“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
~ Lao Tzu
In this blog post I talk about slowing down the sale. Both the importance of it and some practical ways to do it.
It’s important to note that what we’re talking about here is, in the main, the kind of sales made within the context of a conversation, i.e. higher priced services such as 1:1 work or group programs, although some of what I share can be applied to your sales pages for lower priced digital products too.
We are living in a world where speed is celebrated as the be all and end all and nowhere do we see this more than in the world of online business.
Most marketing practices we see online are designed to get people to buy now. We’re encouraged to use false deadlines, trip wires and countdown timers to hurry people along in their decision to buy.
Just recently, whilst reading a newsletter, I felt a wave of disappointment when I followed a link to a recommended training and realised it was one of those pages that gives you just minutes to decide if you want to attend it and then invites you to book a time slot, even though it’s a recording, so the very idea of time slots is something of a nonsense!
We’re taught to play on people’s fear of missing out in order to get them to buy, whether or not it is in their best interests to do so.
In traditional online marketing the focus is on getting the sale and getting it quick before the buyer has a chance to change their mind or figure out that what’s on offer isn’t what they truly need or want!
Some business experts will even encourage you to tell buyers to get out their credit card and make high ticket purchases on the call — yuck!
As conscious business owners, this is not how you want to treat your potential clients and customers, yet it can sometimes feel like this is the only way to really make money in your business.
In this article, I want to get across the point that there is another way.
In fact, what I’m going to share is an approach that not only differs from what we’re usually told about “closing the sale” but that actually flies in the face of it.
What I’m talking about is slowing down the sale.
Taking the foot off the gas pedal and creating time and space in which our customers can make an informed decision about whether or not to buy from us.
Why is this so important?
Slowing down the sale is important for several reasons.
Top of the list for me is that it cultivates trust. Unlike what many online marketers would have you believe, rather than letting the sale escape, what it actually does is make a true and genuine yes much more likely. This is because people have the space to say no, meaning that when they say yes, you can count on it.
I can’t tell you how many times, clients have come to me complaining that people have said yes to working with them on a sales call, only to later change their mind or, worse still, have started to ghost them. The reason? They felt pressured to say yes, but deep down didn’t want to or they didn’t have enough time to make the right decision for them in the first place.
Slowing down the sale also ensures that you only work with right-fit clients. When you’ve spent adequate time with another person, getting to know them and taking the time to ensure that what you offer and what they need is a fit, then you are much more likely to enrol people who will benefit from your service. Working with ideal clients means you get to do your best work, which in turn means you’re much more likely to have a greater impact, which in turn leads to glowing testimonials and word of mouth referrals. If you’ve already experienced working with a less than ideal client or a perfect one, you’ll know what I mean.
Another important reason to slow down the sale is that it feels better for you as the business owner and for your would-be clients. No one likes to feel like they are pressuring someone into saying yes and nobody enjoys being pressured to make a decision faster than feels comfortable for them. When we as business owners create space for the right decision for all to be make, it makes such a refreshing change from the usual online practice of closing the sale quickly, that people really feel the difference and feel enormously grateful as a result.
And last but definitely not least, I believe we should slow down the sale because it’s the right thing to do. Might we lose some people, who would otherwise say yes with a bit more pressure? Maybe, but for those people who do say yes, what we create are relationships far more likely to last over time, because they are built on a foundation of trust and respect. So slowing down the sale is both the right thing to do and doesn’t have to mean less income in the long run, because when you work with people who trust you, they will buy from you again and again. I have seen lots of evidence of this in my own business.
That covers much of the why around slowing down the sale but how do we do it in practical terms. Below you’ll find six practical steps you can take to slow down the sale.
1. Slow yourself down
Slowing yourself down absolutely has to happen before you can genuinely slow down the sale for the customer. Oftentimes, before the money is flowing consistently in our business, we might find ourselves feeling needy or even desperate for the sale, so much so that when someone shows interest, it can be hard not to pounce on the opportunity.
Regardless of our financial needs, keeping our energy in check is crucial, if we are serious about creating the necessary space and conditions for a right-fit sale to occur. In the early days of my business, before talking to someone about working together I would remind myself that whilst I might need (or really want) to make a sale, I didn’t need to make this sale. That was my way of reminding myself that there would be other sales conversations and that getting a sale was not more important than enrolling the right person to my coaching program. Ahead of complimentary sessions or sales conversations, I would often meditate to get into a calm and trusting space — this really helped me to slow down.
