Marketing & Small Business

How to Sell Anything without Being Salesy

March 4, 2021


Now Trending:


I'm a solo filmmaker, story strategist, SEO consultant, and educator. I'm here to either help you grow your business or start making films! Can't wait to meetcha! While you're here, make sure you sign up for the filmmaking newsletter. Or grab the free SEO Checklist for Beginners.


Free Quiz: Discover Your Filmmaker Archetype


Plus find out the exact GEAR you need to get started. Plus get tips on next steps you can take to advance your career.

27 Tips to Get Your Website More Traffic


Get my SEO Checklist for Beginners. This starter checklist will give you an overview of what it takes to drive more traffic to your site.

By Colette Nichol, Story Strategist and Solo Filmmaker

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

What if selling made you feel HAPPY, not stressed and worried…

Are you afraid of being salesy? (You’re not alone, my dear biz owner!)

Do you hear the word “sales” and think of a guy with a comb-over wearing a polyester suit and trying to talk you into buying a used Honda Civic? Then this missive is for you!

If you’re selling something the right way, you shouldn’t actually feel salesy.

Let me explain: selling isn’t actually the act of getting people to buy things. It’s especially not the act of getting people to buy things they don’t need or want. That’s exploitive and manipulative. That’s not sales.

Selling is just the act of sharing your excitement about something and providing the information someone needs to make the right decision.

If you want to learn how to sell without being salesy then keep reading for my four tips to selling that feels good (and is effective).

Excitement is contagious! Also, this gif makes me want a business gavel.

Add Emotion and Detail when Selling

The right decision isn’t always to buy from you. And that’s okay. You don’t actually want the wrong people buying from you!

Now, let’s break this down.

Say you’re selling a cocktail…you could tell people the name of the cocktail and call it a day.

“Tonight’s special is a Lemon and Rosemary Bourbon Sour.”

Or you could add emotion and a little bit of story to your description.

“Tonight cocktail special is a Double Oaked Rosemary Bourbon Sour. It’s the perfect fall cocktail—refreshing and herbaceous with a kick. We use Woodford Reserve, a double-oaked bourbon, which makes it nice and smooth. It goes perfectly with the apple and chickpea fritters—our most popular dish. Would you like to start with that while you decide on your mains?”

You’re probably not working in fine dining, but the same lesson applies to your service or product-based business.

The details are what help people make a decision. In fact, it’s all about the details. We don’t buy vague. We buy specific. Especially something that is specifically made for us. We want the perfect-fit experience.

We don’t buy vague. We buy specific!

Selling Example for a High-Priced Service

Let’s say you’re selling video production services.

Your job is to find out what your potential customer needs and wants. Then you need to find out WHY they want it. Finally, you share the details of your services with them in a way that conveys your excitement about the project and the potential benefit to them.

The boring video salesperson would say (or write in their proposal) something like this:

For five videos at 10-minutes each, it will cost $25,000—the end.

Who the heck wants to buy that!?!

But if you know what your potential customer’s desired outcome is, then include that.

How to Sell with Specific Language

For 5 editorial-style videos that capture your brand’s essence and start a conversation around your main brand topics, the price is $25,000. This includes optimizing the video for SEO so that it gets found more easily on YouTube and continues to get views way past the typical 28-day YouTube lifespan, becoming cornerstone content that drives fans to your website. It also includes pre-production to ensure your videos look amazing without you having to do a ton of work prepping a set. I’ll take care of that.

Do you see the difference between the two versions?

People often ask me how much a video is going to cost. “Um, Roughly how much would say a 5-minute video cost?”

That question is impossible to answer. There’s an infinite number of variables that could affect the cost of a video. So I never give an answer to that question. Instead, I do a one-hour interview with the potential client and find out precisely what they need and want and WHY they want that.

Then I create a proposal based explicitly on their desired outcome.

Unless of course, I know I can’t give them their desired outcome. Then I point them towards someone else.

You can do this exact process with any product or service. You simply need to find out the following:

1. What are your customers’ desired outcomes?

2. What do they want and why do they want that?

Then include that story in your product or service promo copy.

Write for Sales with the End in Mind

Not your end, but their end. Write about your business, your products, and your services while considering what your customer WANTS. Which, by the way, isn’t always the thing you think they want.

You might think your customers want to grow their wealth when, in fact, they just want to have their wealth taken care of and not have to worry about it. Or you might think that your customers want to build brand awareness when really what they want is to double their revenue in the next three years. Or maybe you think your customer wants to feel more creative when they really just want to feel less stressed.

