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How to sell without selling

Updated: Jan 16

When you go on a long journey to somewhere new, you have lots to do. You plan it out, figure out the best route and pack the snacks. And usually the journey goes pretty well as long as you don't hit roadworks or a bus replacement service. Often the hardest bit of the journey is the final part - finding the address you need to get to.


And that's exactly what it can be like when you start your new tutoring business. You head successfully in the right direction. You definitely eat all the snacks. But that final part - getting the clients to your address - can be tricky.


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This is exactly the conversation I had recently with a teacher-turned-tutor. Let's call her Jane (not her real name). After a successful 20-plus years of teaching, she'd really noticed how much more demanding the job had become. It was completely draining her so she took the brave step and handed in her notice to leave mid-year. But she still wanted the best bit from her job - the actual teaching. So before she left her job she set up her tutoring business. She knew it was a good move to set up her tutoring business before she left the day job so she'd have a smooth transition into the next phase of her career. She got a basic website together, started to advertise her tutoring services on Facebook, got some leaflets printed and booked a space for lessons. She really had put lots of energy and marketing effort into her new business, and she got 3 clients. And that's a great result to get started!


But she was worried. She'd spent a lot of money on professional leaflets. She'd approached people to do her a favour and send them out for her, and that felt a bit uncomfortable. And she was posting on Facebook about how to book her tutoring services all the time, but it wasn't bringing in the number of clients that she felt she should be getting for the effort she was putting in. She'd been on a long business journey, she'd done lots of things right, so why was the final bit so hard?


Here's why. When you have worked so hard on your business and done so much of it really well, like Jane, you know you have a great business. You want people to buy from you. Why wouldn't they? You are great at what you do! So the message you send out to potential customers is "I have an amazing business. Buy from me!" And every interaction you have with anyone is "buy from me." All you do is sell, sell, sell.


And the truth is, people don't want to be sold to all the time. Imagine someone just knocking on your door and trying to sell to you. Even if they were selling something you might want, would you just buy from a cold-caller? Chances are you probably wouldn't.

We talked about that, and Jane came to realize that she needed to make a change. She needed to stop selling to people 100% of the time. She needed to shift her marketing focus into building a know-like-trust relationship with potential clients. Because no-one likes the hard sell (are you already picturing the second-hand car salesman in the loud jacket?) And thinking back to the leaflets, Jane was already uncomfortable doing the selling. Part of her business was already becoming something she didn't enjoy - it was feeling a bit squirmy and icky. But we talked about how it doesn't have to be like that. And how marketing works better when it isn't like that.


The way to market successfully is not just to sell, sell, sell. Instead, you need to build a relationship that adds value to your potential client. Open the conversation in a way that allows your potential client to get to know, like and trust you. Then when they decide they need the solution you offer, they'll ask for your help and book you. You can only ever sell to people with their permission. And once you've got their permission, it doesn't even feel like selling. It feels like the relationship you have just moves into the next phase. No ick, no squirm. It's selling without selling.


But will Jane do the thing that will really help her business thrive now she has put so much time, energy and resources into it? Will she invest in some marketing support? Because here's the truth. So often - and this is true of teachers especially - we think we can do it alone. We're used to providing the solutions all the time. Surely we're smart enough to figure it out alone! Isn't that what we've always done?

But the real key to business success is getting into the "investment over expense" mindset. It's understanding that investing a bit of money into targeted support is a game changer. Once you do it, you'll wonder why it took you so long.

If Jane just keeps selling, selling, selling it might eventually work, maybe, but it's going to be a long hard road. If she has a go at DIY marketing by downloading all the freebies, maybe she can find some help and value. But so many freebies are there to tell you what you need to do, not the vital HOW to do it. But if she knows HOW to add value and build relationships by investing in the support to fast-track that growth, it's guaranteed to be a much more comfortable, faster ride.


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If you'd like to avoid the bus replacement service and road works in your journey to set up your tutoring business in order to have a smoother, faster ride to your destination, book a chat with me. Snacks I can't promise (we're on Zoom :) but more clarity I can.


Here's the link to book a free, no obligation relaxed call https://calendly.com/jigsaw-phonics-tutoring/free-call-with-sandra?month=2023-01