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If all you want to do is sell, then stay away from me.

SalesI don’t consider sales to be a dirty word, however I value relationships, honesty and trust and expect that in return when it comes to selling. Seriously, I know you run a business – but that does not mean you need to push your sales on me or cold call me unexpectedly.

Especially if you don’t know me, especially if you don’t bother researching me (gosh, at least get my name right), especially if you don’t understand my business needs – and especially not if you ask a question in a business forum – just to get people to comment, so you can personally message them to sell your services.

“This is not how you sell. Selling is based on trust, based on relationships and based on mutual benefit.”

Pushing your product or service onto someone without understanding if, or why, they would need you is bad practice. Not to mention disrespectful.

You see, let me explain. Most people think that the more people they contact the higher their “sales hit rate” will be. Which I guess is just normal mentality. And whilst this might be true in some respects, have you also thought about the impact you are having on the people who don’t wish for you to contact them? How are you making them feel? How do you think they will “feel” about your business by being contacted in an unsolicited way? That negativity is now attached to your brand and your business and the flow on effect could be huge (as this post proves).

Earlier this week was a great example. In one of the five million business groups that I follow on Facebook (ok – slight exaggeration – but often it truly feels like that many), a business owner put a call out saying “Does anyone still write hand written cards at Christmas for their clients?”

“Being passionate about my clients and being one of the “old school few” who send them a personalised hand written card every single year, this totally resonated with me – so I responded saying exactly this.”

What I didn’t then expect was for this person to instantly send me a friend request on Facebook. This was a person who I didn’t know, have never met, have never heard of her name and I had no idea what her business was.

So naturally I “Facebook stalked” her (don’t pretend you don’t do it to others – I know you do) and found out that she ran a business involving Send Out Cards. So ultimately her Facebook post was fishing to add people to her database without finding out anything about them. She didn’t really care about my answer, she just wanted people to contact.

Sure enough, 5 minutes later (after I refused the friend request), I receive a Facebook direct message, asking if I would be interested in using a system that sends out cards with my signature uploaded and preprinted onto them.

“Hello – did you not even read my post that I patiently wrote on your Facebook comment. I take pride in handwriting cards to my customers – call me old school but this shit matters to me.”

So, not only did you try to sell your products to me in a sneaky behind the scenes way, I wasn’t even your target market. I have nothing against Send Out Cards (as such) – but I have received them from so called trusted suppliers in the past and they haven’t even taken the time to write my name correctly, the card was not personalised in any way (except for the incorrect spelling of my name) and basically I saw it as a waste of money as it did not make me feel valued one little bit.

Yes, it is a cheap and easy option for us time poor entrepreneurs – I get why Send Out Cards exists. But the time invested by me, to handwrite an individual note each year to my clients who I value for supporting and growing my business, far outweighs the cost involved.

Sure my handwriting is not the best, but those little notes specifically thanking my clients means so much more than a cheap, electronically mass produced card. So before you start your sales pitch, make sure you are directing your pitch to your target market, and do so in an honest and upfront manner. Sneaky sales tactics are not welcome in my world.