2. Slow the customer down
You get to set the pace, just because someone you’ve never met before writes and asks you to share details of your packages, doesn’t mean you have to send over your prices in a heartbeat. Instead, you can say something like: before we get to that, let’s look at what you really need and whether or not what I offer can truly help you.
I see this with clients all the time. They are in reaction mode when someone expresses an interest in working together and because they haven’t taken the time to slow themselves down, they feel like they have to respond as quickly as possible with whatever the potential client has asked for.
Personally I won’t agree to work with someone unless I’ve coached or had a conversation with them and feel certain that there is something I can support them with. With that in mind, discussing the logistics of working together feels very premature. Besides which all of those details are on my sales page. I would much rather get into a conversation about why they are looking for help and what kind of help they are looking for before we even think about buying or selling.
3. Carve out adequate time and space to have a sales conversation
Of course sales conversations largely relate to the kind of services that people enrol for (such as coaching or group programs) because people are highly unlikely to put down several thousands dollars for such a service without having a conversation with you first.
Many online services providers will offer a short “discovery call” for this purpose but I am not a fan of these (you can read more here for my reasons). If you are currently allocating 30 or 40 minutes for these conversations, I would encourage you to extend the time. You might even have several conversations. Or like me, offer a complimentary session before you even get to the conversation about sales so that you both really get to experience what working together would feel like.
The reason I like to give more than 30 or 40 minutes is because really discussing what the potential client is dealing with and what support they are needing takes time. Why rush it? If the income is going to be several thousands of dollars or more, isn’t it worth spending an hour (or more) to give the potential client the best enrollment experience possible?
4. Test the yes
Even when someone says yes, I encourage you to ask questions that test the yes. It can feel counterintuitive to do this when you want to make the sale but it’s essential if you want to enrol someone who is a right-fit for your service. I encourage you to ask questions like:
Are you sure? Are you a hell yes?
Who else do you need to talk to before you can make this decision?
Do you need more time or information in order to make this decision?
Why do you want to do *this* program?
Why do you want to hire *me* specifically? Why not another coach or healer?
These questions slow down the sale and they let the would-be client know that you are not desperate to make the sale and that you genuinely want them to make the right decision for them (which incidentally will be the right decision for both of you!).
It’s such a different approach to trying to overcome the person’s objections (a practice I loathe), because it’s actually encouraging the objections and then allowing space for the potential client to either honour those objections or overcome them for themselves. In my experience, if I have to work hard to help a client overcome their objections, then they’re not an ideal client. Part of what makes a person ideal for me is that they are 100% in and excited to get started, anything less makes for a less than ideal working relationship.
As conscious business owners we know that each person has all the wisdom they need within themselves to make the right decisions — doing sales in this way honours that truth.
And even if you’re selling something that doesn’t require a sales conversation you can still slow the sale down. The next two points relate to things you can do on your sales page in service to this idea.
5. State clearly who your products and services are not for
On my sales pages I like to make it clear who my product or service is *not* a fit for. We so often fear turning people away that we would never dream of doing this but the clearer you can be about who you can and can’t help and who you want and don’t want to work with, the more likely you are to get clients and customers who are a perfect fit.
I love the way Tad Hargrave does this with some of his offerings — he has what he calls an Are you sure? page, which pops up when you try to buy some of his services and then he basically lists all of the reasons why you shouldn’t buy. It flies in the face of conventional marketing and personally I think it’s both clever and kind. I love what he does on his 1:1 coaching page to manage expectations and ensure fit. You can check it out here.
6. Be mindful of your language
Are you using wording like BUY NOW and/or creating false scarcity or using arbitrary deadlines? If so, I recommend you stop doing so. You may get the sale in the short-term but you’ll seriously erode trust and may find that you end up with unhappy customers because they bought something that wasn’t truly a fit.
The last thing we want is to have lots of unsatisfied clients out in the world sharing their dissatisfaction about our work with others. Instead of creating false scarcity why not let people know (if it’s true) that there will be other opportunities to join your program or purchase your product. Again, this slows down the sale and has people buy from a centered place rather than out of anxiety or FOMO. It makes such a difference.
We get told that we need to use pressurising tactics in order to get the sale but by slowing the sale down, what you ultimately do is cultivate a deep trust, something that over time will help you to build a sustainable and deeply impactful business with truly loyal customers who sing your praises every chance they get. Now doesn’t that sound preferable to the alternative?
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