Increase Sales

Increase Sales: What’s The Most Important Part of The Sale?

It happened again… Mind you this happens every week. This time the person, in an effort to increase sales, went from connecting with me on Linkedin to booking an appointment with me via my website and then added me as a contact on Skype and started trying to sell to me.

At least this person did ask to find out about my business a teenchy bit, most just launch straight into a sales pitch. But to book an appointment (where I thought they wanted to know about my coaching) to try and sell me an app was pretty cheeky!

And though I often admire cheekiness, the approach didn’t work for them so it simply wasn’t effective.​ (Reminds me of why I created the video below.)

I'll tell you more about what happened with this situation in a bit...​

Many creatives I meet and/or work with don’t like selling so much... In fact I’ve had a few tell me that they don’t have to sell, or they don’t have a business because they are a writer/filmmaker/author/etc.

Seriously? Unless your creative projects are simply a hobby SOMEBODY has to pay for your work. Which means you have clients or customers, i.e. buyers.

And if somebody is buying then somebody is selling… You, or one or more members of your team.

Agree or disagree: "If somebody is buying then somebody is selling" 

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Of course, if you’re not earning as much as you would like it is your job to figure out how to increase sales.

And here’s the thing, you don’t have to turn into somebody you’re not to do this.

You just need to apply the right principles and strategies and take the right actions for you - your natural strengths and personality...

frank zappa quote image

Frank Zappa

"Art is making something
out of nothing
and selling it."

Imagine what it would be like to have your business set up so that the right people easily buy from you?

Click here to get your FREE Guide: "21 Tools to Increase Sales in Your Creative Business"

So I was only delighted to get an email from an actor in the community asking how she could promote herself “without it being too in your face”.

In this post I will explain why traditional sales approaches don’t work anymore and what to do instead.

Whether you’re a creative services company with 25+ staff, a product-based company or a solo freelancer/performer these same principles apply.

(By the way, I talked through a lot of this episode of my weekly live show below if you prefer to watch...)

​What’s wrong with traditional sales?

Traditional sales was all about the push and the close. If you asked a salesperson 10-15 years ago, “What is the most important part of the sale?” they would most likely answer closing.

In fact sales trainers coined the acronym ABC, Always Be Closing.

What this often led to was a high pressure environment where people felt pushed in a certain direction and pressured to say yes.

A bit like being in a bar at the end of the night getting pestered by somebody - who you probably have no interest in - for your number, or worse!

Now of course many of the best salespeople didn’t burn out their network by doing this.

However many people are still left with a nasty taste in their mouth when they think of ‘SALES’...

Today’s Sales Environment

Now though, up to 90% of sales begin online. People don’t need information from you because an abundance of information is at their fingertips. They Google what they want. They post on social media and ask for referrals.

Think about the last time you wanted to buy something - what did you do?

Yesterday’s businesses were product and service focused. Today’s businesses - at least the successful ones - are client-focused.

You’ve got to…

Jay Abraham Quote

Jay Abraham

“Fall in love with your CLIENTS not your business.”

(And by the way when Jay says ‘clients’ he’s talking about ALL people that buy from you, not just service-based businesses.)

Jay means you need to be doing what’s best for your clients (i.e. adding value) and not focusing solely on profits, or being the biggest in your industry or [insert goal here].

(Of course I’m not suggesting that you do this to your detriment either.)

And the great thing is that doing this also takes the pressure off you. Because how could you feel yucky, sleazy or salesy if you’re only doing what’s in the best interest of your clients?

I define selling as simply...

“Sales = Getting paid to help”

Because whatever it is that you do, you’re either helping someone to solve a problem and/or achieve their aspirations. For instance,

  • An actor helps a casting director to do their job finding the best people for a production

  • A web designer helps a company to create an online presence that achieves their business objectives

  • A freelancer helps a creative agency to get their client work done and billed
  • A filmmaker helps their viewers to learn something new (documentary), or forget about their problems (comedy/drama)
  • A business coach helps a business owner to grow their business and achieve the profits, lifestyle and impact on the world they desire (OK shameless plug over! LOL)
Zig Ziglar Quote

Zig Ziglar

“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”

How To Sell Without Being "In Their Face"

So what does this all mean for you as a creative?

It means you need to get in front of the people you can help as early as possible in the process

Because this gives you the opportunity to build a relationship with them where you become the go to person/company for that thing

You’ve got to build up the ‘know, like and trust’ factor. This is not wham, bam, thank you ma’am territory. It’s all about building really positive, trusted relationships.

And this has to be built into the very fibre of your creative business in order to be sustainable and authentic. You can’t just paint it on top like a lipstick PR exercise.

Take the actor who asked me about this. The best way for them to be ‘in your face’ is to blast their stuff everywhere all the time with no regard for what’s relevant or helpful.

Or they can get really clear on where they add the most value, focus in on this and people who would be interested in that particular type of value.

Then they need to start adding value BEFORE anyone buys. In the simplest form this is by having a focused portfolio of headshots, showreel and being on the casting websites that the relevant people who could cast them are on too.

