How can you sell your products and services to both customers and sponsors without feeling gross? Learn about the importance of consensual selling.
IE 335: How to Sell without Feeling Gross with Melanie Childers
Today we’re going to be talking about how to sell without feeling Gross with Melanie Childers. I want to make sure that you are able to redirect your brains around the idea that you don’t have to be selling if you only have a personal service.
We talk about one-on-one and what a discovery call can sound like, but we also are giving you specifics on how you can pitch yourself to sponsors.
What does this look like if you are potentially trying to sell affiliate links as part of what you do? I want you to think that this is only meant for those that have their own personal product or service. This is meant for them and they are going to benefit from it.
But if you are still doing sponsorships and affiliates, this is going to be a conversation that you’re going to want to listen to. We talk about questions you can ask that brand to continue to pull them in and walk you along of how that relationship can benefit both of you.
I was connected to you in a summit together or a bundle through Faith Mariah. I loved your aura and the way that you talked about selling, because I know that it makes a lot of people feel gross.
Before we jump into that topic, can you just introduce yourself and your business to my audience for those that don’t know you?
I am Melanie Childers. I am a business coach for feminist entrepreneurs. I teach marketing, selling, copy, and being a confident CEO.
I call it the confident, bad bitch, rockstar, CEO that you were born to be.
We just have so much fun building businesses without hustle and anxiety. We create businesses that we love that also change the world for the better.
What is consensual selling?
I love that term that you use. I’ve noticed the copy on your website where you talked a little bit about that.
It’s really important to talk about why selling feels gross. So many women and those socialized as women entrepreneurs tend to shy away from selling.
It’s because we’ve been taught to sell by, frankly, toxic white dude-bros who have created the whole paradigm of how you sell. It always includes manipulation, pushing on pain points, lying, convincing, or talking people into something.
You can’t have a business without selling.
When we go into that, we think selling equals convincing. The mental shift that we have to make is that it is just one way that we’ve been taught how to sell. It’s not even the most successful or effective way to sell.
Selling is not convincing people.
Selling is helping them get what they already want, which is just a desire that they have.
The concept of consensual selling is really being in partnership and relationship with the person that you are on a sales call with, and even in your marketing, in order to help them get what they already want.
It just comes from collaborating with the dream that they have, the desire that they want, and being in service to that desire at the highest level.
Consent just means asking questions. Is this the step that you want to take next? It really can be that simple. It does not have to be complicated.
Do you want to take the next step with me? That’s consent.
When you talk about selling, it’s the manipulation part of it that we often hear about. We are twisting the words or twisting their feelings to make them think that that’s exactly what they want.
But when we’re talking about it here, you focus more on the problem; helping them walk them through that journey.
That’s what the content that we are putting out there is normally based upon. Why not keep it that way on a sales call?
How do you successfully consensually sell?
Is there something that we need to do in order for it to work?
Just coming at it from the “selling is helping” mindset is really helpful. Thinking through the fact that we’ve created a relationship through engaging online or through marketing, selling is just taking that relationship to the next step.
If you think about it like a relationship, I want to take that next step with you. Do you want to take that next step with me? Is it simply asking “Are you in? Do you want this as well?”
Then, respecting the yes or the no. If it’s a no, back off.
Or ask questions like “Is it really “hell no! I do not want this.”
Or is it a no coming from a place of fear, a place of lack of money, or “I’m not sure I’ll do the work.”?
You can start to investigate what’s under the no, but you have to ask first “Is this a no? You truly don’t want to do this work. You don’t want the thing that you signed up to be on this call for?”
Is it a no coming from another place and they need to investigate that with me? Asking that question is so important because so many people get to the “no” and either stop or get to the “no” and then start to accidentally unconsciously convince.
We can just pause there and ask the question if this is truly a “no” because they don’t want that anymore, or is this a “no” because there’s something else happening?
Do they want to investigate that with me? That is to me, the key that unlocks.
