Why Selling Is So Hard For Women
So I’m thinking about women and sales and selling today.
I’m thinking about it because something painful came up around it (that’s always what gets me thinking about stuff, lol). But I think it’s a SUPER IMPORTANT topic that is not talked about enough, so here I go.
The thing about selling that is different from offering or asking, is that it is an OUTRIGHT DECLARATION OF VALUE.
And that’s hard, if not impossible, for most women to do for themselves in their businesses. So most just don’t do it at all.
We are so used to saying, “well here it is…” “IF you like it…” “IF this makes you feel warm and fuzzy…” “IF you maybe, might, could possibly, think this is valuable to you… here it is…”
So rather than declaring the value, it’s an energetic ask: “Is this valuable?” “Is this worth it?” “Am I worth it?” “I don’t know yet.” “you tell me!”
So instead of being a statement of value, and full ownership of that value (that comes from a place deep inside), we are still asking for our value to be validated externally before it’s “okay” to move ahead, or to consider it truly valuable.
This is internal validation, and internal worth vs. external validation and external worth.
We are still positioning ourselves in our work from the GIVING place (which is great because that’s what we all do so well already anyway) and not from the RECEIVING place (which is NOT great because that’s what we all NEED in order to give sustainably at all).
Women are expert givers. Expert care-takers. Expert back-seat-takers. We are experts at humility. We are experts at grace in all these things, and the truth is some part of us believes that it’s more noble.
And what’s harder?? Some part of us believes that it’s more LOVING.
Women were raised to be nurturers, and we will do almost anything to keep that role in-tact, subconsciously of course. But ladies… do not underestimate the power of this subconscious sabotage, women have been abused and burned at the stake for centuries for not following the rules of our roles. Those roots run deep, and they’re there even when you’re not thinking about them.
But confidence?? That’s a whole other story.
True confidence that says “yes, I am valuable and worthy and I know what I have and create is good and helpful and will take you right to the places you want to go, or will help you feel this, or have that…” or whatever the service or product is.
That kind of reclamation of value and self-worth in women makes people not only uncomfortable, it makes them angry.
It makes them angry because we are supposed to be all about giving and care-taking and serving others needs before our own, our needs and value are secondary, they cannot be up front along with the giving part. Not in sales, and not in any other way.
And that is absolute B.S.. Your value and needs not only should be, but MUST BE right up there alongside your service or product in any selling of any kind.
It is a GIVEN that you are offering a product or service that you intend to fulfill with your whole heart just like you always have…
what is NOT always a given, and what many women do NOT do next, is own that value, and their own inherent value, and sell it like it is absolutely that.
They don’t sell it like they’re declaring their value, they sell it like they’re asking for confirmation.
Honestly, it has been the hardest, tenderest work of my life stepping into this territory and beginning to declare that value rather than ASK. To carve out time limits, and availability limits, all of which help take care of my business, myself, and my livelihood.
Your business needs not to just survive, but THRIVE in order to even begin to help and serve more people in the way your heart desires.
In any kind of effective sales the giving (i.e. service/product/solution) must be right there alongside your value and needs as a business. Not behind, or ahead of… right alongside. It is not too much too soon, that confidence in yourself is exactly the confidence your audience needs to feel from you in order to feel truly good about buying from you.
I see so many women (including myself up until recently) selling kind of like a little mouse in the corner, “I made this thing, or, I do this thing for you… maybe you want it? nah?? that’s okay! you don’t need it. It’s probably not that good anyway!”
Instead of being like:
“here’s what I got. I made this, I created this, or I do this thing for you… I think it’s pretty great. I know it’s super valuable to those who want this kind of thing. Either way it’s valuable to me. In fact it’s so valuable to me that I am going to put these boundaries around it for myself (and for you), this is what I want for this (numbers), this is when I need it by (timeline), this is how many I have to sell (availability).”
But we have the hardest time doing that,
because we don’t want to be judged.
Judged as being anything other than a warm and soft place to land for all wounded birds.
Judged for not putting the receiving part FAR behind the giving part. Judged for daring to putting our value up right alongside the value of the service or product as if it were an important part of the equation (because it IS).
We’ve seen how women who do this for themselves and their businesses are judged. We’re no fools.
This is one of those easy things to rear up and say “Oh hell no! F-that!” in theory, but not do in practice.
It is much harder to do because there is a boat-load of fear about not belonging that comes with that. There is a boat load of evidence watching women be called cold, unfeeling, aggressive, greedy, uncaring and worse, trying to do that. We’ve learned that pretty much anything other than us doing the energetic equivalent of knitting people a cozy goddamn sweater is NOT OKAY.
But the bottom line is, it doesn’t matter HOW you sell, or what you do or don’t do, or say or don’t say, it only matters that you ask yourself…
is this a declaration of value?
Or a question of it?
