notinI’m one of those people who hates being sold to. I’ll never engage with cold calls, stop to speak with promotional street teams or fundraisers (known in the UK as “chuggers” – blending the words “charity” and “muggers”), or subscribe to in-store loyalty programs when prompted at a checkout. In short, I’m your sales team’s worst nightmare.

It’s not that I don’t buy things, support charities or have loyalty toward specific brands – of course I do. But if you want me to become your customer, you’d better not send aggressive, ill-informed, clumsy salespeople my way – they’ll do more to turn me off your product or service than to get me excited about the prospect of making a purchase.

Build Trust

The first step to winning me as customer is to build my trust by demonstrating that your brand/product/service can add value to my life. The best way to do this is via testimonials, endorsements, independent reviews and educational resources.

I’m far more likely be swayed to make a purchase if a product has been recommended by someone I consider to be a peer.

You might say that the best way to make me a customer is to do a good job for someone else first.

Share the Good News

Once you’ve created those testimonials, endorsements, independent reviews and educational resources, you’ll need to share them as widely as possible via your website, blog, email and social media (encouraging your employees, business partners and customers to do the same).

Instead of approaching me directly with a “cold” sales call, let me believe I have discovered you. This makes me feel smart and more open to your (gentle) approach.

Don’t be shy when sharing content. The more proactive your approach, the more “discoverable” you become. Make sure your name can be seen everywhere.

Add Value and Capture Data

Once you’ve been discovered, you need to add value to your proposition by educating your prospects. Downloadable eBooks, white papers, brochures and online events like webinars are great ways of doing this and enable you to capture valuable marketing data, including names, telephone numbers and email addresses.


Once you’ve captured my interest, it’s time to start nurturing our relationship. You do this with more engaging and useful content.

Marketing automation technology, which helps you deliver the right message to the right person at the right time, can help you become a smarter marketer in this respect.

The more useful the content, the more engaged I become, and the more likely I am to make the first move and contact you – giving you permission to deploy the sales team.

The Warm Call

If you have taken the time to attract my attention and nurture my interest and I still haven’t engaged in business with you, there may yet be an opportunity to develop our relationship.

A “warm call” is the complete opposite of a cold call. It is targeted, informed and, if handled correctly, welcomed.

Perhaps it could be an invitation to an event or product demonstration. Perhaps you might want to discuss my specific business needs, helping you to shape your product/service road map. Perhaps you just want to make me a really great offer.

Because I’ve engaged with you previously, because you have done your research and because I feel like I know (and trust) you, I’ll take your call, and I might actually enjoy being sold to.

How do you take the sting out of sales? Share your comments below:

This abridged post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Photo: Craig Sunter