Sales pitches. Some days it seems like everything is a sales pitch. Buy this. How about that? Discount now! Going, going, gone. Some days it seems like the sales pitches themselves need to be going, going, gone, doesn’t it?

That’s exactly what will happen.

Most people are simply not ready to buy whatever you’re selling. At least not today. And if you train the people on your list that you’re always selling, guess what will happen? They’ll stop interacting with your emails. They won’t unsubscribe – so when they are ready to buy, they’ll check their spam folder to see if you’ve sent out any discounts lately. But otherwise they won’t look at a thing you’re sending.

Wait. What? Look in their spam folder?

Yep. I call it “migrating to the right” because in one of my email inboxes, my active inbox is on the left, then promotions folder next to that in the middle, then spam on the right. Over time, emails that you don’t interact with will move from your inbox into the promotions folder, and when you don’t interact with them there, they’ll move into the spam folder.

Seriously. Check your spam folder and see if there are legit emails in there- emails from people who were, at one time, interesting to you, but you’ve stopped looking at what they’re saying. It’s happened to me in my own email – like those emails from a retailer I only buy from once a year (you guessed it – in December). If it’s not December, I don’t even open those emails, and I certainly don’t click through them. When I want to see if they’ve sent a coupon, I have to go to my spam folder to find their latest.

So what’s the lesson to be learned here?

If you’re constantly exhorting people to buy, they will stop listening. And when you have something relevant to share, they won’t see it. You will have trained the people on your list that you’re always out for a sale. Even if you’re offering a “complementary consultation,” people will assume it’s going to be a sales pitch, because a sales pitch is all they ever see from you. So what value could you possibly offer that would not involve the exchange of money?

See what I did there? I went straight into the brain of the people on your list. How did I do that? Because I get those emails – selling, selling, selling, all the time – and I stop paying attention myself. Step back a second. How do YOU react when you get those sorts of emails? Do you jump in and click through and engage? Or do you let it sit in your inbox thinking it might be helpful at some point down the road? See? So why would YOUR potential buyers do anything different.

It’s funny, really.

So many marketers approach marketing without taking into consideration how they themselves would react to the very emails they are sending out.

It’s time to earn the right to sell.

There’s an amazing book called The Go-Giver by Bob Burg, in which a young man named Joe learns that changing his focus from getting to giving – putting others’ interests first and continually adding value to their lives – ultimately leads to unexpected returns. This is the ultimate recipe for marketing successfully and turning people on your list into customers who buy. As business people, owners, and entrepreneurs, we all have something of value to offer some subset of the population – our perfect potential customers. When we can offer that value in small, easy-to-consume doses, people will respond. We build trust. We create relationships. We help.Sell without selling

This is how you sell without selling. It’s providing value to the community you serve, even without the exchange of money.

The short version – when we market in a customer-focused way, paying attention to the needs, wants, aspirations, and issues of our perfect potential customers, when we provide value without asking for payment, we train the people on our lists that we are a RESOURCE – a person or business that can be trusted, that has their best interests at heart. And, in doing so, we earn the right to ask them to buy at some point.

No, you don’t have to give everything away. You can still have your sales ladders and your funnels and your ascension plan and all of that. BUT… by building trust FIRST, by providing value, by serving your audience in the way that they need, you will create a list of people who are more likely to buy when you’re ready to suggest it to them.

Guess what that does?

You get to be you. You don’t have to keep thinking up new and different sales pitches. You can focus on your expertise and sharing it with your perfect potential customers. You’ll build trust. Maybe you’ll even build a following and create some raving fans. Sure you’ll get the people who will take anything from you as long as its free (and never buy anything), but you’ll also get MORE customers in the long run. You’ll build a relationship with your tribe and show to them that you are a valuable source of information.

They will all know that YOU are a go-to person in your field.

Fill your blog with informative stories that will inspire and help your readers. Host a webinar that doesn’t include a sales pitch. Attend a networking event and ask “what do you do?” instead of saying “here’s what I do.”

Create lead magnets – freebies – that your perfect potential customers will find incredibly valuable – that they’ll willingly give up their email address to get. (After all, the key to having a warm and responsive list is to start by attracting the right people into it, right?)

Take every opportunity to sell without selling at all. You will sell more when you build a list of people who trust you, respect you, know you, and yes, maybe even like you.

You will have earned the right to sell.