Icky. It’s a word that makes me shudder.
I shudder because this juvenile term is being used by fully grown adults. Business owners. People who should by now know a little more professionalism and who should speak words a touch above my 7-year-old’s current lexicon.
Really, people. Icky?
But using a childish term when you’re 40 or so isn’t what most turns me off. What really makes me roll my eyes is that some people equate ‘icky’ to a crucial aspect of business success. An aspect so integral to business survival that doing anything less than embracing it leads to fast, hard disaster:
You see, if you’re in business, there’s really no room for ‘icky’ at all. In fact, if you start feeling ‘icky’ about an integral area of your business, you might as well just close up shop right now. Rip down your website. Turn away your customers. Because there’s just no hope.
What am I talking about? Sales and marketing, of course.
And there’s nothing ‘icky’ about it.
If you’re in business, you’re in it to sell.
This is absolutely the first tenet. The whole purpose of being in business is to sell services or products to people who need them, allowing you to make profits in the process.
You’re in business to make money. To earn a decent living. To bring home a salary or an income that feeds your family. You’re not in this for back-pats or accolades or warm fuzzies. Praise is nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
Without sales, your business hits a dead end.
“But Jaaaaammes, selling is just so… so sleazy… so icky!”
Please. No it’s not. There is absolutely nothing distasteful about telling potential customers that you have something good they might be interested in. There’s nothing disgusting about promoting your products or services if you believe that what you sell is worth money.
Here’s the real truth of the matter:
If you feel uncomfortable selling, you lack faith in what you sell.
I learned this lesson long ago, and now it’s time for you to learn it too: If you don’t 150% believe that what you have to offer is worth someone’s money, then you’re going to feel unsure, uncertain and under-confident.
You’ll have trouble selling. You’ll have trouble telling people to buy – even if they really want what you have. You’ll feel awkward saying, “This is a good thing. You should get it.” You’ll feel uncomfortable asking for money because deep down, you don’t think that what you have is worth it.
Think about that a minute: If you felt 150% confident that you had an amazing offer that people should snap up right now because the deal was that good… don’t you think you’d step up to the plate?
“This is the best damned popcorn you’ll ever taste – and I swear after one buttery-sweet mouthful of this luscious stuff, you’ll never want that other crappy, over-salted dry cardboard again. Go on, try it! Have some and see for yourself!”
That’s convincing. That’s persuasive. That confident attitude makes people believe that yeah, this popcorn does seem to be better. And sure, they’ll have a try.
People believe in your business because YOU believe in your business.
Here’s what most people do:
“Well… I think my popcorn is good… and I know it’s a bit expensive but it takes a long time to make… and maybe you won’t like it but that’s okay because I could give you your money back… if you’re not ready to try it maybe you could just test a bit of it with a smaller sample… does that sound okay?”
I don’t know about you, but the person who’s practically pushing the bag at me and telling me they have the best damned popcorn ever is the one who gets my vote.
And there’s nothing ‘icky’ about it.
Here’s another truth for you:
Selling doesn’t equal unethical, evil intentions.
People who walk around saying sales and marketing are ‘icky’ demonstrate an ignorance of a pretty basic concept. It goes like this:
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
What that really means is that objects, actions and tools aren’t good or evil. They just are. It’s what you do with them and how you use them that makes all the difference.
Allow me to demonstrate:
A baseball bat is a piece of sports equipment. You can use it to knock a ball out of the park or beat someone senseless. It’s still just a simple baseball bat at the end of the day. It had no idea what it was doing.
A banana is a fruit. You can eat it for breakfast and fuel your body, or you can whack your sister with it until her nose bleeds. It’s still just an innocent banana, going about its pureed business.
A sales strategy is a set of actions meant to persuade people to buy. You can use it to tell people that you’re having a sale, or you can scam them into buying something they didn’t want or need. The strategy isn’t evil or unethical. It’s just a strategy.
It’s all up to you, what you choose to do, how you choose to do it and the intention you have when you do it that determines everything.
A banana doesn’t have intention. The baseball bat doesn’t have intention. Strategies don’t have intentions.
People have intentions, both good and bad.
All this means that sales and marketing strategies aren’t ‘icky’. They aren’t evil actions you should avoid at all costs. They aren’t bad behaviors you should shun.
They just are. It’s the intention you use them with that changes the game.
And here’s the biggest truth of all:
You can’t go wrong if you operate with integrity.
Integrity is the saving grace of people who feel ‘icky’ about selling. Integrity is what helps good people do good business in good ways that are right, just and fair.
Integrity means sticking to moral and ethical principles. And the strongest marketing and sales tactics tell you the truth. They’re honest. They’re open. There aren’t any lies or smoke and mirrors or false claims or sneaky ulterior motives.
You don’t have to lie. You don’t have to hide the truth. You don’t have to use yellow highlighter and exclamation marks.
You do have to embrace sales and marketing if you want to succeed.
If you want to win at this whole game of business, you can’t downplay the importance of selling with integrity.
You need to believe in yourself and in your business. You need to believe that what you offer is great. You need to believe that people should get in on it because it’s helpful to them in some way.
And you need to believe that it’s perfectly FINE to tell people about it.
Using a few sales and marketing strategies may feel strange at first, especially if you’ve been vehemently opposed to them up to now, but think about it as a blind date.
Get to know the strategies (like you get to know your blind date). Familiarize yourself with the tactics (like asking your date for more persona details). Look for the good and the positive (every person has them). Figure out how you fit together (so you can be friends).
You might even fall in love.
But if you can’t, if you won’t, if your mind is closed tight… Well, pack up your shingle. Business is over.
This post, though, is not! Tell me what you think about sales and marketing. (Also let me know if you promise never to say ‘icky’ again, because it would really make me happy to hear that.) Do you hate sales strategies? Have you embraced marketing? What are your feelings? I want to know.