People allow us to investigate with them and to be really, really curious, about their deepest desires. Then, they can start to figure out how they problem solve.
How do I get resourceful to get the thing that I said I wanted? To get them to that point, they had to be attracted to something to find you.
There’s only so much that we can offer through a blog post, an Instagram reel, or however it is that we’ve attracted them to us.
The next step of a paid product or paid service is going to be that higher level. Let me hold your hand a bit more to help you and show you down the path of where you’re trying to go to get that problem solved.
That’s often the piece that gets missed. We think the content we put out all the time, we’re so used to just putting it out there for free.
How do I get them to the next step? The next step is just more of you going deeper with them to make sure that that problem is completely solved for them or helping them along the way to get it completely solved.
Knowing they want my help and that I’m going to ask at every step really helps calm down the stress and anxiety of having to sell. They want to take the next step and I’m going to help them. I’m going to ask, “Do you still want to take this next step? Do you want to talk about what’s under the ‘no’?
Do you want to figure out how you could afford this? Do you want to figure out how you’ll find the time to do this program? Do you want to figure out the path to the next steps?” If so, I am here with you.
That is such a loving and generous place to be serving on the sales call. It is walking them through that process and then helping them decide how the future that they want looks.
We all have human brains. A confused mind says “no.” A mind that hasn’t quite figured out how to get to the next place will say “no.” A mind with the improbability of looking at the past is more likely to say “no” versus a mind that’s looking at the possibility.
Our job as entrepreneurs is to help them see what’s possible for them and help them decide what they truly want and what they are willing to do to get there.
A lot of my audience is bloggers that may not have their own services as of yet or even products.
How can I apply consensual selling to brand sponsorships?
When you are trying to pitch brands to do a sponsorship with you, you are selling yourself.
You are trying to find the problem that that brand is trying to solve and that is what you are consensually selling to them.
I know some of you listening are thinking that you don’t have a product or service. I want you to think about how you can apply this to affiliate relationships that you are trying to send people to different links or different products.
Are there questions you can ask to make sure that who you are speaking to is on board with your program or proposal?
It’s simple questions like “How will this help your audience?”
Show them. Don’t just tell them, show them.
It can be as simple as showing them what is in it for the affiliate. What’s in it for the sponsor? What’s in it for the brand and how can you help them?
Every single human’s number one thought is “What’s in it for me?” Whether they’re a company or an affiliate they want to know “What’s in it for me?”
Show them what’s in it for them and think through the benefit of taking this relationship to the next level. How do I want to express that?
There are not any perfect words. In order to create consent, they’re not perfect words. There are words that you have that feel and are coming from a loving, generous place.
That might sound like, “Hey, I love what you do and I know my people are going to love X, Y, Z products. Would you be interested in taking this relationship a little bit deeper, a little bit further, or exploring how we might work together?”
You’re just asking a question. They always have the agency, and their own decisiveness to say yes or no.
What is the best way to handle objections?
Let’s get more specific to your audience. How does your audience think about objections?
It will depend upon if it’s a brand sponsorship that they’re trying to work with. A brand will come back and say, “We don’t have the money right now for that campaign,” or “That’s out of our budget.”
For those that offer services or products, it’s going to be, “I can’t afford it right now,” or “The timing isn’t good. I’m just too busy right now to put in the energy to do your program or service.”
This is a key piece. You must deeply believe that your blog, your services, or your products can help the person or brand on the other side.
If the objection is “We don’t have the budget this year.” The counter might be “Let me help you understand how important this partnership could be for you.”
Come back to what’s in it for them because we find the money for the things that we value, the things that we think are important, and will help us.
I would go even deeper to discuss the importance of. You already have a relationship with them. If it’s still a “no,” let’s figure out when it might be a yes.
“Will you have the budget? When will you make your next budgeting decisions? Would you like to discuss that piece?”
