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4 Ways to Sell Without Selling

Selling sucks.

At least that old school, “always be closing,” type of selling does. If you feel yourself cringe a little (or a lot) at the thought of selling, then please know you are not alone. No one loves the cold messenger outreaches in LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram. It feels icky because it is icky.

Think about it: a rank stranger invades your private inbox, and before you even say hello, they are asking if you are ready to 10X your business in less than thirty days. (Sure! Who isn’t? But why would I believe you are the one to help me do it?) Never mind the phone calls from spammers, and the bots flooding your email from your website.

If you think this is what selling requires of you, and you feel dirty doing anything even remotely like what I just described, then I have great news. You never, ever need to do any of those things in order to grow your business. Whew!

There is a caveat, however. Growing your business will take your time. You can’t use a website or social media posts as a selling crutch. They can help you sell, but at the end of the day, you are the one who must sell your product or service. You just don’t need to get dirty in the process.

#1: Leverage Your Network

If you are starting a business, pivoting your approach, or looking to grow rapidly, there is nothing better than reaching out to your network. Call them, email them, or reach out via LinkedIn or even Facebook. We all have a network, even if you are just starting out. It doesn’t need to be huge. Just 10-20 people can get the momentum going.

Reach out to your connections—the ones who know, like and trust you—and ask them if they have a couple of minutes. Tell them what you are doing, and see if they know anyone who might need your offering. Some will. Some won’t. But here’s the thing: referrals close at 83%. Cold leads close at 10%, at best.

Your network will generally love to refer you. They get to be the insider, and, as long as they really do love your work, they will not hesitate. If the person they refer you to isn’t interested, no problem. Ask who they know who might be a better fit! It’s still a referral.

#2: Create Partnerships

Whatever your product or service is, someone else has another product or service that works beautifully with yours. Combining your efforts can double the visibility and leads for both of you. Find ways to collaborate, cross-sell and co-market one another.

There are a couple of caveats here.

  1. Be sure the quality and service of a partner is at the same level (or better) than yours, since you cannot afford to undermine your brand through these sort of efforts.

  2. Remember not to give away what you do, or undervalue it, as a result of the partnership.

#3: Amplify Your Brand

When you intentionally build a brand for yourself, it will do the majority of the sales heavy lifting for you. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t understand what branding actually is, or how it works. As a result, they treat branding as window dressing, rather than a core business activity.

Amplifying your brand is not difficult, and it can be done at any stage of the business-building process, although it is infinitely easier to do it from the outset, and grow from that strong foundation.

Here is what a brand isn’t:

  1. Your logo, fonts, colors and imagery (these are a reflection and projection of your brand, they are not your brand itself)

  2. Your website, business cards, and social media presence (again, these are a reflection and projection of your brand)

  3. Your services, products or process

So what’s left? Well, here’s what a brand is:

  1. Your values and your results

  2. The experience of working with you, or using your product

  3. The personality you and your business exude

You amplify your brand by crystalizing your content and those items under what your brand isn’t so they optimally communicate what your brand is. I should be able to tell by looking at your imagery, colors, fonts, logo, website, etc. what your values are, how it would feel to work with you, and what results I ought to expect. When you make your brand about the customer, instead of about you, sales inevitably go up.

#4: Play Small

Today you are constantly bombarded by the message that social media, paid online advertising, SEO, professional speaking, book sales and funnel marketing are the path to mega-growth. This is rarely true, and when it is, it comes at a high financial cost. The investment required often cannot be recouped.

Instead, think of selling as having a series of individual, personal conversations. You can do this through networking groups, attending events, engaging in forums (not with a sales pitch, but as a part of a dialog,) speaking on podcasts, and reaching out to that network of key connections you already have.

Show up. Be curious about the other individuals who are there. Find out what they are doing well, and what they are struggling with. Where it is appropriate, share your insights and approaches. Contribute generously to the groups where you decide to focus your time, and often within only one or two engagements, you will begin to receive real, substantive opportunities, without ever having to get dirty trying so very hard to sell, sell, sell.

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