I was a car salesman once.
For a brief period in Columbus, I worked at CarMax and sold the following:
A Ford Expedition.
A Pontiac Grand Am.
A Volkswagon Jetta.
That’s it. The other salespeople that started at the same time as I did were selling circles around me.
I had one of my fellow newbies take me out to the lot one day to show me his sales pitch, so I could hopefully learn a thing or two. I chose the ugliest car I could find-a lime green Saturn-and said, “sell it to me.
And he did!
I stood there in a stupor as I realized that I wanted nothing more than a lime green Saturn. I had no idea how he had done it.
I moved on to other jobs fairly quickly (a receptionist at a modeling agency, a landscaper, a kitchen remodeler, a confectioner’s assistant, and ultimately a teacher) with the firm understanding that I was a terrible salesperson. I avoided any job that required any kind of sales.
In addition, I’m also a terrible consumer. There are very few things I want, and while I know that advertising definitely does have an effect on me, it’s not as extreme as on others. I see things that are for sale, think “that’s neat,” and move on with my day little money spent-unless you’re selling coffee, in which case I’ll buy all of it.
So, when I decided to start copywriting, I struggled with the idea of selling my services. I finally came to a few realizations:
I don’t have to be a terrible salesperson.
Skills aren’t stagnant. Things that we are “bad” at are just skills that we haven’t practiced enough to become “good” (whatever that means!). I realized that I can practice and come up with a strategy that doesn’t make me uncomfortable.
I’ve talked with students for years about having a growth mindset and avoiding the traps of thinking they’re “bad” at something when they are just starting out or haven’t practiced enough. Now that I’m striking out on my own, it’s time for me to practice what I’ve been preaching.
Sales aren’t inherently bad.
In most cases, selling is just a way to get the right product in front of the right people. But when I think of “selling” I immediately think of smarmy used car salesmen.
But then I think of all the things we wouldn’t have if people didn’t advertise it and get it in front of people. Cars and electricity come to mind. If Henry Ford or Thomas Edison had invented these amazing things and then felt uncomfortable telling people about them and eventually selling them to people, we’d still be walking around in the dark and riding horses to work
Everything is sales.
Ok, duh. But like I said earlier, I’m a terrible consumer. I see commercials, but I don’t pay attention to them. You can advertise the new iPhone until you’re blue in the face. I don’t care. Seeing a Walgreen’s commercial isn’t going to make me want to go to Walgreen’s, especially since the last time I was there it was straight up awful.
The reason that we have t.v. shows to watch is because networks sell advertising to support the shows. Free podcasts are sponsored by companies that sell their products. We’re surrounded by sales, and once I realized this, I realized that selling probably isn’t all bad, especially when it’s a vehicle for free content and getting the right product to the people who need it.
You have to keep selling.
Have you heard of Tostitos? What about Chevy? Budweiser? I thought so. But these companies still advertise their products constantly. You would think that at this point everyone would know what kind of chips and cars and beer to buy, but they keep going.
If you’re in the wedding business, there are new people getting married all the time. People who, before they got engaged, probably never thought about cake toppers or aisle runners.
If you’re in the baby product business, there are new people having babies all the time. People who, before they got pregnant, probably never thought about the perfect baby bottle or teething ring.
If you’re in the insurance business, there are new people being taken off their parent’s insurance all the time. People who, before they became real life grownups, probably never thought about premiums and deductibles.
Constantly selling ensures that the right products are getting to the right people at the right time.
Diving into the deep end of creating a service and wading into the waters of marketing and cold emailing is definitely not in my comfort zone. But, right now, copywriting is more relevant than ever. The skill and service that I offer helps put the skills and services that others offer right in front of their prospective customers and clients. And now I’m off to sell them!
If you sell something, have you always been comfortable selling? How do you get your product in front of the right people?