One of the most common things we hear from our community of online store owners is they want to sell more on their online store… but they don’t want to come across as “salesy”.

I think fundamentally people believe “sales” is a dirty word.

I get it. I used to think that too.

When you think of sales, what comes to mind:

  • An untrustworthy used-car salesman who’ll tell you anything to make the sale?
  • A pushy shop assistant who tells you your bum doesn’t look big in those jeans?
  • Even Rat in a Hat, the shop keeper from Banana in Pajama’s is a trickster!

It’s no wonder we don’t want to be seen as salesly. We don’t want to align ourselves with a used-car salesman, a dishonest shop assistant or Rat in a Hat.

But you don’t have to.

I’ve had to flip the way I think about sales.

Sales is NOT a dirty word

Sales are critical to a business and if you believe that sales are bad, you are going to hold yourself back from making sales… and business success.

Trying to avoid selling is a sure-fire way to not sell anything. 

Now, I believe that selling is simply the way you show people how to get from where they currently are to where they want to be. 

If your product or service is going to help someone truly get their desired outcome or result, then you need to sell it to them.

It is your responsibility to sell it to them.

You are doing them a disservice by not selling it to them.

Sales get a bad name when people are pushed into buying something they don’t want or need. And I agree, that’s bad. And gross. And just, no.

It’s your job to help customers make empowered purchases

As a consumer, I choose to make empowered purchases.

  • I buy my toilet paper from Who Gives A Crap.
  • I buy handwash from Thank You.
  • I buy Christmas presents from small family-owned businesses and those who align with my values (spoiler alert: girlfriends, you are all getting the Embrace scarf this year).

I’m not going to buy something I don’t want or need just because of the company’s values, however, it definitely is a deciding factor.

  • I need to buy toilet paper, so why wouldn’t I buy toilet paper that is good for the environment and those in need?
  • I need to buy handwash, so why wouldn’t I buy it from a social enterprise?
  • I need (or want) to buy Christmas presents, so why wouldn’t I buy something that supports a cause that aligns with my heart?

If a business is empowering people through ethical employment, or committed to no-waste or donating a portion of their sales to a cause then I want to know about that.

And I believe that consumers have a right to know where their money is going.

Tell it loud and tell it proud

If you are using your business as a vehicle for good, why not tell your potential customers about it?

We teach our students to highlight their brand values as well as their product features and benefits. We teach them to communicate all the reasons why someone should buy from them and not their competition.

As a brand, your actions are derived from your values then that’s part of your brand story.

People need to make a decision as to whether to purchase from you — or from the ocean of choices that is out there.

If a customer makes a decision to buy from someone else and you haven’t highlighted all the reasons why they should buy from you, is that going to benefit you or your customer?

Does selling make you feel yuk?

As a final word, I want to add this.

There is an opportunity, in every moment, to use what is erking us as a mirror to see what needs to be addressed internally.

If seeing other businesses being “salesly” makes you feel yuk, I bet, that self-promotion makes you feel equally uncomfortable.

Is this true?

If so, take a moment to think about what sales and marketing mean to you. Are you a self-promotion queen or are you holding yourself back? Nearly every one of our students faces the “tall-poppy” issue at some point. Their online store is finally doing amazing things and they are achieving the success they’ve always wanted, and yet, they don’t want to celebrate it. That’s a topic for another day… but, please, no more tall poppy syndrome.

Self-promotion and sales are a good thing!

Written by Megan Winter

Megan is an award-winning marketer and has worked with some of the fastest-growing eCommerce brands in the world.

Megan loves helping ethically-produced, heart-centred, soul-driven online store owners to make more income and achieve more impact.