The four e’s of selling without selling your soul

Imagine this: your brand is out there for real. Your website is up and looking mighty fine. People are noticing you and liking what they see. You could say the dating game is going well.

In fact, you’ve met someone special. You’re so happy to have found each other – you were starting to believe it would never happen. You don’t want to mess up this beautiful relationship you have going… but something is bothering you.

You both know that the S-word is on the agenda. That dirty S-word creeps into your mind every time you make eye contact. You are fantasizing about having your first S-word experience with them all the time, in private, but you never raise it in public (well, not without apologizing).

What if you get rejected? What if they slap you down? What if they tell you, ‘I thought you were better than that?’

Okay. This isn’t the nineteenth century, so let’s put it out there. At the end of the day you’re going to have to stop just flirting, look them straight in the eye and… sell.

Oh yes, I said the S-word! Sales.

In our culture we think of sales very much like the Victorians thought about sex: ie pretty often, but never spoken about in polite society.

Thinking that sales just isn’t your thing? Trust me, you are not alone. I asked a few free range fledglings their views on sales and here is a selection of the results:

“Maybe it’s a confidence thing but I don’t want to come across as pushy.”

“I want to make money but not if it means selling my soul.”

“Personally, I hate getting cold calls about products/services I don’t want, so I’m really uneasy about doing it myself.”

“Sales? It’s just not me.”

You know what feeling uncomfortable with pushy sales means? It means you don’t suck. Congratulations.

I honestly don’t know anyone who loves cold calling and pushing crap on to other people! If I had to do that type of sales I don’t think I’d be my own boss at all. However, that’s not the only way to do sales.

Instead of selling your soul, try selling from your soul. Like this.

The four e’s of selling without selling your soul

Guidelines for every Free Range Human to live and work by:

1. Enthusiasm

Why are you doing this again? Oh yeah, it’s because you love it! You are excited about working with these people; you believe in the message. You can’t wait to get started!

How about communicating that rather than trying to ‘convince’ someone?

If you find your enthusiasm for your subject mysteriously shuts down when you move into ‘doing sales’, consider how you would describe this were it someone else’s product you were recommending to a friend who really needed it. Would you want to grab them by the shoulders and say ‘do it man, do it for you!’? Capture that enthusiasm, that genuine care, and use this at the core of what you communicate.

When you truly believe in and love what you do, it doesn’t feel like selling. It’s sharing your enthusiasm and passion for what you’re offering.

2. Engagement

Forget the idea of sales being those 1980s red-tie boys BS-ing their way to a commission. Free Range Humans do it with love. To do that, you need to get to know your niche, understand them, and above all, focus on helping them. Get in the habit of thinking from their perspective.

On a fresh sheet of paper, identify 5–10 benefits your client will get from taking you up on your offer. I don’t mean the obvious features, for example ‘a blue box with a ribbon’ or ‘three osteopathy sessions’. I mean what is the outcome? For example, ‘relief at having got a winning gift for their partner (with little effort)’ or ‘no more lower back pain’.

Think of your benefits now: will your client get more energy? Get more done? Feel more confident? Have a garden that makes people say Wow?

HINT: list your benefits in the language your people might use when talking about this outcome to a friend. This lets you engage more closely with how they actually think and feel.

3. Equanimity

Equanimity: self-assurance and groundedness; or, not being pushy and desperate.

If you’re coming from a position of thinking you might miss out, that people are out to steal your ideas, and that others in your field are competitors (rather than potential collaborators and friends) then this will come across in a whiff of desperation. When you look desperate, empty-restaurant syndrome kicks in, and people sidle away. End result: people don’t buy what you have to offer.

Bottom line: you have to trust in yourself and your potential before others can trust in you. That’s when you stop copying others in your field and start listening to yourself. That’s when people buy from you readily.

4. Ethics

Ethics is really simple: treat others as you expect to be treated. That’s what being a decent person is about.

That’s the way I try to operate, from my personal ethics. That means: I don’t take people on my higher-end courses if they have credit card debt. On any programme where there are applications, I will turn down more people than I take on. I tend to give away more on my courses than people can do in one go, because I’d rather over deliver than hold back.

That’s my version of ethics – some people would go further and think that my version is too money-oriented. Others would think my ethics are way too touchy-feely and not money-oriented enough. That’s fine. We each come to our own balance based on our own values.

So I’m not going to tell you how to behave. But I will ask you to consider it yourself, get clear on your values, and your benchmark so that you won’t be rocked at the last-minute by thinking: ‘Is this okay, can I say that?’

Free Range ethics comes from the premise that you only sell something that you believe is good. Every moment you hold back is a moment that someone who needs your product, service or ideas is missing out on getting what they need.

When you waver on selling, ask yourself am I holding back out of genuine ethics… or are people missing out because of my own insecurities about being too forward?

That’s the big question.

This is an extract from Marianne Cantwell’s brand new book Be A Free Range Human (Kogan Page, 2013). For more on how to ditch the old rules, create a remarkable (totally you) business and a lifestyle you love (on your terms) get your free chapter here:


Marianne Cantwell

Marianne Cantwell runs Free Range Humans. She helps women create and tweak their business to fit their personality and lifestyle, while growing their profits. A self confessed geek on both marketing and happiness, Marianne is combining these two usually very different topics into a book about free range businesses, (to be published in 2012). For more tips on breaking the rules and making your business work for you (not the other way around), subscribe to her blog and Friday ‘love letter’ at (and follow her on Twitter @freerangehumans)

Be the change that you want to see. Step into your leadership.


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