Being Self Employed: Does your
way of selling help you with building trust with customers?
by Molly Gordon, MCC
Does being self employed have
to be lonely? Wouldn't it be great if self employment meant enjoying
the support of a committed community? Well, it doesn't have to be a pipe
dream. But to leave isolation and loneliness behind, you may have to
rethink your position on selling to your customers because it can actually
help you build trust with your customers.
What Makes a Community?
Community begins with shared ownership of things physical or metaphysical
or both. In order for a community to grow up around your business,
your customers need to share ownership with you and with each other.
Inviting people into the community isn't hard. One time-honored method
is to give something away. This makes it safe for someone to approach
your business and evaluate your offer. If it is not a fit, the prospect
can walk away with no harm done. (Remember, we're talking about a community
of just-right customers.)
If your give-away is valuable to her, your prospect may hang around.
If you keep giving away valuable information, eventually she becomes
part of your community. Right?
How "Free" Gets in the Way
Community begins with shared ownership, and if all you offer is free
information, how can your prospects take ownership?
They can't. The only way for customers to take ownership is to buy something
from you. That means you have to sell something to them.
Until you ask your prospective customer or client to buy, you haven't
given them a way to invest -- let alone to participate -- in a community
of shared interests. No investment, no return on investment.
That's not just semantics. Sure, people can benefit from reading a free
newsletter for years without buying a thing. But until you ask for investment,
you may have admirers, but you won't have community.
The Trust Factor
There's a direct relationship between selling to your customers and gaining
their trust. That's because authentic trust is the result of commitments
that are made, tested, and kept. What's more, there has to be some
risk involved. Without risk, the only kind of trust available to your
customers can have is naïve trust, the half-blind hope that since
you haven't betrayed them so far, you won't betray them in the future.
The kind of trust that builds long term relationships and communities
grows as individuals exchange commitments while remaining aware of the
risks entailed. Will the other party come through? Can you live up to
your part of the bargain? And how do you manage when something unexpected
Selling Builds Trust
The way to build trust with your just-right customers is to ask them
to take just such a risk. Offer them something you believe to be of
value, and ask them to pay it. Then live up to your end of the bargain.
Does the idea of coming right out and selling to your customers give
you the heebie-jeebies? It did me. I'm fine with marketing, but selling?
For eight of the nine years that I've been writing my newsletter,
the content was more than 90% editorial. Until this year, there were
less than a handful of times that I sent an email to my list that wasn't
focused on delivering content.
As I began to send emails to promote (and sell) the Authentic Wealth
Tele-retreat, I got some pushback. Most of it came from friends, who
care a great deal for me and had my best interests at heart. But they
were not and are not my just-right clients, and they didn't and don't
know anything about a business like mine.
Until I decided to sell to my list,
life here at Shaboom was part dream, part nightmare, a rollercoaster
of excitement and depletion. My energy would go up when my
subscribers praised me and down when you
didn't. I lived in fear of pissing my readers off.
That's no way to build a long-term relationship, let alone a thriving
When you avoid selling you keep customers at arms length, turning them
into strangers. I'm here to tell you, neither you nor your business can
survive by relying on the kindness of strangers. (And why should strangers
take care of you, anyway?)
Enough. It's the upside to this story that I am itching to share, so
here's the good news. When you sell to your customers, everything changes.
How Selling Builds Community
When you sell and a customer buys, the whole world changes. Does the
customer love what they bought? Wonderful! Find out how else you can
help, and sell them something else. Not to milk them, not to take advantage
of them, but to help. (That is why you're in business, isn't it?)
Is your customer dissatisfied? Excellent! Find out why. Ask how you
can improve the product or service, and, provided that the customer fits
your business "just right," they'll tell you exactly what you
need to do to make them happy and to attract more people just like them.
More customers mean more people taking ownership, and that is the basis
for a community. Yes, there's more to growing the community than this,
but you won't have one to grow until you start selling.
The Real Reason Nice People Don't Sell
Do you know why nice people like you and me resist selling? It's simple:
we would rather be liked than have profitable businesses. Another way
of saying that is that we'd rather be liked than do what it takes to
deliver value to the people we can help.
Okay, you may be more evolved than I am. But consider these classic
reasons for not stepping selling to customers.
You don't want to seem pushy. (You want to be liked.)
You are afraid your work isn't good enough. (You are afraid a customer
might be disappointed and then they wouldn't like you.)
You can't stand rejection. (What is rejection except the belief that
the person who is saying "no" doesn't like you?)
If you have read this far, odds are very high that you, like me, place
a very high value on being liked. There is nothing wrong with that. But
are you willing to let the desire to be liked prevent people from benefiting
from your work? Are you willing to place being liked ahead of creating
revenue streams that will energize your business and help you generate
quality products and services on an ongoing basis?
Smile. Your Customers Love You.
Here's the part that will make you smile big time. Imagine having plenty
of bandwidth to build trust with your customers
and take care of them.
Imagine being comfortable in your own skin, satisfied to be doing your
best for your just right customers. (Goodbye, perfectionism!) Imagine
looking forward to feedback, both positive and negative, from customers
that are part of a growing community.
That's what selling can do.
I hope I've whetted your appetite for building relationships,
trust, and community by selling your products and services. I am here
to help self employed people who have
a lot to give and a lot to learn about how to do just that.
Being self employed doesn't have to be lonely!
* * *
more about Authentic Promotion - a comprehensive small
business marketing resource that turns marketing and self promotion into
a path of increasing self-awareness, authenticity, and right livelihood.
In particular, the strategies of maintaining your work life balance you
learn to apply will build the solid foundation for your authentic prosperity
as an entrepreneur.
* * *
Contact Master Certified Coach
Molly Gordon at:
Shaboom Inc. Life could be a dream…
PO Box 195
Suquamish, WA 98392-0195
As a business coach and small
business marketing consultant, Molly Gordon, MCC, is available in Greater
Seattle Area and internationally