If it’s not a DECLARATION,
go back inside and do the work until it IS.
Because that love, THAT LOVE, is the kind that can truly GIVE. Because its needs are met, it has the full capacity to do so, sustainably.
And that is what we need in this world. More people who dare to be full-up and spilling over. More people who dare to first FEEL, and then declare their own value and belonging before someone else does.
If you’re wondering if this really applies to “real world” business practicalities, and thinking it sounds kind of sensitive and emotional, the answer is YES it absolutely does.
Case in point #1: how many of you would buy a tour to a foreign land you’ve never been to from someone who was like:
“so I’ve got this experience to a foreign land I put together, I think it’s okay? perhaps you’re drawn to it? maybe you think it’s okay too? what do you think? Is it good? We can try it!?”
Nobody’s booking that trip. Whether they’re saying that outright, or feeling it energetically. The trip we’re booking, is this one:
“so I’ve got this experience to a foreign land and it’s going to be absolutely amazing! I’ve put together all the best elements, and all the vital things I’ve learned in all my time spent there, and melded them into one incredible experience that is sure to enrich your life, change your world view, and make memories that will last a lifetime! There are only x number of spots open for this tour as it is departing on x date, the cost is x and can be paid for x amount of ways. Sign up now and start packing for the adventure of a lifetime!”
If we’re going to have an experience we’ve never had before (which ANY kind of new service or product really is, right?), and go to a place we’ve never been before, we want to make damn sure our leader and guide is confident, so we can rest assured we’ll be taken care of.
Now that doesn’t mean she can guarantee there won’t be unhappy campers sometimes, or that it won’t rain one day when there’s supposed to be sun, or that the gallery won’t have an unexpected closure that has to be worked around… but it means she CAN and WILL handle all of it no matter what comes up.
She believes in herself, she knows the landscape, and even if it’s a challenge she’ll find the way, or help for the way. She’s got contacts over here, she doesn’t have to do it alone, she can bring in help or find it if she needs it, it’s no biggie.
That’s why she charges the big bucks. That’s why people are happy to pay it. That’s why she outlines her boundaries right up front.
Because she knows what she’s doing. And because she does, people can relax and focus on truly taking in the sights and sounds, and smells, and tastes, and colors and textures…
Because their guide has taken care of the details and direction for them. Based on lots of her own travels and trials and errors and snafu’s, she knows the way!
Don’t be afraid to be that guide. It is not optional for you to meekly and humbly offer your gifts and instill real confidence in your people.
Yes, you can sell meekly and humbly to a circle of friends, because they know you already. They know you can be trusted, but not to people who don’t know that yet.
When you truly own and feel your value, they will feel theirs. Maybe not right away, but you open the door for it when you do that. You cannot gift that to them, but you can model for them how to feel their own.
I recently listened to a podcast interview with Sean Hayes and he was talking about how when he was a young gay man and he first saw this older un-closeted gay male musician and performer being wildly and unapologetically successful, he thought “WOW! You mean I can be myself and be in the arts and be successful and have everything I love??! You mean that is POSSIBLE?!”
It’s like when I see women who grew up lower class or without a leg up or ‘connections’ and who are not anywhere near the societal standards of “thinness” or “beauty” being wildly successful doing what they love — in the exact same way, I say “WOW, you mean I can be myself and be successful and have everything I love?!” 😭😭😭
Same with how minorities and people of color feel when they FINALLY see themselves accurately represented in the movies, or media, or see others who come from where they came from having all they love and being wildly successful and being wholly themselves at the same time…
The POWER of that is IMMENSE.
It is life altering.
And believe it or not, you are doing that when you dare to believe in your value, and own it, and SELL IT. What do you think those people did to get where they are?? They believed in their value and they kept showing up offering it to the world as if it was truly valuable. Because it was truly valuable TO THEM, and that was enough.
And them owning their value, opened the door for us to own ours. How gorgeous is that? I don’t know about you, but it breaks my heart wide open.
And you and me? We get to be that for someone else. ❤️
We get the opportunity to light the way for others, the same way that others have lit the way for us.
So go get em, loves. You deserve nothing less. You helping YOU, IS you helping others. It’s the same thing in this case because you are already a giver, so it’s just time for you to start letting yourself receive.
Claim the full gift of yourself and your work, and sell it without apology. Give yourself permission to be heard and seen and valued the way YOU decide is best for you, and the thriving of your business.
No one has to agree but “your people” (i.e. the people who are right for you) and they will, they will once you truly do.
P.S. If you want me to be your guide through your journey of owning your value and receiving for it, you can sign up to watch my free 3 part Feast or Famine No More Masterclass — OR — you can dive right into my FULL Feast or Famine No More Course and jump right into the juicy stuff. I’m really good at it, and I know this foreign landscape well. 😉
P.P.S And if you need help with your branding, design or branding and sales messaging, you can find me at The Salty Olive.