The Softer Side of Sales: Building Relationships

Post by Lamisha Serf for the Kindness in Business series.

handmade print by Lori Portka on Etsy

I’ll be the first person to admit that the pushy, sleazy, used car salesman tactics make me cringe. Smooth-talking solicitors knocking on my door to sell me something I likely don’t need and telemarketers interrupting my family dinner to tell me about their latest products make my skin crawl. It’s not so much that I can’t say no to these people, it’s the fact that they don’t take no for an answer.

I know this is the way they are trained, with a response for every rebuttal and reason that I give for why I don’t want or need what they are selling. The truth is it is less about what they are selling and more about how they are selling it. And as much as I despise their methods and the discomfort that comes with hearing their sales pitch, I unfortunately found myself being a bit pushy while promoting a new program I was launching a few weeks ago.

I was so excited about the launch of my new program that I wanted to share the excitement with a group of women who have been a huge part of my growth this year. I also had a hunch that some of these very women could greatly benefit from what I had to offer, but instead of sharing from my heart, somehow my post came off as salesy, uncomfortable, and (dare I say) a bit brash. A dear friend in the group brought it to my attention (thank goodness) which ultimately led me to delete the post and spend some time reflecting on the softer side of sales.

Now I know that sales, marketing, and networking are all part of building a successful business, but if you are like me (a sometimes sappy, sensitive, and heart-centered entrepreneur) then you might find it a bit challenging to find the right balance of selling yourself while remaining humble and centered in your purpose.

To be honest I am still working on the right formula for myself, but one thing is becoming more and more clear to me.

The softer side of sales is really about building relationships and trust with your tribe.

It’s not necessarily about how many people you have on your mailing list or how many followers you have on social media. It’s more about the connection, communication, and care you share with your tribe. The people that invest in what you have to offer are ultimately going to be the people that resonate with your vibration and vision. They are going to be attracted to your heart-centered passion and purpose and if you are clubbing them over the head with your latest product and how it can help them, they are likely going to run in the opposite direction. (I know I would.)

Many business experts discuss the importance of providing valuable information to your tribe before you ever ask them to buy anything and some even suggest a specific formula regarding the ratio of giving/asking, which is great. However, I am finding that the best way for me to engage my tribe and not come off as sleazy in my sales is by focusing on connecting from my heart and being of service. And I am not talking about giving everything away for free either.

I’m talking about:

  • Providing helpful resources to my community such as books, articles, and quotes that have inspired me.
  • Engaging in conversations on Facebook or Twitter and offering my insight from the heart not from a ‘marketing’ standpoint.
  • Allowing my personality to shine through in my daily interactions with my tribe.
  • Understanding that the people in my community are just that, people, (and treating them that way) not another sales number.
  • I’m also a big fan of giving gifts to my tribe as a thank you in the form of giveaways, etc.

Now, I don’t pretend to have this marketing and sales thing completely figured out, but I am willing to experiment in order to find what works best for me and I encourage you to do the same. What I am sure of is that building relationships and trust with your tribe is one of the most important things you can do for your business. And just to be sure I have learned that lesson, the Universe quickly provided me with a personal one-on-one experience of an in your face sales pitch. (You know for good measure.)

Just the other day I had a friend request from a fellow entrepreneur who I recognized from a networking group I am in on Facebook. Upon approving her request she immediately sent me a “nice to meet you” message that was quickly followed by a sales pitch for me to work with her on monetizing my blog. In that moment, I became a potential sale for her and I could feel it. Without getting to know me, my business or my needs, she quickly determined it was a good time to ‘pitch’ to me. To be honest it was all quite uncomfortable and needless to say, I likely won’t be doing business with her in the future.

Thanks to this clear illustration of what not to do and my own personal marketing snafu, I now fully understand that the softer side of sales starts with building lasting, trustworthy relationships with your tribe and communicating from the heart.

As for the double lesson from the Universe: Well played, Universe. Well played.

Lamisha Serf is a life coach, wife, and mama of one whose passion is to help women identify and live the life of their dreams. With her unique, inspiration-driven coaching philosophy, she helps clients get out of their minds and into their hearts as they find creative and inspired ways to overcome challenges and live the life they once dreamt.
Connect with her Online, on Facebook, or Twitter.

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