The Biggest Sales Objection: Trusting Yourself

Have you ever crafted the perfect offer, put a perfectly reasonable price tag on it, sent it out to all the right people, and still come up empty-handed in the sales department?

I know I have.

One technique you’ll hear over and over again for combatting this problem is to address your customers’ objections. Are they worried about the time commitment? Show them how to fit it in. Are they concerned that your product is right for the kind of person they are? Explain why it’ll work for them, too. Are they concerned about price? Demonstrate what kind of return on investment they could get.

But the biggest sales objection I’ve run into over the years—and from conversations with our Quiet Power Strategy™ strategists-in-training last week, I’m in good company—has been an objection that’s exceedingly difficult to combat.

How to Combat the Biggest Sales Objection

It’s trust.

But not trusting you. The biggest objection to buying is trusting themselves.

As providers, makers, and marketers, we spend an exorbitant amount of time helping our prospects trust us. We share personal stories, create valuable free content, and demonstrate through testimonials that we can be trusted.

But many times your “ask” doesn’t require any more trust in you and requires your customer to trust their own ability to get the kind of results you know you can deliver.

Getting value out of a product or service requires personal responsibility. Unless you’re a snake oil salesperson, you’re not saying that your product is the magic formula. You’re not the kind of marketer that promises that “one weird trick” is going to reduce the number on the scale by 20lbs or that this secret formula will result in triple the sales.

Even if you design clothing or make jewelry or create paintings, your customers need to feel that they can put your work to good use in order to buy it. People generally don’t buy things they don’t have the confidence to wear or put things in their homes they don’t have the attitude to match.

An Example

Let’s look at an example: Amy is a career coach. She knows she can help people manage career transition, discover a new path, or land a big promotion. She’s done it many times.

On her website, she talks about the clients she’s worked with, the successes they’ve had, and spells out specific outcomes new clients can expect when working with her. She doesn’t make promises—she knows better than that—but she does clearly articulate what she can coach you to if you’re willing to put in the work.

Amy’s practice sustains her own career but it’s not thriving the way she would like it to be. She has a hard time closing new clients. They start with long drawn out emails, they evolve to long initial consultations. They come back and ask more questions. Maybe then she can close the deal.

Yet, her existing clients rave about her. They keep coming back to her even after their initial packages complete. They ask her advice (and pay her) on the little bumps in their careers.

So why don’t more new prospects sign on the dotted line? And why can’t she, for the life of her, get people to sign up for the awesome career change program she put together?


As a potential client, when you’ve had some career missteps, maybe a bad boss or a difficult-to-work-for company, you’re hopeful but cautious. That caution leads to the long sales conversation Amy is having to have to land each new client. It also means that even those who feel like she’s the right person for the job won’t pull the trigger. It’s them, not her.

And if they’re not willing to trust themselves enough to get results from working with her 1:1, they’re not going to trust themselves enough to get results working with her in a program.

Again, it’s them, not her. (It might be them, not you.)

This Sales Objection is Also a Question of Risk

We are exceedingly bad at understanding risk. And a majority of your prospective customers think they themselves are a sizable risk to their own futures when it comes to spending money on goals that can’t be guaranteed. Every time you make an attractive offer, your customers are weighing the risk that they won’t be able to put it to use.

We, of course, think they’re considering whether it will be good enough or not, whether we’re smart enough or not, or whether we’re experienced enough or not. And that may be the case, but it’s far likelier that they’re asking themselves whether they are good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough to get the results they really want out of what you’re offering.

Breanne Dyck, who started this conversation on our Quiet Power Strategy strategist training call last week, explains that to help people feel more comfortable with perceived risks, you need to help them gather more information. More information comes from experimentation (action), not from more data (inputs).

Most of your marketing strategy to this point is about data. Blog post after blog post you’re explaining concepts, telling stories, and sharing experiences. But it’s all just data until someone takes action on it. The result of their experiment becomes true information that allows them to better understand and predict future outcomes. It allows them to better assess their own personal risk and increases their level of personal trust.

