Why Focusing on Sales Doesn’t Make Your Approach Transactional

I said in a previous post that I would talk about “non-transactional advocacy for your work”.

I’ve defined a Transactional approach to business as one where the business owner is significantly more focused on what they will GET from an exchange with a client or potential client than on the value and quality of what they give in exchange.

(I now think Extractional is a better word – if it is a word – for what I am trying to get at when I say Transactional. Transactional by pure definition is about an exchange, and what I am trying to pinpoint as an approach to business is what I see as an unbalanced, or extractive, exchange. But since I started with Transactional, I am going to stick with it for now.)

I’ve seen folks confuse being Relational with being “nice” or kind or soft or gentle with clients. Or with being totally “in service” at all times to the exclusion of making offers and to the detriment of the growth and life of their businesses. Or making offers so softly and quietly that they aren’t really taking up any space or airtime or bandwidth in the world. Or hoping that by being a lovely, wise, kind, generous person that people will ask to work with them without their having to propose it to them. Without having to embody being a money-procuring human.

But I believe you can be Relational and still be in your power and your Mojo as a business owner.

Being Relational in your business approach, for me, is primarily about two things: treating the people you are writing/speaking/offering to as whole, competent, intelligent, and capable people who can make good buying decisions without your using psychological triggers to force sales, and focusing as much on cultivating the quality and depth and effectiveness of your work as you do on making sales.

Both those things can coexist with:

  • Having a robust social media presence
  • Posting regularly to your blog or emailing useful content frequently to your email list
  • Writing or calling people to connect and to explore if or how you might help them
  • Telling people about your upcoming thing that will be for sale in whatever public ways are available to you
  • Reminding people about your thing for sale
  • Hosting a big public event to showcase you and your work
  • Asking clients to share the story of their positive experiences with you
  • Asking people you know to send potential clients your way
  • Telling people you think you might be able to help them and inviting them into a sales conversation
  • Having frequent sales conversations
  • And so on.

So, if you want to have a Relational approach to your business, it doesn’t mean deflating when it comes to marketing and selling, or not attending to your bottom line.

Being visible is not by definition Transactional.

Posting or emailing frequently is not by definition Transactional.

Regularly, even frequently, telling people how you can help them, that you can help them, and suggesting they buy from you is not by definition Transactional.

It only becomes Transactional when the vast majority of your expression is asking people to buy from you and not engaging in any other form of exchange with them unless a sale is on the table.

It becomes Transactional when you shame or blame people for not buying from you, or suggest that without you and your offers or programs they won’t achieve an important goal or get what they most desire.

It becomes Transactional when you lose a sense that everything you write and speak lands in the hearts and souls of other human beings. When you start seeing those humans primarily as faceless and interchangeable means to your end of income and enrollment and not as treasured guests in your world who are gifting you with their attention. When you lose the sense that that attention is sacred.

Being a “non-transactional” advocate for your work demands your being visible, whether it’s being very publicly visible on large platforms or having strong, clear one-on-one conversations with a few,key, well-connected people.

It requires being vocal, having intentional language to tell the story of what your work makes possible for people. Having many ways to tell that story.

It requires being persistent, showing up again and again, speaking up again and again, undaunted, knowing that not everyone is paying rapt attention to what you say and do at all times. Retaining your sense of entitlement to take up space and time and energy to keep saying what you have to say.

It requires being brave, finding the courage to shout out “I exist and I want you to notice!”

It requires boldness, speaking to the heart of what you offer, tapping into the depth and intensity of raw emotion as you write and speak about the things that matter most to you. Letting go of couching what you do in language that feels more safe or comfortable or appropriate.

Being a courageous and tireless advocate for your work takes tremendous inner strength. We fuel that strength when we keep coming back to the recognition that we are magnificent, when we know how to transmit that magnificence, in part through the magic of words, and when we give ourselves the joy and thrill of writing and speaking that magnificence into the world over and over again.

And that is my work with clients.

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