Why You’re Probably Selling Something Different Than You Think

filed under: Branding
Do you know what the problem is with most selling?

No, it’s not the “selling” part.
But if you just gagged at reading the word “selling,” then keep on reading. This is important.

From talking with various clients, we know that a lot of creatives and entrepreneurs feel bad about “selling.” Something about the process and the idea of asking for money (or more money) makes them feel guilty to the point of shivers.

And that’s because selling has been mostly misunderstood and misconstrued in the modern world. When we think of selling, we’re all thinking of that fat guy with a sloppy cigar hanging off the edge of his mouth as he cunningly draws us into a sale we don’t want to make.

But that’s not selling. That’s manipulation.

Selling, at its purest form, is nothing else than an exchange of value.

Let’s step back for a minute into the pre-money world. We have a bottle of honey in our kitchen that you really want because you want to make some honey cakes to win the heart of your love interest. But it’s ours, so you can’t just take it. One day, we say we need a new cooking pot because ours broke. And what do you know, you actually make cooking pots! So you bring one over our house and we gladly give you the bottle of honey in exchange.

Sale closed. Everybody’s happy!

Now say that in the same scenario, you weren’t a cooking-pot maker but a clothes-maker. Urh! You lose! Can’t have our honey (yes, yes still talking about REAL honey!) cause you’ve got nothing to offer in return for it.

Problem: you can’t get honey.

Hence, the invention of money. Instead of having to exchange real value for real value, we can now exchange a symbolic value for real value and be along our merry way!

Money is nothing more than a symbolic representation of value received.

So, if you’re offering customers real value through your products or services, there’s no shame or guilt or evil in asking for the equivalent symbolic value in return. (Because you’ve got all the eggs and jars of honey you really need, thanks very much!)

Did you notice what just happened? We didn’t say when you offer customers your products or services. But rather:

When you offer customers real VALUE through your products or services.

Slight shift, huge difference.
Because what you’re selling? Is NOT your products or services.

And that’s the problem with most selling:
It focuses on the product. But a product (or service) is nothing more than he means through which you deliver value.

True selling is about the value provided and the value received–not the means of the value delivery.

What does that mean for you?
It means that when you’re selling you need to focus on the value that your thing (whether a product or service) brings into the life of your customer.

That bottle of honey from above, for example, wasn’t just a bottle of honey to you—which could be of debatable value. It was the way to winning your love’s heart (honey cakes!) — which is invaluable. So you were ready to provide good value (cooking pot) for it in return.

And the same goes with your non-imaginary and non-prehistoric items of sale. The trick to selling is to discover the real value you provide your audience and then show them that.

When you do, not only will it be easier for you to make the sale, but you’ll never again feel bad about selling. Because you’ll know precisely how much good you’re doing to others and how much value you’re really providing beyond the mere “cost” of your thing for sale.

Case in point:

Take a look at this superb ad from Western Sydney University.
Before you hit play, jot down what you think a university may be selling. Then hit play (holding tight onto an absorbent tissue) and see how close you’ve come to the real value provided.
Foooom! Mind. Blown. Right?
The value of a university is not $50,000 or $100,000 (or however much it costs to attend). Nor is its value “a degree” or “getting a (better) job.”

The value of university (at least according to this ad) is the freedom it gives people to fulfill their dream and fight for what they believe. And that’s simply priceless.

What’s the real value you offer?

What are you really selling?