One of the reasons we find sales uncomfortable is because we have to start conversations with strangers. I often get questions from clients around how to start a conversation or how to build a relationship with a stranger (without pitching).
I find this especially true with online entrepreneurs. We’ve all gotten the endless onslaught of direct messages trying to sell us something without any context. It feels yucky and pushy – which is the biggest pushback I get around sales!
“Ryann, I hate sales – it feels so gross…”
Good news, my friends!
There are ways to start conversations with strangers and start building a relationship without trying to sell anything (until the time is right). I am going to give you ONE question to ask yourself every time you interact with a stranger…would I say this to a friend or family member? If the answer is NO – then don’t say it online!
Would you direct message a friend with a link to your calendar to ask them to schedule a time with you to talk? Or, would you send you send a message to a friend to download a “freebie” if you didn’t know if they needed the information inside of it? Would you send your sister a text message talking ONLY about yourself (when she didn’t ask how you were doing)?
Then WHYYYYY are we doing this to people online? Why are we sending people our calendar links to schedule time with us when we know nothing about them? Why are we sending links to our freebies to people if we don’t know if the freebie solves their problem? Why are we talking endlessly about ourselves?!
STOP. Just stop.
Here’s the deal, I don’t want you to feel bad if you’ve been doing this, that’s never my intention. I just want you to start thinking about how you feel, how you want to make buying decisions, and how you would talk to a friend or family member. Every single time you interact with people online – you should think about these things.
Okay, now we know what not to do, right?! Then, what is the right way to start a conversation with a stranger online?
Here’s the piece of advice I want you think of here – how would I start a conversation with this person if you were face to face? How do you start conversations at networking events? Cocktail parties?
You start with “small talk,” right?
I always start with thanking the person for connecting. Then, I ask them a question about themselves.
What are you most excited about in your business right now?!
What big things are you working on?
Tell me about you and your business?
If I saw a comment they left somewhere, I let them know that. “I love your comment on that post – and appreciate your insight…tell me about yourself!”
The point is start a conversation – just like you would in person.
Keep it light and high level. Ask follow up questions. “Oh wow, that’s really interesting – what kind of clients do you work with?” “Really – what kind of online course are you launching?”
Eventually – they will ask about you and what you do.
DO NOT START SELLING. We make the mistake of thinking this is your opportunity to speak up and talk about yourself and wind up oversharing. Answer the question – deliver your elevator pitch – and then ask them another question.
My goal is to learn as much as possible about a person in the first few exchanges. I want to know what they do, what kind of clients they work with, and then eventually will ask about challenges in their business. I start to ask people their stories – when and why did you start your business? Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
I know, I know – we’re like 20 messages in right now.
Just like you would be in a conversation with a girlfriend or cousin, right?!
Eventually, I will let the person know that I think they could find value in joining my Facebook group or downloading my 10 Questions To Ask To Hear Yes More Often. But only after I have a specific reason WHY they should. “You mentioned wanting to work with more clients – I have a totally free Facebook group that would be a great resource to you – we’d love to have you.”
Will this take longer? YES.
Will people ignore you? YES.
Will people pitch you when you’re trying to make conversation and get to know them? YES.
Then WHY would I do this?
It helps you filter out the people you don’t want to work with. It helps you start building relationships faster – in turn, bringing on clients faster. People start referring you to their friends. They start telling people about how much value you’ve provide for them. Even if they’ve only talked to you once.
You become a real human being – not just another pushy salesperson.
You’ve heard the saying “anything worth doing is worth doing right,” right?
When you put in the time, provide value, and treat people like you would a friend or family member – you will start attracting more people into your tribe. Even if they don’t do business with you – they know you, like you, and trust you – and will refer you to others.
And that is what it’s all about – the more value you can provide, the more raving fans you will create, and the larger your reach will be!