3 rules for selling in the new economy

January 10, 2011

– Lisa Nicole Bell is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of lifestyle consultancy firm Inspired Life Media Group. This article originally appeared on Under30CEO. The views expressed are her own. —

Every entrepreneur knows that the key to a thriving business is sales. Without it, cash flow dries up, checks turn to rubber, and heads roll. With it, few things are impossible. The challenge for most entrepreneurs is understanding how to sell what they offer.

Throughout the years, the sales gurus of our parents’ generation have offered their conventional wisdom about “building rapport” and “explaining the features”. In the new economy, this advice just doesn’t cut it anymore.

The new wave of Generation X and Y buyers wants more. As far as we’re concerned, the earth revolves around us – we want everything in our own size, color, design, and layout complete with our photos, our favorite team, and our iPod picks playing in the background. With this “first me, then me” mentality, the science of selling has changed.

Check out these 3 simple rules for selling in the new economy:

Rule #1: It’s not about you – it’s always about them.

How narcissistic we Gen Y entrepreneurs can be at times! We get our degrees and have the epiphany that we’re more focused and awesome than most other 20-somethings. We start our businesses and offer our glorious services, but when sales lag, we’re confused. How could anyone not want what we have? It’s not about you. It’s all about your clients. Your average prospect sees 3,000 advertisements and sales messages each day – that’s more than 20,000 a week! If you’re not focused on your client – what they need, what they want, what their buying triggers are – you’ll find yourself lost in a sea of commercials, tweets, posts, blogs, and banners. You must communicate with a client-centric attitude. What does your client need? What do they really want right now? What are their thoughts about you and your competitors? Learning to see everything through the eyes of your current and future clients will put you head and shoulders above the competition and help you stay relevant, even in a tough economy.

Rule #2: No one really cares what you do.

Seriously. I know you think that the fact that your product has more than five settings or the fact that you can customize a welcome page for Facebook is something special, but no one cares. Your clients are not concerned about what you do – they want to know why you do it and what results you create. The outcomes you create are the true measure of value in the new economy so translate what you do into how you help. When people understand your passion and see the purpose and value in what you offer, selling becomes effortless. The conversion process will go from being painful and awkward to being simple and fun. If you’re great at what you do, you have to translate that to language that your prospects understand. After all, people buy outcomes, not actions.

Rule #3: Serve, don’t sell.

If selling feels yucky, slimy, or any other elementary school word for unpleasant, then you’re probably doing it wrong. Sales can be exhilarating and the process of selling can offer tremendous insight into the direction your business should be going. When you shift your paradigm around selling from trying to get to trying to give, you’re freed up to sell from a space of helping your client solve a problem rather than getting enough money to pay your assistant. You started your business for good reason, and the more you focus on impacting more people in a meaningful way with what you offer, the easier the sales conversations become. Be a consultant instead of a salesperson. Educate your prospects, and they’ll love you and stay with you.

Selling, according to personal development pioneer Earl Nightingale, is the highest paid profession in the world. And since we’re all selling something in some form, mastering the art and science of sales can catapult you and your business to new heights of success. Abide by the rules and savor the success.

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