The only way you can discover precisely what your customer wants and write specifically to their desires is by talking to them. Make the question WHY your go-to secret weapon.

Discover why your potential customer desires what they want, and you’ll unlock the secret of sales.

You’ll never feel salesy again if you deeply understand your customer and can speak directly to their needs and wants. You’ll just be sharing your excitement, solving their problems, and telling stories.

How to Do a Customer Conversation That will Help You Boost Sales

If you’re ready to take action, here’s what you can do:

1. Interview one of your customers and find out why they decided to work with you. Also, find out what they were struggling with, what worried them, and what their biggest fears/concerns around your product or service were. Discover what they were aspiring to achieve and what their most dreamy desired outcome was. (Also, yes, I know customer interviews are a pain, but they’re worth it!)

2. Make sure you record the interview and get the audio turned into a transcript. (I use the app.)

3. Go over the transcript and find sticky language that speaks to your customers’ desired outcomes, their worries and concerns, and that holds the nugget of a story. Put that sticky language in a doc that you can use constantly!

4. Go over your website and find places where you can insert more emotion and more elements of your customers’ desired outcomes into the text.

5. Start using what you’ve learned in your customer conversations when speaking to potential customers. Speak directly to their desired outcome when you’re having sales or preliminary conversation.

Important Side Note:

If you do have a customer conversation, make sure you don’t shift into selling while you’re digging into their hopes, dreams, problems, and desired solutions. The idea is to just gain intel not to propose anything.

Okay, that’s enough to get you started!

As you go through this process, you’ll learn a lot about why people work with you or buy what you sell. This will help you improve your marketing and sales process. It will also help you to focus your next product or service offering or refine an existing one.

My goal for you: never feel salesy again!

Instead, I want you to embrace the fact that selling things is just combining your excitement with some useful details and a dash of story.

Learn Storytelling to Boost Sales

If you’re writing blogs and sales copy for your business, you might consider learning how to tell stories more effectively. If you’re in, check out STORY GURU. It’s a 14-day mini-course that’ll help you gain story confidence. Using storytelling effectively has been shown to increase the ROI of any marketing endeavor and boost sales.

Storytelling Course

Write Stories that Engage Your Audience

In this 14-day storytelling course, you’ll dig into your own person story trove.

You’ll learn how to connect with the basic story elements in a way that’s emotional, not just technical. You’ll practice the elements of storytelling, just like a musician would practice her scales or chords.

So when you’re ready to tackle a story, you won’t be afraid of the blank page.

If you want to improve your business writing by adding stories that engage your audience, this is the perfect course for you. It requires 30-minutes per day for two weeks to complete.

You can spend more time on it if you want to further practice the concepts, but with 30-minutes per day you’ll be able to gain a significantly improved ability to tell stories that engage and connect.

The goal with this course is for you to gain story confidence! You’ll become your own Story Guru.

Oh yes, and did I mention this course is amazing for stress relief? It is. There’s nothing quite so calming as digging into a world of self-discovery and story. It sure beats posting on social media or scrolling through Facebook groups! So there’s that too. 🙂

Time Committment: Go at your own pace. It will take approx. 30-minutes per day for 14 days.


Learn Filmmaking and Get the Gear Guide

If you’re interested in learning filmmaking, check out the Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program I created for aspiring filmmakers and video creators. It usually goes live once per year. So I recommend getting the Story Envelope Filmmaking letter which comes out a couple of times per month. That way, you can get filmmaking tips for free and find out when the filmmaking course is going live again.

Also, before you go, grab the Solo Filmmaking Gear Guide and Checklist for Beginners.

About the Author

Hi! I’m Colette Nichol. I’m a solo filmmaker and story strategist based out of rainy Vancouver, Canada. I’ve been making videos and micro films for small businesses and global brands since 2014.

Plus, I LOVE to help aspiring filmmakers pursue their dreams and start making films. This blog is designed to help you gain the knowledge you need to become a filmmaker.

If you want more, get on the waitlist for the Story Envelope Academy Solo Filmmaking Mentorship Program. It opens up one time per year and is the best way to become a filmmaking or video pro fast!

CLICK HERE to get on the solo filmmaking mentorship waitlist.

Get Started:

At Story Envelope, we're a small team dedicated to elevating messages that matter and helping creatives, subject-matter experts, and service-oriented businesses to reach an audience. We have three main offerings:

ahoy there!