That’s the piece that a lot of people get pushed off by is when they get that objection. They think it’s a no forever when in reality it’s just a no for right now.
Asking that next question, “When will you be looking at your budget for Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4?” whatever quarter you’re going into?
Get an idea so that you can revisit it later. I love the counter objection that you of really being able to explain what it is that you bring to the table.
That piece that often gets missed is when they can tell you what their goals are and what they’re trying to get out of the campaign.
It might be actual clicks to a website or trying to build brand awareness. What sets you apart that can make sure that you can do those things?
Maybe you have an email list. Do you get a lot of leads because you’re already ranking for the product or services, they offer or rank for content that would easily fall into that product or service that they offer?
Be able to set yourself apart. Companies invest in what they think is important. The more and more that you can explain why what you’re doing is important, and show the importance of it, the better.
That might look like your reach, your click rates, your rankings, and stuff like that.
What makes me different? What sets me apart? What sets my audience apart that you might be missing?
A brand might be missing this whole market of people over here. “Let me help you understand why, where I am, my space, my influence, and my platform are important to you.”
Let’s turn it to someone that does have their own service.
Let’s say it’s someone that may work one-on-one as a therapist or pelvic floor therapist. An objection that they may receive is, “I’m busy with my kids, I don’t have a ton of time to be able to do a program.”
We find the time for the things that are important to us. Thinking through, as the service provider, “Why is this one of the most important things that they can spend their time on?”
Here’s the thing, y’all. Time expands to fill the space of whatever you give it.
If you set yourself to think, “It’s going to take me two hours to write a blog post.” it will take you the two full hours. But if you decide “I have 30 minutes. I’m going to sit down and write a blog post.” You’ll do it in 30 minutes.
Just know that’s the way the human brain works. People will spend their time on the things that they value.
You have to do the mental work to think about why it is important for them to spend their time on this and how can I explain that to them.
Maybe it is just saying this is 30 minutes a day. “How would you find 30 minutes a day for the most important thing in your life, if you truly want this result that my service or my products give you? How will you find the time?”
“I can’t” is just the brain’s first response. Our brains are not naturally programmed to figure out how to figure it out. They’re programmed to just decide “I can’t.” We have to dig a little bit deeper.
Ask the brain to get curious.
“Okay, I understand that. If this is important to you, how would you figure out where to make the time?
Would you get up a little bit earlier?
Would you use your lunch hour?
Would you use the time after the kids have gone to bed?
Do you have 10 minutes to take a walk?”
Have you started to think about how would you figure it out? They can start to get resourceful.
It’s important to frame it through the lens of “You said you wanted this thing. It’s going to require a little bit of your investment. That means some time and some money. How do you want to figure it out so that you can get this thing that you said you wanted?”
Bring it back to that transformation that they ultimately could have. The Pelvic Floor Therapist might talk about being able to play with your kids without worrying about sneezing and then you’re going to have to go running inside to change.
If it’s a therapist, it might be having a good relationship with your significant other or your kids.
If you’re dealing with anxiety, it’s that transformation piece that you have to continually bring up. That is why they were initially drawn to you because they see that there’s a problem.
If we start talking simply about assets, “This is what you get and this is what you get.” that’s not what they are there for.
They’re there ultimately to make their life better. You have to know how you’re going to be doing that to bring that to them.
What’s so important, especially with the time piece, is for you to investigate, as the service provider, what else they are spending their time on that they don’t want to be spending their time on.
If it’s the pelvic floor thing, how much time are you spending worrying that you’re going to pee your pants when you sneeze?
How much time does it take you to clean up the mess and change your clothes?
How many times are you doing that a day or a week?
What if you could be investing that time into figuring out how to solve this problem forever?
What are the things that they are missing out on?
There are probably things that they’re not doing like not running that marathon that they may have thought they were going to run or chasing after their kids even.
What is the biggest mistake made when selling?
One of the things that I see as the biggest mistakes is not making the offer and not offering your services. People just don’t sell as much as they should.