That means that in order to combat this stickiest of sales objections, you need to build action and experimentation into your business model—not just data.

Knowing is not enough. Knowing too much can encourage us to procrastinate. There’s a certain point when continuing to know at the expense of doing allows the mess to grow further.

— Abby Covert,  How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

The best way to ask your prospects to act is to ask for a commitment.

Trust (and True Information) Comes from Commitments

Think about the way you develop a romantic relationship. If you meet your special someone online (as I did), you start with committing to email them—it’s an initial experiment. This is about as low of a commitment as you can go. Then, hopefully, you commit to a first date. It’s probably just a coffee or drink date. Then, maybe you do a dinner date. And then a day hike.

Yes, this is a process of learning to trust the other person. To suss out whether they’re the one for you or not. But it’s also a process of learning to trust yourself. Do I like myself when I’m around them? Do I trust myself enough in this relationship to know I won’t make stupid decisions or follow them blindly?

Each commitment helps you learn to trust yourself as much as it does the other person.

As you’re building your business the same process needs to apply.

People generally don’t jump from discovery to purchase—especially not high-end products or services. You need to establish a series of commitments first.

Here are some commitments you might ask for:

  • Like your page on Facebook
  • Join a webinar
  • Exchange an email address for a welcome gift
  • Share a post with their friends
  • Regularly open emails and read content
  • Attend a workshop
  • Buy a book
  • Read a detailed case study
  • Visit your booth at a show
  • Purchase an entry-level product
  • Engage in an initial consultation
  • Book a short-term, project-based package

If you want to seriously combat this huge sales objection and dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes you to close a prospect, don’t pick one or two of these. Pick 3, 4, 5, or more of these smaller commitments. Create systems around them. Build them into your marketing calendar.

Relentlessly ask for small and escalating commitments so that when you’re ready to make a much larger offer, your prospect trusts herself enough to say yes.

Now you might be asking, “Isn’t this why I’m blogging every week?

Sort of. The thing is, blogging isn’t enough. Content strategy is huge, don’t get me wrong. But marketers who are only blogging (even blogging and sending it out through email) aren’t establishing that trust spiral that allows their readers to get closer and closer to feeling really good about making a purchase.

In my own business, I’ve built action and experimentation into all levels of my marketing:

  • I write ebooks that have built-in workbooks. The action is both the purchase and the results.
  • I host webinars that promise results during the call. The action is decision-making and discovery.
  • I teach workshops that build action steps into strategic concepts. The experiment is committing to watching and doing the homework.
  • I offer Goal Discovery sessions as part of my on-boarding process. The experiment is vulnerability and commitment.

Together, these pieces work together so that I don’t have to worry about the “trusting myself” sales objection. If you’ve made it that far in my business model and still don’t trust yourself, you’re probably not a good fit for my programs.

Amy’s Strategy

Remember our career coach Amy? I would ask Amy to think of 3 common scenarios that send people looking for career help. They probably don’t know they need a coach yet (and maybe they don’t), but they know they need to consult Google, a friend, or the network to get an answer. Those 3 common scenarios are:

  • I’m bored at work. I want a new challenge. I’m ready for a promotion.
  • I’m tired of this career. I want a new one. I’m ready to figure out a new direction.
  • I’m not making enough money. I want a raise. I’m ready to ask for one.

Then, I’d ask Amy to create a commitment trigger for each of those scenarios. Maybe she has a free ebook on asking for a raise, a free audio & workbook that helps you pinpoint your interest so you can figure out a new direction, and a checklist for preparing for a promotion. Each of those she puts behind an email wall. The “ask” is for an email address.

Now, let’s follow the free ebook on asking for a raise. The ebook shares exactly how to put together your pitch. The prospect finds that extremely helpful–but now she has a new problem. She needs to combat the fear of asking for a raise. Amy knows this, so she’s got a free webinar that she invites people who downloaded the raise ebook to. It’s all about getting over the 3 biggest fears you face when you ask for a raise.

