation right there.
If it’s a fit, ask them if they want to hear more. You might say something like, "Would you want to hear about how we could work together to implement [whatever you said in Step 2]?"
If they do, explain to them what that would look like, first in terms of structure and then it terms of the investment (monetary or otherwise). Remember to stay connected to the outcome that they want.
And please: Don't be needy. Neediness is the killer of all sales. Make sure that your voice tone doesn’t go up at the end of your sentences. It shouldn't sound like you’re asking a question when you state your rates.
Once you’ve done this, stop talking. Shut up. Let them sit with it.
If they’re a YES, great.
If not, find out why. This is not about being pushy. It’s about creating more value.
Remember: You want what is best for them. If there is something getting in the way of that, you want to find out what it is. In other words, the fact that they hesitated doesn't mean that your work is done.
What to Do If They "Need to Think About It"
Here are two questions to ask that get to the core of what’s stopping them (hint: it’s probably not money):
1. “If money was not an issue, if you suddenly had X dollars in your bank account right now, would you be a YES?”
This question will help you find out if there's anything else they are not saying that’s keeping them from investing. Once you know what that thing is, you can address it directly.
2. “What is the cost of NOT moving forward with this investment?”
Often, when someone says that they can’t afford what you’re offering, it just means that they don’t perceive the value of it to be worth the cost. If they say yes to the first question, that money is the only thing getting in the way of moving forward, you want to make sure that they understand the value of what you offer.
This second question is why Steps 1 and 2 are so important. If you've already built a solid foundation of understanding, you may not have to work through objections like these. But if they do come up, it helps to remind the person about the outcome that they want, and specifically why they want it.
The great part of this whole process is that you are serving the person the entire time. Even if they end up a NO, they’ll walk away with a better understanding of themselves and what they need to do to achieve their goals. Isn't that great to know?
The Secret To Effective Selling
There is a crucial component to selling that most people never talk about. Without it, none of what I just described will work.
Before I tell you what the secret is, I have a confession to make…
I love selling.
I remember hosting yard sales all the time as a kid. I used to drive a pretty hard bargain for my stuffed animals. The reason I could do that was because I thought they were awesome.
And that’s the secret: selling through service only works when you believe 100% in what you’re selling. I knew this as a kid, which is why I charged so much for my toys. It feels really good to help someone make a decision that will have a positive impact on their life.
Do you trust your ability to transform your clients and customers?
If not, what’s one step you can take today to build that trust?
Remember: the first sale is always yourself.