Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

…there, I said it! I’ve now revealed one of my deep-seated fears.

Are you a sales-phobic too? If so, you want to keep reading because I’m going to tell you exactly how I out-wit my sales-phobia to make good sales despite my fear.

1. Reframe – it’s about relationship building

Jo James of AmberLife taught me this (check out her weekly email: Make Your Mondays Matter).

Sales are scary because we have the wrong idea about them. Good sales doesn’t mean being pushy or uncaring – good sales means developing a positive relationship with your potential purchaser, and being around to help them out.

When they want to buy, or have a need for your product/service, you will be in their mind as the person to go to. They are also more likely to refer you to others as well.

Yes, this can be a longer-term tactic than aggressive cold-calling, but it’s a more pleasant one for you too!

2. Sell in stages to prevent panic

If the very idea of selling makes you come out in a rash and feel a bit light-headed, then you need to take a step back and look at your sales process as a series of small ‘sells’.

What that means is that you sell your potential purchaser in stages, and the first stages may not include money at all! (doesn’t that sound nice?).

For example:

Instead of going to your next networking event with the idea that you want to sell your product/service to the people that you meet there, think about the first stage in building a relationship with them. You want to sell them on you as a person first. So, your initial objective is to start a conversation, and swap cards. That’s one little ‘sell’. Then you want to sell them on keeping in touch via social media or your newsletter. That’s sell number two. And so on…

Soon, you’ll be up to actually talking products and prices , but it won’t have been so scary getting there.

3. Avoid discounting with a lower-priced offer

Do you get asked for discounts? Do you feel obliged to give them? Yeah, me too – until I figured out a way around this.

My answer was to have two different products or services that I could present at one time: my ‘main’ more pricey product, and my ‘entry level’, lower priced product.

So, what would happen is that when my potential purchaser says ‘could you do me a discount?’, the answer is ‘well, if this is too costly for you, have a look at this instead’ (and then I’d tell them about my entry level product.

This took the pressure off me, and allowed my potential purchaser to make their own choice. If they really truly wanted the more expensive option, they would decide to spend the money.

4. Follow up, follow up, follow up – in a nice way

A tiny, tiny, TINY proportion of sales are made on the first contact with a purchaser (about 3%). In fact it’s often the 5th, 6th, or 7th contact when a person will buy.

This means you really need to follow up with people.

Contrary to popular belief, following up does not mean continually calling someone until they give up and buy your stuff in order to make you go away. What it actually means is a number of ‘touches’, which can be in different forms.

For example, you could use this as your follow up process from an in-person meeting:

  • Send a ‘nice to meet you’ email after meeting up at a networking event.
  • Make an arrangement to speak on the phone and see what you have in common.
  • Ask them if they’d like to be on your mailing list (give them a good reason why).
  • They get your newsletter (I recommend using Constant Contact).
  • You send them a useful link or article that you think they’ll appreciate.
  • Invite them to an event that you’re planning to attend.
  • Help them solve a problem (potentially with your product/service!). 

5. Give things away – in the right way

A lot of people I speak to are afraid of giving away their knowledge, because they feel that this will mean that their target clients won’t pay them for their skills if they have already been told how to do it.

I have some news for you: people who want to DIY their whole business will never buy your stuff, so you have nothing to lose by sharing your top tips with them. However, people who would pay you for your work, don’t want to do everything themselves anyway, so they have more confidence in you and what you do, and are more likely to buy.

The secret to giving things away though is to give away little bite-sized pieces of information, in a way that doesn’t take you too much time. Don’t get stuck in giving away lots of consultancy or products, that’s not the best use of your time or money.

So those are my top 5 tips on getting over sales-phobia – what are yours? I’d love to find out in the comments below.