Of course, asking for a raise is personal. So every month, she leaves 5 spots open on her calendar for a free initial consultation. Once a month, she asks this same group who is ready to work with her privately and invites them to this no-hassle consultation. She books all 5 appointments effortlessly. On that 30 minute call, she equips the prospect with at least one tactic they can use to suss out the possibility of getting a raise.

Finally, she follows up and asks if they’d like to book her Get That Raise coaching package. She offers to guide them through the next 6 weeks so that they’ve got a helping hand for each part of the process. She can’t guarantee a raise, but she can guarantee they’ll feel really good about the procedure.

Each part of Amy’s process has helped to build the prospects’ trust in herself. She’s taken action and already gotten results. Now it’s just an easy assessment of risk (what risk?!) to determine whether the information she has makes her feel good about working with Amy. Does she trust herself enough to really make use of this? Of course! She already has.

Sale closed.

Now it’s your turn.

How will you ask your audience to act, experiment, and commit in order to build their trust in themselves? There’s likely something you could do today. So do it!

Do What Works for You But Make Sure It’s Really Working

Resistance often sounds like strategy: I’m doing what works for me.

You push away tactics, techniques, ideas, or strategies that push your comfort zone, challenge your personal status quo, or feel a little too “real” because what you’ve been doing has succeeded to a point.

But I’ve seen the insides of too many businesses that seemed like they were “working” and I’ve guided too many entrepreneurs through reviewing what’s “worked” in the past to take your word for it when you tell me you’re doing what works for you.

Resistance often sounds like strategy. Make sure what's working for you is really working.

You don’t know it’s really working until you can measure it and track it.

Of course, the easiest way to measure something’s effectiveness is to try doing something different than you’ve always done in the past.

First, you need a way to measure the effectiveness of something. “Feeling” like it’s working isn’t enough. How many leads are coming in? How many deals are you closing? How many people are buying from each email newsletter you send out?

Next, you need to try something different. If you feel like your “Work with Me” website page is performing well, look back over your books and determine how many inquiries and how many sales you’ve had from that page over the last month or so. Then, create a new version of that page. Maybe you reduce the copy, change the headline, or experiment with a new inquiry system.

For the next month, track your inquiries and sales again. Which is better?

As many others have said, “Hope is not a strategy.” You can hope that what feels comfortable is really working for you; but until you measure your success and try something different, you just don’t know.

Yes, determining what’s really going to work takes, well, work. But when that work translates into greater leverage, more time, and greater revenue, you’ll thank yourself for it.

The Real Way to Create a Sense of Urgency in Your Sales Conversations

Creating urgency for your product or service isn’t about telling people there’s a limited time to buy. It’s not about how many seats are left in your workshop. It’s not about an early bird discount or an arbitrary deadline.

Urgency is about need.

If you want people to feel a sense of urgency for buying your product or service, you need to know why they need it now.

You've been thinking about urgency all wrong

People don’t need things now because they’d might like to learn more about what you teach. They don’t need things now because they’re pretty or you’re so excited about them. They don’t need things because they’d like to speak their truth and connect with their inner spark.

People need what you’ve created now because they’re ending a 10-year relationship and want to be intentional about what they’re creating next. They need it now because they’re sick and tired of opening their closets and not having a clue what to put on their bodies. They need it now because they wake up every morning still feeling exhausted and they’re beyond ready to make a change. They need it now because they’re completely over holding back their ideas in meetings and watching others take credit for their work.

Urgency is absolutely the key to selling more of what you’re putting out into the world.

But it’s not based on numbers or time. Sure, those things help people make a decision. Ultimately, however, people buy now because they’ve reached a point of no return. They can’t help but search for a solution to their need and start using the one they find.

Listen. Observe. Know why people need what you’ve made now.

