Selling is dead!

Selling is dead! All you need now is your personality! (Jesus wept)

Things keep dying, have you noticed? Last time it was blogging and this time it’s selling. We’re here because I got triggered by a clickbaity social media post. Anyway, just forget about selling. Your personality will shift products now because SELLING IS DEAD!

Last night I had a dream that I was Keith Allen.

Well, actually, I was still me, pretending to be Keith Allen who was in turn, playing a role on the London stage. I gave a cracking performance. I wowed the audience. I even heard someone in the crowd whisper, “Is that Sarah?” see, they weren’t quite sure—that’s how good I was. There I stood, head shaved and bare-chested, being Keith Allen being some other character.

I think you’ll agree, that’s quite a funny story. Reading it has given you a flavour of my character. That little tale has made you want to hire me RIGHT NOW. Go on, do it!

Welcome to the latest episode of Squirts From The Marketing Shit Fountain…

I am grumpy today. Again. I can’t help it, it’s genetic. 

It is absolutely acceptable to run your business how you wish. If you get results with the thing I’m going to piss all over, pay me no mind.

The Social Media Wisdom Directive 275 clearly states you only need a personality to sell stuff.

Correction: there is no Social Media Wisdom Directive 275. And the person who made this claim is speaking from their own experience. So, to be clear, they need their personality to sell their stuff. Not your personality, yours is shit. And if you don’t have a personality, well, you’re fucked. 

The “people buy from people” mantra. 

Sound familiar? Old-style selling is dead? Getting to know your prospects is the new way of selling? This blarney is another line from the social selling playbook—build relationships and your prospects will come (gross). I don’t really know how I feel about this. (I do, I’m just trying to seem like I’ve considered the other point of view.) I guess it depends on what you’re flogging. 

If a potential is looking for a long-term service provider, they’ll probably want to know a lot more about you. So funny stories and social media posts about your kids could be the way to go. And hey, I’m all for nurturing a prospect but only when I get some kind of commitment from them. For example, when they sign up for this brilliant blog. (SEE BELOW THIS POST.)

SIDE NOTE: if you *only* want personality, grab my non-business blog.

Selling using your persona is unreliable.

Despite folks saying this method works for them, I wouldn’t recommend nailing all your colours to that particular mast. Especially if you are a copywriter. You’re sorta kinda doing yourself out of a job.

Personality for sales smells like brand awareness.

That’s you saying, “Hi this is me/my business” on the regular. We all need to do that, btw, that’s how people get to know us. But brand awareness is top-funnel content. And the folks that need that guff are new prospects (they are nowhere near ready to buy). Yes, we should drip-feed brand awareness for those newbies—that’s a good thing to do but it will take ages to convert, if at all.

FYI: Prospects are not clients.

When they part with cash they become clients. But they only do that after they have a bit more to go on. Brand awareness content is no good for the potentials who are already aware of our existence. There might be a few reasons why they have not decided to buy. Only churning out personality/brand awareness content might be one of them.

It’s true that your business has a personality.

Even if you don’t think it does—it does.

And the tone should attract as much as it repels. But it’s not all there is to consider when it comes to sales. If you are one of the few, who can sell simply by being you, you must be pretty impressive. If people are wetting themselves to hire you, that’s rare. Perhaps you’re a LinkedIn celebrity (lord fucking help us). Maybe your reputation precedes you. And if you are kind of a big deal, you’ve likely earned the right to lean on your good name, by, I dunno, having to actually sell in the early days.

But for the rest of us losers, we have to sell, not by stealth but by good old-fashioned sales techniques—we cling to the hope that selling is not dead.

I follow a few direct response copywriters.

(To you and me that’s conversion copywriters—yeah, getting quick sales is their bloody job.)

One of my favourites is Cain Smith. He, like the legendary Dan Kennedy (copywriter/marketer/salesman extraordinaire), thinks this about selling: people are scared to do it. Even some marketers feel it’s vulgar or shameful. It makes sense that those folks like to focus on social selling, it’s much comfier.

Don’t confuse selling with being salesy.

The thought of selling makes some sphincters twitch. A lot of us have fixed ideas of what it means to sell. Those fixed ideas include acting smarmy and disingenuous. It conjures images of the pushy cold caller, the door-to-door double glazing salesman and the JML infomercials. The harsh reality is, if you run a business, you will, at some point, need to flog what you do. But it’s a false notion to think you can’t sell legitimately and with integrity (or without lame marketing trends).

Successful businesses openly sell. 

They aren’t putting all their eggs in the personality basket hoping people will (fingers crossed) buy. Cain (the copywriter) is a freelancer and he works for a large marketing agency. He creates email campaigns (along with lots of other copy). His agency sends out more sales emails than the ‘giving value’ emails.


They convert more.

(In fact, they get more unsubs with the ‘giving value’ content.)

Ok, these guys test and measure performance so they know what works for their audience. But Cain is a seasoned copywriter and his view is this: if you have to sell more, send out more sales content.

People DON’T hate being sold to.

They really don’t and the line: people hate being sold to but they love to buy is just more false marketing doctrine. Prospects won’t object to you selling at them if you have what they want.

I know that coz I buy stuff all the time—and so do you. Did you ever get bent out of shape by an advert, sales page or social media post that spoke directly to your need? Did you get pissed off with repeated prompts that eventually made you buy that thing? Of course not. The only time you’d be annoyed by a sales message is when you’re not the target audience.

Unless you’re sending out the wrong content to the wrong people, you won’t get lots of negativity about selling. Genuine warm leads will always welcome a consistent sales message, so just to confirm, selling is not dead.

If you fancy some unconventional help with your content writing, head over to my services page.

Freelance SEO writer

Sarah Wilson-Blackwell

I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).