You Have to Sell (Sorry…)

You have to sell—especially if you’re going to work for yourself.  But, if you’re like me, selling is a gigantic mountain to climb. For one, I hate, hate, hate sales scripts, strategies and formulas.

Sales, to me, is not a game where the customer is prey. A customer is a human being who deserves honesty and respect. That said, I finally found a way to sell where I don’t feel like I need to take a shower afterwards.

Heavy Stuff

I don’t think selling is simple. Throughout my life, I’ve failed a bazillion-ish or so times to be comfortable with selling.

Then, after reading To Sell is Human, I finally got that practically everything we do in life has some sales in it. We sell, even if we don’t think we’re sales people.

When I want my wife, Lisa, to go to out dinner with me, I start off by telling her about the lousy meal I’m planning to make because I’m tired and not willing to put a lot of (any) effort into it.

That’s pretty persuasive.

A problem arises when persuasion moves into manipulation or outward lying. Far too many sales scripts and marketing tactics fall into these categories.

The good news is that you don’t have to trick, wear down, or lie to somebody to make a sale. Instead, you can use gentle persuasion. Some people call this soft selling.

Here are 3 things I have to do to be able to soft sell effectively:

  1. I Have to Believe in What I’m Selling

I can’t sell something that I don’t believe in. Period. Oh, I’ve tried and it’s always been a huge disaster. For instance, in my twenties a naturopath wanted me to sell an herbal drink that he sold. Worse, he wanted me to sell it to my family and friends.

One day in his office, he was going to “help” me sell. He asked me to pick up the phone and call someone that I thought could benefit from using the product. I literally stared at the phone for 5 minutes—and then never made a call.

Here’s why I stared at the phone: Though the naturopath was convinced the product worked, I wasn’t. The evidence was purely anecdotal, and the supplement was expensive.

Here’s another example. Once I worked as a director at a massage spa. The job was actually about sales, not management. The owner had me memorize their product line so that I could sell the products. This one particular pain relief ointment had zero science behind it and she wanted me to sell it as if it were proven to be effective.


Do yourself a favor, if you’re have a soft-sell personality, don’t try to talk yourself into selling something you question, don’t believe in, or don’t use. For example, don’t sell essential oils to clients if you don’t use them yourself. It’s a waste of time and causes a lot of anxiety.

  1. I Have to Show Them Why They Want to Buy From Me

Selling doesn’t have to be direct, like: “Would you like to come back for a massage?” In fact, some of the most powerful persuasion comes from action, not words.

With massage, you can take action by showing that you care.

If you're lousy at selling, show that you care. Care sells. Click To Tweet

Doing a wrap-up after the massage demonstrates care. Grab an anatomy text book or pull up pics of muscles on your cell and let the client know which muscles you’ve worked and how you worked them. Tell her what you plan on working next time and then touch base with her in a couple of days to see how she’s doing.

That’s a whole lot of persuasion that you’re providing without every saying “When would you like me to schedule your next appointment?”

  1. I Have to Give Myself A Break

You’re not going to love your work all the time. That’s just the way life is so don’t beat yourself up if on a bad day you feel disingenuous because you’ve depleted your reserve of empathy.

Remember, your sales system is built around care. And that is 100% congruent with who you are. So plug into that system even if you feel like you’re going through the motions. Do the post-massage wrap-up or whatever it is that shows that you care about your client.

In other words, FAKE IT! The love will come back at some point and in your heart you know that you do care, just not right now so much.

My Fellow Soft Sellers

If you hate hard selling, soft selling is a legitimate and effective way to sell. Start by only selling what you can get behind. Then show the customer why they want to buy from you.

Providing above-and-beyond care is a great way to show the client you’re going the extra mile. And demonstrating care is a natural for a lot of MTs.

Make care a process in your practice. One way to make it a process is to have wrap-up time after the massage. Let the care flow. Report findings. Talk about what you did and what you think might be helpful in the future (massage or not-massage related). Follow up in a few days.

If you’re not feeling the passion for the job, give yourself a break. It’s there as evidenced by the fact that you built your practice (and now your sales system) around the concept of caring for your client.

More free articles, videos and tutorials about selling and building a practice, right here. The next one on soft selling: Advanced Selling Without Selling–The Secret Weapon.

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