How not to be perceived as sleazy

When you're building a business and trying to find new customers, it can be tough to know what to do to avoid seeming sleazy. When I talk to people who want to start their businesses, they often say, "I don't want to sell myself" or "I'm afraid of coming off as sleazy," so let's talk about how to ensure you aren't sleazy. 

What's sleazy when it comes to sales? 

I'm going to bet most of us have had someone try to sell us something that turned us off. Maybe someone came off too strong, or the approach didn't feel genuine, or it felt like they just wanted to make money. 

I recently had an experience with someone that turned me off big time, and I honestly don't think they understood they were pushy or sleazy in their attempts. Unfortunately, this does happen, and it turns people off, and when you're starting a business, you can't afford to turn off potential customers.

Asking for the sale before you know anything about the customer

It's one thing to ask for the sale once you've established a relationship with someone, and they've expressed interest in your product or service, but when you ask for the sale without knowing anything about them, you can appear sleazy.

I had a neighbor contact me recently, trying to sell me their diet pills and drinks. They knew I walked and thought that meant I'd like to buy their product. I thanked the person for their message, and politely declined by saying that I wasn't in the market for diet pills.

They then tried to sell me on a weight-loss shake to help me lose weight since that must be why I walk. This time I wasn't quite as polite in my response but again said I wasn't interested in buying pills or shakes. I said I was working with a nutrition coach and had lost about 40# in the last year and was very happy with what I was doing.

Rather than dropping it, the person said that was great, and offered me a third product, a weight loss coffee. Now, I hate coffee. I have never been one to drink coffee. I'm not anti-caffeine, but I'm anti-coffee. At this point, I took an educational approach and said, I know you're trying to grow this business, and I want to see you succeed, so I'd love to share a few things with you that might help you do better. 

The person was open to the feedback, so I shared how you need to get to know your Ideal Customer and understand what they want to provide the solution to their problem. Continually offering your products when someone has politely declined ends up feeling pushy and sleazy to the potential customer. Trying to sell someone coffee when they don't drink it isn't going to make sales.

Are we teaching people not to take no for an answer?

No or even no thank you is a complete sentence. If you're trying to sell someone on a product or service and someone says no, that's your answer. You don't need to continue to offer them alternative products unless they ask or invite you to share more. If they say, I'm not into coffee, but yes, I'd love to learn more about losing weight, then you have an invitation to provide more information and won't be perceived as sleazy. But if someone has shown no interest and politely declined your offer, let it go.

Don't invite people to events and then surprise them with a sales pitch. No one wants that. Be upfront and honest with people. If you're hosting a party or want to give a sales pitch, just say that. Don't invite friends to your home for happy hour and then have MLM products for demonstration. Don't offer to host a group and then force them to listen to your sales pitch.

If people are interested in your product or service, they will ask about it. All you have to do is let them know you either sell a given product or offer a service. You don't have to remind them.

What not to do on Social Media

Don't bombard your social media followers with post after post about your product or service. Your friends and family want to see you succeed, but in all honesty, most of them don't want to hear about it all the time. Think about why people spend time on social media – to be entertained, catch up with friends and family, and see photos of people they love. They don't sign up to social media for sales pitches. Plus, it's against the terms of service for many social media platforms to use your personal account for business these days. Set up a business page, invite your friends and family to follow that page for business updates, and keep your personal profile personal. Those interested in what you're doing will support the business page, and hopefully, they'll be big cheerleaders for you, helping with a like, a share, or a comment from time to time, which helps your page look more appealing in the algorithm.

When pictures look sleazy

So how do you create graphics for your business that don't look sleazy? I know it can be a bit of a challenge. Most of us don't have a background in graphic design. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to remain focused on your customer. What do they want, what do they need, what type of designs or graphics will appeal to them?

From a design perspective, less is more, following your branding guidelines. Make sure you're using your brand colors, font, logo, and photo treatment. Don't go crazy with fonts and colors, that's one way to appear either sleazy or amateur. Professional-looking design is generally very uniform in appearance. Your customers should know it's your business whether they're looking at an ad in a newspaper, something online, or a rack card they picked up.

Avoid using ALL CAPS, funky fonts, and things that seem like they'd stand out a lot. When they stand out a lot, they sometimes look overdone, amateur, or sleazy. Suppose you're not sure what to do, start by using a template on Canva as your guide. Change out your brand colors and fonts, and you should be safe from appearing sleazy.

I know no one wants to be sleazy. As long as you are upfront and honest with your friends, family, and ideal customers, you shouldn't have an issue. When you provide great value to people, they're more likely to refer others to you, which can grow your business even faster. Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions about how not to appear sleazy because I know no one wants to put that aura out there.

If you've been thinking about starting a business and aren't sure what type of business is best for you, get a copy of the Business Builder's Guide and get started today.