Two Important Business Lessons in Selling Your Products or Services

Two Important Business Lessons in Selling Your Products or Services
Photo by Tim Chesney

Two Important Business Lessons in Selling Your Products or Services

  • Do you often talk to others without mentioning the products or services you provide?

  • Do you need to be in a "sales environment", such as a networking event, to feel right about talking about your business?

  • Do you prefer to keep things to yourself, thinking no one would be interested?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, you're not alone. As an introverted writer, I prefer to keep things to myself when talking with others. But being at the farmers market last week reinforced two business lessons that we all need to focus on if we want to be successful in business: selling ourselves and conveying the value of our products or services.

If we want to be successful, other people need to know what we do. We can't just put up a website and expect people to come and buy our stuff. We can't just use flyers at an event table and expect people to understand what we do. At the farmers market, my husband and I get a lot of people who don't know that we actually sell eggs onsite. They'll ask if we're taking orders for eggs. Even though a large refrigerated truck is parked behind us, some people don't realize that it is ours (our egg sign is still at the print shop).

So, to let people know what we do, we must talk to them. We must talk about our product whether it is a book, a personal improvement seminar, or a music CD.

How do you bring up your stuff? The best question for this is: "What do you do for a living?"

But we don't always get that question from others. It's a question that can have a dreaded answer, like when the speaker goes into a long, drawn-out sales pitch about how he can help the listener improve his finances with his financial planning services. It typically ends with "I'd love to sit down and chat with you about how I could help you lower your debt."

To avoid potentially dreaded answers, most of us have stopped asking the question.

So, how do you bring up your stuff then if people won't ask?

You have to look for the opportunity. I'm not talking about being a slimey salesperson, where every time you talk to someone you're trying to get him to buy from you. That's slimey. What I'm talking about here is bringing up what you do or what you're working on in a normal conversation. During your conversation, pay attention to common ground. If they mention anything similar to what you're doing, bring it up. Say something like "I'm actually writing a book on how to raise your own backyard chickens." Some people will be interested, some won't. If you found the right opportunity, they'll ask you more about it or even express interest in buying it.

Selling yourself in print is easier than you think. If you look at other people's marketing materials, and think, "Gee, why can't I write something like that?", change your thought processes to believe that you can write it. Take the basic ideas from the materials you like and use them to talk about your own products or services. If your product or service is valuable and helpful to others, you deserve to write your materials in a way that will get others to respond positively. You just have to believe it.

The pre-launch or development stages are the best times to start talking about your work. It helps create buzz and if people find your project interesting, they'll ask you about your progress. They may even offer to help. It gets people involved and interested in your work.

You need to start building your platform early, so when you do go to launch your product, people are already interested in it and willing to buy. You're developing a relationship with your prospects so they can quickly become customers when the time comes. Some, of course, may not buy your products, but they're supporting you nonetheless. Just having a friend on your list (such as your Facebook fan page "like" list), even if she doesn't interact with you, gives you more confidence that you are doing good things. Having some cheerleaders is a good thing!

If you tell no one, you'll lose the momentum when you're finally launching your product. The excitement will be gone once you discover no one really cares. But if you had mentioned it as you were working on it, people would have more of a vested interest. They went along on the journey with you from the beginning. They'll feel a closer bond with you, and they'll want you to succeed. They'll also be more willing to help you out to sell your product.

If people don't know what you do or what services or products you provide, you'll miss out on selling opportunities. They won't know that they need to look into your work. Maybe the people in your immediate network won't be interested, but they might be able to connect you with others who are.

There is more to selling ourselves than just talking about what we do. We must step up and convey our value to others. When we do that, people will understand where we're coming from and be willing to help us.

At the farmers market, it became apparent that we needed to sell our eggs better. And by "sell", I mean communicate the value and talk about why the prospects needed our eggs. Things that mattered were: soy-free, GMO-free, free-range, fresh eggs (our eggs are up to 75 days fresher than store eggs).

Those are important business lessons that can help you get your business off the ground. Think about what might interest the person based on what you've learned about him. Pay attention to the words he uses and what messages he sends with his physical appearance, posture, facial expression, and hand gestures. Paying attention to those little details can make a huge difference to your business.

Jody Calkins
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