The big buzz question right now amongst entrepreneurial circles is: should I be selling right now? It’s born of so many things, too… Fear of being insensitive. Anxiety of not making your own ends meet. Worry that people just aren’t buying anything nonessential right now. Discomfort from the possibility of being judged for sharing your offer in a traumatic time.
I’ve wrestled with it myself, too, because even though I feel secure in my business and have built something that I know is truly strong, I also have a team of 10 to continue supporting through this season of unknowns, and I don’t ever want to come off as insincere or thoughtless by pushing my offer to an audience who isn’t into it. Plus, when there’s no end in sight, of course it’s natural to begin worrying, and to wonder, “What if no one wants what I have to offer? What if this all comes crashing down?”
How to sell with grace:
Something tells me you’ve had the same questions swirling in your mind late at night as you navigate this new normal with as much confidence as you can muster. And after countless conversations with my team and my family, with other entrepreneurs and with students, here’s what I’ve come to… I DO think it is appropriate to sell right now. I think it’s necessary to sell right now. And just because your offer isn’t going to resonate or be a fit for everyone doesn’t mean you should stop sharing it.
(Also, news flash! Even before all of this, your offer didn’t resonate with everyone. That’s just a part of being a business owner. You attract the right people who need what you have and repel anyone who doesn’t. That is GOOD, and so now it’s our jobs as entrepreneurs to find those people who really need what we have, to nurture them and serve them, and to unapologetically yet graciously sell our stuff. Because people need it, and you’ve built a business on serving those people. Why would you stop now?)
When the climate changes and it gets blustery and cold outside (like the actual weather climate), we don’t just shut down our lives and stop doing or buying things. Now, maybe our spending habits become different (i.e., ordering dinner in more rather than bundling up to go out), and so as business owners, it’s our responsibility to examine the climate, see how our clients and customers are pivoting their behaviors, and serve them what they need AND want. How do we do that?
01. Shift your messaging.
Right now, I know people are less interested in starting a side hustle to make a million bucks or even six figures. If they’re digging into their resourcefulness to start or grow a business, it’s likely to pay their mortgage or support their family for the next six months.
That’s the climate, and so my responsibility as someone who can help them create smart systems around a new business is to meet them where they’re at. I don’t want to throw big numbers in their face, but I want to show them the possibility of what can happen if they learn processes and implement tools that make everything about growing a business easier.
What does your product or service do to add some lightness, brightness, or quality resources to your clientele’s lives in this season? What are they craving right now in this very moment? In what ways can you best support them through what you offer? I know that so many of us work for months perfecting our brand messaging and batch-working emails and social media and other content — and now you may very well have to put those plans on hold. Don’t scrap them, but place that stuff on the back-burner and put your head down creating content and fresh messaging that meets your people where they’re at, right now.
02. Practice serving, not selling.
I have talked and talked and talked about this for years, but now it’s become more imperative than ever… SERVE your people 80 percent of the time, and sell 20 percent. While I do think it’s appropriate to continue selling right now, it’s never appropriate — even when the world is fine and dandy — to ONLY sell.
I mean girlfriend, would you buy the product that only shows up in your inbox every month to say “BUY ME”? No, you want the company that’s checking in, offering encouragement, delivering value at no cost, sharing relatable stories, and then selling something that’s helpful or joyful or practical and that makes sense because you’ve built a foundation of trust with the brand behind the offer.
While people are still opening their wallets right now, they’re just not as quick to do so. And if you put yourself in your customers’ shoes and consider what would make them more inclined to take up your offer, the solution to this equation is to serve, serve, serve, serve, SELL, serve, serve, serve, serve.
You can also serve in ways that equally benefit your customer and you! Create an incredible resource that’s timely and that you can use as a freebie to grow your email list. Create more payment options for your product or service so that those who are now making less have a lower barrier to entry if they still want your offer. There are opportunities here to make things that are mutually beneficial, so dig into those.
A few ways we’ve done this:
- I created a KILLER work-from-home guide — like legitimately one of my favorite guides I’ve ever made — with tips to work from home with kids, my foolproof 5-step WFH process, easy efficiency hacks, and more. Instead of giving it away for nothing or using it as an email opt-in, I’m asking subscribers of my podcast to send a screenshot of their subscription and they’ll get the guide! If you want the guide, go ahead and send your screenshot in here!
- This is a way to give people something they need right now and also support growth with the podcast when people may not be tuning in as much without commutes, lunches at work, etc. So while focusing on podcast subscribers may not directly impact my bottom line, it does grow my reach over time which will help the business in the long run while serving a larger audience.
- We built out a Small Business Survival Guide — and it’s 10 pages chock-full of helpful information about how to keep your business healthy and fueled throughout a slower time. This one is also totally free, and totally meant to serve business owners who are worried or struggling through this season.
- I recorded a podcast episode all about the small business stimulus act: who’s eligible, how it works, steps for entrepreneurs to take to apply and get their money, etc. Frankly, I was confused about the bill and had questions, so I figured I wasn’t alone and got all my own burning questions answered to help my community of small biz folks!
- I also recently created more payment options for all of my courses. Instead of having to pay in full or in 4 payments, there’s now an option to pay in 12 monthly payments, which allowed some of my courses to be just $27 a month. I’ve NEVER done this before but it felt so needed. This is a way to create more accessibility in a time when funds may be more limited for many, and I’m able to serve them where they’re at while still offering my products to those who want or need them.
- In general, we’ve refocused all our content to revolve around service: we’ve published blog posts on how to care for your mental health, how to be more productive working from home, how to feel more in control during a scary time, and more related, helpful topics on the blog and podcast in coming weeks.
I hope you see these examples as inspiration for opportunities in your own business to get creative and be more flexible with how you serve and deliver your messaging. It doesn’t mean closing up shop until things get back to normal. Actually, it means the opposite. Get scrappy in order to show up in the lives of those who need your offer most. That intentionality will shine through in everything you do and sustain your business through this season and well into the future.