Plus I’d suggest they start building an audience of viewers and be creating their own work that they can add value through in ways that are authentic for them...

That could be putting on theatre productions or making their own films or web series.

Or if that seems too much of a stretch, they can start videoing monologues or simply broadcasting in character - ideally live, or pre-recorded if live is a step too far.

(Though of course I would recommend they collaborate, form a team and look to not only create productions but to make money from their productions by treating it as a business. Then they don’t even have to depend upon casting directors and ‘the industry’ to give them work.)

To simplify this:

  • Figure out the best way(s) for you to add value
  • Be yourself, i.e. authentic
  • Care

Rand Fishkin, CEO & Founder of SEOmoz

Rand Fishkin
CEO & Founder of SEOMOZ

“Best way to sell something: Don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect and trust of those who might buy.”

Note that if you have a service business or are a performer or artist of some kind you definitely don’t want to eliminate your personality with the aim of being professional. More and more these days, people want you to be authentic.

In my Facebook Live Show above I talked about how some big companies do this in authentic ways, such as Trello , ManageFlitter (has funny lines while processing tasks - see image below) and MeetEdgar by building entertainment into the user interface.

In terms of Caring, a wonderful example is ThriveThemes, which I use for my website, and they are absolutely superb in their caring about clients! I rave about them all the time because they consistently add value in the product and in how they educate their clients. Their blog posts often get 70+ comments - many of them pure praise.

How often do you see that for a creative tech company?

Thrive constantly say they’re all about conversion and this runs through everything they say and do. They walk their talk and this is very visible to potential clients.

What’s the most important part of the sale?

Despite ‘closing’ having been the old fashioned focus of the sale, now you need to be ‘opening’ up relationships.


Patricia Fripp

“You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”

Which doesn’t mean that you don’t ever ask people to buy from you, of course - depending on your business - you probably need to do that. (Though if you're an actor don't contact a Casting Director asking if you got the role! A different scenario...)

The idea though, is that this becomes the natural next step with zero pressure and both you and the client are confident that what they’re buying is in the client’s best interest.

So how do you or could you apply this to your creative business? Comment below because I’d love to help.

And if you’d like to find out more about working one-to-one with me, simply click the link below to book an intro call:

Let's discuss how you can set up your creative business to have a Client Attraction & Conversion Machine...

P.S. In case you're wondering what happened with the person I mentioned at the beginning? They might well be reading this blog post because in my effort to help them they ended up joining the community. See - being cheeky AND helpful does work! 😉

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Una Doyle

About the Author

Una Doyle

Una is a Business Coach & Strategist for Creative Services Providers (Design, Animation, Marketing/Digital Agencies, etc.). She helps them to stand out from the crowd confidently & profitably so they can attract high-level, 'Ready to Invest' clients, doing creative work that fills their hearts with pride - WITHOUT selling their soul or adding extra workload.

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Jeremy Montoya

Sales = putting your customer first! Digging this post Una 🙂

    Una Doyle

    Thanks Jeremy – you got it! Glad you enjoyed it. ????

Brent Robison

Awesome post Una! Definitely agree that so many people miss the relationship, and adding value aspect of sales. Too many try to go straight for the sale.

Do you have any blog posts digging in to your top 1 or 2 best client relationship-building strategies? Would be great to link to them in your blog post.. or maybe a good follow up post :]

    Una Doyle

    Something for me to add to the list Brent, thanks for the idea. ????


I laughed at the person booking an appointment to sell you their services. People email me like that all the time. I must have ‘please sell me something’ on my website lol.
Some good advice here though.
Great post.

    Una Doyle

    Thanks Suz – it must be your friendly face! 😉

    Delighted you found it useful.

Kris Trinity

“Because whatever it is that you do, you’re either helping someone to solve a problem and/or achieve their aspirations”

This is such a great post with a boatload of value.

Create a relationship with your target audience by delivering value first; after this, the “close” is done naturally.
This is exactly the role that content marketing takes on for small businesses and entrepreneurs (like yourself).

I would love to discuss this in more detail, Una. Keep up the good work!


    Una Doyle

    Hey Kris, thank you. Yes looks like we’re on the same page. 🙂

    Whether a business is purely online or both off- and online, content marketing done right can definitely be the sales funnel or at least form an important part of it.

    Sure – let’s talk…. 🙂

Drew Hudgins

Lots of great insight here Una! I started a creative done-for-you agency in a small town and for years, I was really just flat out desperate. I’m sure it came through too, in my conversations. It was weird: I’d get all passionate about creating good stuff for people and … in I’m really honest with myself, I’d be all annoyed if they weren’t “getting it.”

Had to really work on “releasing the yes” and eventually, started more of this method (after some coaching, of course) 😉

    Una Doyle

    Hey Drew, wow thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’m sure it will be really helpful for other readers.

    Glad the coaching worked for you. Sometimes it’s hard to see blind spots on our own! 😉

    Cheers Una

Timothy Moss

Love this! Some great points made here!

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