Maybe you make an offer once a week. Triple that. Then, triple that again.
You are saying to make it that offer more, not necessarily only on the discovery call. Also, putting it out there and letting it be known that you offer this service or product.
I used to do this, I would know I told people about my services this week. How many times? Once, it took me two hours to put a post together.
It took me two hours because I was so scared. I was freaking out, spinning out, and wanting to vomit.
But we need to do this every day. The more you do it, the less time it will take.
The more you do it, the more people will know you in your industry for exactly what you do. The more practice you will get, making the offer, marketing, selling, and the more sales you will make. You are going to want to feel like you need to vomit.
It’s okay. Be nice to yourself and do it anyway.
That’s one of the pushbacks I get from clients when they do a flash sale or if they try to do a launch. I’ll say, “Okay, you put it out there. You did a Black Friday special. What did that look like? How many emails did we send? How many Instagram posts did we put out?”
They say, “I did one Instagram story and I did one email.” I tell them that’s not a sample. That’s not sales. That’s not enough.
Listen, y’all, I know you’re going to hate to hear this and I hate to be the bearer of bad news but people need to hear things 17 to 20 times before they say yes.
Be willing to be annoying. It’s okay. If they think you’re annoying, they’ll unsubscribe.
Unsubscribers are not the end. It’s not a failure. It just means they were never going to buy and that’s okay. Get rid of them. Let them go with love.
Sell to the people who want it. Your audience is full of them.
Make offers to them. They need to see it so much that when the words come up that identify you and your brand, they know it’s you.
You have to become known and becoming known means you have to be visible and you have to be willing to be annoying.
A lot of people get stuck on the unsubscribes and see them and are upset about all these people unsubscribing. That’s dead weight that you’re getting rid of. You’re not having to pay for them to just sit there on your list, not doing anything.
We want them to exit and exit for themselves. I send them with so much love. It used to freak me out so badly to get unsubscribes and now I visibly go look at the people unsubscribe, put my hand on my heart, and think “I love you. Thank you so much for deciding for yourself. Bye. It’s nice knowing you. I’ll be here if you ever want to come back.”
This is a good thing. They’re self-selecting out and that is a beautiful thing. Thank you for being part of my audience.
We have different stages within our business. I can think of one client in particular who’s a homeschooler. People probably came on at some point to your list and maybe their kids are no longer being homeschooled or they’ve graduated, especially if you’ve had your business for a while.
Understanding that it’s part of their journey to unsubscribe and move on to bigger and better things is perfectly fine and is important to keep in mind.
So many people are afraid to be controversial or to stand for something. The more you stand for what you believe in, the more people are going to select out. That’s a good thing. They were never really in your audience to begin with. Please stand for something.
Please stand up and make a difference. Stand on your own.
Who cares what the haters think? They’re not here for you. It’s all about your positioning; being able to set yourself apart that way to attract the people that are meant to be served by your content and the problems that you can solve for them.
Tell me more about the Consensual Selling Conversations Guide that you offer.
I offer a free 30-page guide to consensual Selling Conversations.
I also have a masterclass called How to Sign Your Next Three FBI Clients. You get that workbook as part of that. If you want to do that, just head over to MelanieChilders.com/salesmasterclass and sign up for the list there. You will get the replay and your workbook all in one.
Twice a year I run The Bad Bitch Mastermind. You’ll find everything you need over at melanie childers.com/mastermind.
I help women blow up their service-based businesses with their values and their ethics firmly on lock. I also run The Bad Bitch Entrepreneur Podcast.
I hope that helps you wrap your brain around the idea that you need to have a shift in your mindset when it comes to selling.
It’s not about manipulating and getting people to never be able to get them to say “no.”
We want them to say, “That’s not necessarily where I’m at or where I’m going to be at this point and get them to potentially move on so that you can find the right people that are meant to benefit from your products and services that you offer.