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How to stop hard selling and start building real connections

It can be very easy to default to selling mode when you’re first starting out in your new business. You’re full of enthusiasm and want to get cracking making sales.  

But the concept of sales has changed over the past couple of decades, with consumers put off when the “sell” is obvious. An aggressive attempt to introduce your product or service to new or even existing customers is now more likely to have the opposite effect and deter them from using your brand altogether.  

So, what do you do to keep sales coming in? 

Firstly, do your homework. Listen to your potential markets; ask them questions, what are they passionate about, what problems are they facing, what is their buying process and how are they consuming content? 

Consumers have a lot of content to wade through in the modern marketplace, so understanding them and how best to connect with them will give you the upper hand in converting them into your customers.  

Next look at your network. Networking experts, NetKno, identifies that we often network with people from our own worlds and there can be segregation between industry, education and technology in this article about building a powerful network. They go on to explain that your network will naturally be more active in the world in which your business belongs but recommend growing a more diverse network to stimulate innovative ideas, expand your knowledge outside your immediate area of expertise, and to help you see the bigger picture of how your products and services affect those that are different to yourself.  

Jeni Smith, founder of NetKno, commented, “Building a diverse network isn’t just a nice to have, it can directly impact your businesses bottom line. There’s some fantastic research published in the Harvard Business Review showing just how much of an impact! Although we network to meet new clients and to raise our profiles, there’s so much more to it – networking isn’t just about sales, it’s about building real connections with other people, accessing knowledge and support, and stimulating exciting new ideas and opportunities.” 

If you need to grow and diversify your network, invest time in attending physical and online events in the areas you want to cultivate – and participate, don’t be a wall flower.   

Nurture your existing contacts with the aim of getting to know relevant connections of your connections; gracefully ask for contacts or places others recommend reaching new people and return the favour if / when you can.  

Dedicate time each day or week to grow your social network by finding and following those that fit your target personas and engage with them (don’t sell). Putting yourself on their radar without selling is more likely to lead to a mutual follow / engagement than if you just try to sell them something as a stranger. 

If you’re in the hard sell rut and don’t quite know what to say if you’re not selling, refer back to our first point of doing your homework and bring value to your connections. This could be making introductions, sharing interesting articles on topics relevant to them, or even showing appreciation or interest in what they’re sharing. Be nice and help people without expecting something in return – such a simple concept but it works; people are more likely to do business with people they like. In return, they will be more likely to return the favour and you’ll remain positive in their minds for when they’re ready to buy. 

To help maintain this relevancy, turn your hand at creating your own content. Write blogs on relevant topics (and share them), contribute to others content or host a webinar or presentation on your area of expertise. Educate on what you know, or where you see gaps, but with humility; don’t come across as a know-it-all. And avoid integrating a sales pitch into your content, as your audience will soon lose interest and switch off, thinking they’ve been duped into a sales event. Instead, try using real examples of how something has helped an individual, a method referred to as storytelling. 

You might wonder how you’re going to fit all of this in your every day. But consider the time you spend cold-calling, emailing prospects without getting a response, or marketing to an audience that doesn’t buy. By using your time developing relations instead, you cultivate a long-lasting network of connections warmed to you and your brand. 

If this sounds like the direction you want to take your new business but need a helping hand, you can apply for our next enrolment now, where you receive six months of free business support and guidance. In the meantime, grow your knowledge through the varied library of blogs we have. 



Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

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