The Art of Selling without Selling

As you probably know, one of the three objectives of my email marketing method is to accelerate your subscribers through the “know, like, trust” process. Another objective is to create an awareness of, interest in, and desire for what you offer.

(We’ll talk about the third objective another day.)

However, these two objectives would appear to be in conflict with one another, right? Because it’s generally accepted by most people whose level of emotional intelligence crosses a certain threshold that selling erodes trust – by making you come across as needy, pushy, maybe even unprofessional.

So, how do I do it?

It’s a strategy I call the art of selling without selling.

Nobody taught this to me. It’s a strategy I’ve pieced together step by step over the last five years, by writing, sending, and analysing more than 3,500 email creatives – and figuring out which approaches worked best over the longer term, and why.

Do you want to see what the art of selling without selling looks like?

Last week, I was explaining this concept to an email copywriter I’m mentoring, and I used the following (admittedly somewhat exaggerated) metaphor:

Imagine you’re up in the air with an aeroplane full of “prospects”.

The reason they’re here, sitting in one of your seats, is because they’re interested in doing a skydive – but they haven’t yet made up their mind, so they agreed to jump on board, see what it’s all about, and maybe they’ll make their mind up later.

(Sounds familiar, right?)

Now, suppose you sell parachutes.

If someone hasn’t yet talked themselves into jumping out the plane, no amount of selling is going to make them want to buy one of your parachutes. You can talk about “features and benefits” all you want, but they’ll quickly tune out.

(Where this metaphor breaks down is that, unlike these air passengers, your prospects can unsubscribe the moment they decide they no longer want to listen to you.)

On the other hand, you can recognise that the reason they’re sitting here, strapped in a seat, 12,000 feet above the ground, is because there’s a part of them that has always dreamed about jumping out of an aeroplane and experiencing freefall.

Now, what I’ve found, is that if you sell them on this opportunity, they don’t perceive it as selling. Why? Because you’re not trying to push them your product.

So, you stand at the doors as they open, with a microphone in your hand, and you tell them how incredible it’s going to be – as they experience true weightlessness for the first time… as they see the world beneath them, and the open sky above them… as they feel the rush and realize that they conquered their fears.

And as you’re doing that, you invite those who feel ready to grab a parachute and hand you $500 as they approach the doors. You’re not being pushy. You’re not being needy. You’re not even asking for the sale. You’re inviting them to buy a parachute.

Because when someone has talked themselves into jumping out of an aeroplane, you don’t need to sell them on the benefits of a parachute.

You just pass them a parachute and they stuff $500 in your hand. Simple as that.

Now, this is just a metaphor, so don’t take it too seriously. However, it illustrates the “big idea” that underpins my strategy for selling without selling:

If you try to sell prospects on your product, many will stop reading your emails. However, if you sell them on the opportunity your product unlocks, people will love your emails – and they’ll read them almost every day, learn about your product’s points of difference over time, come to trust you, and then, when they’re ready to buy, they’ll accept one of your invitations and buy without feeling “sold to” or pushed.

That’s the art of selling without selling.

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