Three crucial sales lessons I learned while buying stuff

Cash register

2015 is more than halfway over, and I realize that my New Year’s Resolution is WAY too hard.

And no, I didn’t resolve to lose weight (good thing, because I haven’t).

And I didn’t resolve to quit smoking (I quit years and years ago).

This year I resolved to SELL SOMETHING every day. The resolution was my way of getting elbow deep in sales, so that I could become an even better copywriter.

But the funny thing is that over the past seven months, most of my selling insights came while I was the customer. Here are a few.

1. Don’t give away what you sell

I was at a gas station in Colorado, filling up and buying a few things for our picnic lunch.

I had an armload of paper plates, cups and napkins, and was now looking for the matches. I asked the woman behind the register where I could find some matches, and she said, “I have some freebies, a few lighters and a box of matches.”

Nobody has ever offered me FREE matches. I accepted them.

She gave me the matches, but then completely ignored me and rang up the guy behind me! She was about to move on to the next customer when I said, “Excuse me, I’m in line here.”

She said, “Oh… sorry. I’m just so sick of people always wanting something for free…. I didn’t realize that you were buying something.”

I pointed out that I was buying over $50 worth of stuff and it was HER IDEA for me to have free matches. Not mine.

She totally sabotaged her sale, all the while griping about the cheapskates who want free stuff. Plus she insulted me by treating me like a non-customer.

If you want someone to buy your lighters, don’t mention that you have a pile of free matches stashed behind the counter.

2. Make People Feel Good about Themselves

Confession time: I’m trying to get in shape… maybe lose 20-25 pounds.

I spoke with two people in the fitness industry. One of them looked me up and down and declared that I need to lose 20-25 pounds. The other one told me that I looked great.

Who do you think I’ll do business with?

Even though the first person was “right” and she probably thought that she was “telling it like it is”, she made me feel terrible. The other person’s compliment reminded me that I can feel good about myself right NOW. Which is an amazing feeling when your goal weight seems so out of reach.

No matter what you sell, start by making people feel good and being the type of person that people want to be around.

2. Don’t Give Up on the Sale

I wanted to buy a king sized mattress very very badly.

The guy who showed me them did a perfect job of showing me the mattresses in such a way that I would feel like an idiot for not buying the most expensive mattress they had. I was ready to buy it but my husband wasn’t.

Just because someone doesn’t buy from you right away doesn’t mean that they don’t want to. Sometimes the decision takes a little longer. Especially if you’re selling something expensive or if the decision needs to be made by more than one person.

The key is to create marketing materials that address every step along the decision making process. When people have a lot of questions and need information to make a decision, a single sales pitch may not be enough.

If you need to flesh out your selling process, pay attention to the questions that people ask. At what point to customers typically say NO? Do they change their mind because they need more information?

Also, what triggers people to say YES. When it comes to the mattress, I could have gotten swept up in buying it as a surprise gift. Sure, it’s irrational and completely emotional, but it’s a reason to buy that I cannot resist.

Turning your focus on your customer and what they consider buying your product will bring you closer to the sale. If you’re not sure why they buy, ask.