You know what? Sales give me the chills. Even hearing the word Sales makes me want to run away. To say I dislike Sales would be an understatement.
Salespeople push you, they manipulate you, they would do anything for you to sign the deal. Even if it’s not in your best interest. Do you relate?!
However, as I am starting my coaching business – I have to do Sales. There’s no other way. I have to market and sell my services as a professional coach.
It’s time to face all my unpleasant feelings around Sales.
Let’s unpack Sales
Imagine a situation. You do a trial training at a new, fancy gym. After you are done, the trainer sits with you to share the conditions of the contract and the price structure. He then straight away asks you if you want to sign a subscription. A yearly subscription.
Deep inside you know this type of training is not for you. It’s indoors, it’s too specialized, and the price is not something you’re willing to pay. Yes, it claims to be very effective – only 20min a day will get you fit. But you’re not convinced.
On top of that, you’re at a moment of transformation in your life. You’ve taken some time off. You don’t even know if you’ll be in the city in the next 6 months or so. It’s not the right time for a binding contract.
So, why don’t you just say NO?
This guy is friendly and honestly, he’s also good-looking. He spent an hour of his time showing you the training. He must have expectations. You feel obligated to him. So, instead of directly saying No, you start beating around the bush. You start playing games.
I’ll think about it and come back to you.
If he is a good salesman, he’ll push back and ask: “What are you waiting for? What is staying in the way?”. A round of objection handling takes place.
You dance this dance for a certain time. You waste his and your precious time. Cos’ you know you don’t want to buy the damn training.
Is there an option to have an unbinding contract?
Like single visits, or 2-3 months instead of a year?
No, they don’t offer it. Even if they do – they will charge you a premium for the flexibility. The gym wants to have you invested long-term. Achieving results takes a consistent showing up. It won’t happen with single visits now and then.
You feel pushed, a little intimidated. You’re at the fancy, new gym, it’s not your territory, so you feel even weaker to say NO.
Finally you put an end to the suffering and you say timidly:
I don’t want it for the moment.
You still keep a door open, there’s still a string of hope. Not at the moment, maybe later 🤯
Now, you feel simultaneously a relief and regret all the time you wasted. The trainer can sense you’ve been playing games with him. Both of you are left disempowered by this unauthentic interaction.
You hurry up to get outta there as soon as possible. Awkward goodbyes. You even start avoiding passing in front of the gym for a while.
This situation, as you might have guessed, was real for me.
Do you know the Law of Reciprocity? It’s considered to be the most powerful law of human nature:
If you do something nice for me, I’ll do something nice for you.
I feel obligated to reciprocate.
We have the deep need to be even. Every time we receive something, it’s in our nature to want to return the favor, to restore the balance.
The good news is that just like with the fear of public speaking when your R-system gets all fired up, you can embrace your primal instincts and override the default reaction. Let me show you how exactly.
How could it have been different?
You do your training. You listen to the pitch of the trainer and understand the conditions. You still don’t want to sign. Then you just say plainly:
Thank you so much for the time you spend showing me around.
This is not for me and I don’t want to invest my time and money into it.
How do you think Mr. Salesman would respond?
He’ll feel your certainty and he’ll back off. No hard feelings – after all, he doesn’t want unmotivated customers either.
What if he doesn’t get it and keep pushing? He might come up with ‘special offers’. It’s an invitation for you to reconsider. Now the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is playing out. It’s a trap. Be firm.
You say your final, firm NO. No need for explanations, reasons, justifications. You leave the gym. You’ve gained a new life experience, you’ve made an informed decision about this specialized training, you’ve had a pleasant interaction with an attractive salesman/trainer. Cos’ Sales is an attractive dance, like tango. Salespeople are usually attractive – it’s part of the game.
The trainer is also satisfied. It’s his job to show prospects around, to pitch, to receive Noes, and Yeses. Although he didn’t get a Yes this time, he did his job, you were just not the right client. No hard feelings. Time to move on to the next potential customer.
It’s not on the Salesperson, it’s on ME
The unpleasant feeling is my responsibility. It’s not that salespeople are pushy, sleazy, manipulative. Even if I stumble upon a pushy salesperson it’s me on the receiving end. Who I show as in this situation is my responsibility.
If it’s my responsibility, then I can flip Sales around and make the unpleasant pleasant. Again, what do I choose Sales to be for me?
👉 Simple 👈
👉 Authentic 👈
👉 Empowering 👈
👉 Stimulating. 👈
Now, back to me offering my coaching services. I stay 100% behind the value of coaching, I am good at it, I am professionally trained, I have enough experience, why not put myself out there?
How much more attractive it would be if I showed myself authentically? What if I dropped the ‘baggage’ of Sales? What if I chose to see Sales as a fair exchange? As an uplifting, pleasant dance?
I got the skills to empower the client to transform their life. The client feels the urge for change and transformation. They wanna get going. Then come along. We’re going on a journey!
A Bonus idea
Here’s a practical exercise you can do many times a day to overcome your unpleasant feeling around Sales. Do you have sellers on the street where you live? Or people who campaign, or ask for donations for causes? You know, the ones that you carefully avoid from a distance cos’ you’re feeling uncomfortable saying No to.
Engage with the ‘sellers’ on the street. Even with the ones who ask for donations for causes. Even with the ones who just want to speak to you, to ask you to sign a petition, or to become aware of some monstrosity happening in the world. Your time and a peaceful walk are as equally valuable as money, if not manifolds more valuable.
Be fully true to yourself. Say No and leave the (sales)person deal with it.
Saying No to something means saying Yes to something else. Back to the ‘sellers’ on the street or in the park – I do choose to donate to the livelihood of tigers with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and support the refugee camps, but I don’t necessarily want to help the country Yemen. If you live in Berlin, you know what I mean.
Long story, short dear reader, the Sales baggage is dropped. I enter into Sales with much more enthusiasm and curiosity. Vamonos! Let’s go!
Looking forward to see you along the way!
This topic is important for me, so I also shared it with a friend of mine – a professional Salesman. Here’s what he had to say:
I love it. In sales, we say a No is as good as a Yes. There is nothing worse than a prospect stringing you along and wasting your time.
The salesperson’s job is easier if he asks questions if he understands Why you are going to the gym. What is it you are doing this for? It could be to look good at your sister’s wedding in 6 months. By understanding the real personal motivation then his pitch is far more powerful.
Same in coaching, what can coaching help your client achieve, what would it mean to them personally. Sales are often misunderstood, it’s not all about the pitch. For me, the most important element is the discovery, it’s the interaction before the pitch, the insightful questions as to why you would buy the product or service. Then the pitch is shaped by the discovery. Then closing techniques, objection handling, and options come into play 😊