Then tell them you understand. Tell them the stories you know are playing out in their lives right now. Show them the vision you have for them and how your product will take them from the urgency their already feeling into a brand new day.

Create a sense of urgency by respecting your customers’ needs and they’ll respond by buying—now.

Do You Have a Sandwich Problem?

Vision plus hustle doesn’t equal results.

Every day I see business owners with lofty visions and hardcore hustle fail to get traction and reach their goals. They’ve got big ideas and aspirations and they’re putting in lots of hours, but growth is stalled.

If that sounds familiar, you’re in good company. This problem is something that micro, small, large, and even enterprise businesses run into.

Do you have a sandwich problem in your business?

Nilofer Merchant, in her book The New How, defines this problems as an “Air Sandwich.” She writes:

An Air Sandwich is, in effect, a strategy that has clear vision and future direction on the top layer, day-to-day action on the bottom, and virtually nothing in the middle — no meaty key decisions that connect the two layers, no rich chewy center filling to align the new direction with new actions within the company.

In your business, this likely manifests as feeling out of touch exactly how your hustle translates into results. You feel a little (or a lot) fuzzy about what you should be focusing on and what really counts. You spend quite a bit of time seeing what “works” but what works doesn’t seem replicable, sustainable, or capable of building true momentum.

To solve your sandwich problem, you need to commit.

Strategy, as I explain in my newest book, is all about making decisions. And decisions require you to say “yes” to one thing, and “no” to something else. They require you to commit to a direction and plan of action.

Between vision and hustle are the strategic decisions you make about What You Want to Create and How You Want to Connect with customers. These are things you try willy nilly, they’re things you commit to, lean in to. They guide your day-to-day action and bring your business closer to its goals.

If you’re feeling like your business has a sandwich problem, ask yourself where you’ve been avoiding commitment.

Where are your opportunities to make key decisions about how to reach your goals, not just what you need to do on a daily basis to stay afloat?

And what’s been keeping you from making a commitment to a more productive direction?

“Look At Me” Versus “Look At You”

This marketing strategy lesson took me forever to learn.

Once I did, everything became easier. Product development was easier. Marketing was easier. Sales was easier. Heck, even management was easier.

It might be the number one mistake I see idea-driven, passionate business owners making. It’s the main thing that keeps them from having productive sales conversation or gaining real traction with their marketing efforts.

And, it’s a major contributor to time wasted.

Your differentiating factor isn't the compelling reason to buy. But the benefit of your differentiating factor likely is.

What is it? It’s a focus on “look at me” instead of “look at you.”

It’s natural to feel like you have to prove to your prospects that your business is the best solution for them. So you list credentials, you talk up the merits of your book, program, or product, you go on & on about the quality of your materials. But all that misses the point.

People don’t buy because what you do is awesome.

People buy because it makes them feel awesome.

(Whatever the unique brand of awesome is that you’re selling.)

Here’s the painful example from my own business: for years, I tried to prove that everything I did in my business was deeper, more substantive, more foundational than what everyone else was teaching. And, I tried to convince people that that was what they really needed: deeper, more substantive, and more foundational strategy.

They weren’t buying. I mean sure, I had a calendar of full of clients, people read my books, etc… but it wasn’t easy. I was working too hard for every new prospect and every sale. Traction was elusive.

Then I figured it out. The reason people bought (literally) into my work wasn’t because it was more substantive, it was because…

  • My quest to go deeper in my work mirrored their quest to go deeper in their own work.
  • My need to figure out why things worked helped them avoid getting sucked into the marketing advice vortex.
  • My ambition to continually pursue a more complete understanding of my subject matter meant that they could relax.
  • And, finally, my focus on strategy over formulas meant they could make more money, work less, and impact more people without constantly having to rely on new tricks or tactics.

What matters to my people is: their own work, their own time & space, their sanity–and the big ones, more money, less work, and more impact. Is that what matters to you?

That’s why people buy. My customers buy not because what I offer is awesome (and it is) but because it makes them feel awesome.

The Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development says your differentiating factor isn’t the compelling reason to buy. But the benefit of your differentiating factor likely is.

If you’ve been following along with my CreativeLive bootcamp, Build a Stand-out Business, you’ve likely been spending a lot of time thinking about what the differentiating factor (your Unfair Advantage, your voice, your vision, etc… ) is for your business. Don’t stop there.

Don’t stop until you know how your differentiating factor leads your customers to more money, more time, better relationships, better health, etc… If you can’t boil it down to a simple, tangible benefit like that, you’re not done. What your customers truly care about is quite simple.

You have to listen to what people really want. You need to use their words, not yours. And, when the benefit they really want (more money, more time, better relationships, better health, etc…) sounds like what “everyone else is offering” push past your discomfort with that. In many ways, what you’re offering is the same as what everyone else is offering. Embrace that. Then use your unique process, point of view, voice, or advantage to differentiate.

When you push past the discomfort that what everyone else is selling is exactly what you’re selling too, you can finally get to a place where leveraging your difference really comes in handy.

Don’t tell people about what they’ll learn by working with you, tell them what they’ll be able to do differently and how that ultimately creates the benefit they desire. Don’t tell people about the quality and craftsmanship of your product, tell them how they’ll feel when they use it and how that leads to the core benefit they’re after.

Start with the “Look at you:”

  • You feel more energetic and have better relationships with your kids.
  • You feel more professional and speak out more in meetings–you really earned that raise.
  • You feel more confident, put out a great offer, and doubled your revenue.

Now, in each of these scenarios, the solution that made this happen (your solution) isn’t the first thing the customer has tried. They’ve been scratching this itch for quite a while, possibly their whole lives. This is where your differentiating factor comes in.

Add the “Look at me” to show why your solution is different:


“Look at you” marketing strategy can change the very way you do business.

Take a look at your website, your social media, your sales copy. Is the emphasis on how great your product or service is? Or is the emphasis on the simple but profound benefit your customers are actually looking for? My guess is there’s a lot more of the former and a lot less of the latter.

Make adjustments accordingly. Then reap the benefit.

How to Market Your Business When You’d Rather Be Listening More Than Talking

Some of us have the gift of gab. Others have an aptitude for acuity.

For those who would rather be listening, taking it all in, and gathering information, marketing your business can seem especially challenging. The same old tactics that work for those who have no problem talking, broadcasting, and sharing what they do openly, don’t necessarily work for those who actually connect best with others quietly.

While challenging, marketing actually holds a huge opportunity for listeners.

When you market your business as a listener, you can show your customers you really understand them, see them, and have the ability to help them.

How to market your business when you'd rather be listening more than talking

Marketing is connecting.

Marketing does not equal promotion. Of course, reading most information on marketing today, you’d never know that. Marketing is a nuanced and complex aspect of business—but it boils down with making connections with prospective customers, nurturing those connections into relationships with your brand, and then formalizing that relationship with a sale.

We all have different ways of connecting. Some people do really well on stage or at a networking event. Others do really well telling stories or relating one-to-one. As a listener, you have a unique set of conditions for connection.

Me? I’m an observer. I’d actually prefer to watch and listen, instead of participating. I observe until I have something to say; and, when I finally do have something to say, I prefer to do it with a platform—a stage, an email list, an interview. I pretty much hate not being in charge. #truestory

You might do really well in personal, intimate exchanges. You might take more of a therapist’s role, asking probing questions and formulating your insights over time. Or you might intuitively perceive the situation and be able to respond quickly.

This quality of listening and gathering substance is what Sally Hogshead calls Mystique, one of the 7 triggers of fascination in the Fascination Advantage System.

In the year I’ve been testing my clients using Sally’s system, I’ve noticed that at least 1/3 of the people I work with test high for Mystique. That means that they carefully curate their communication, are highly observant, and tend to work independently. They read between the lines, maintain composure when things get intense, communicate with purpose, and find insight where others don’t.

Sally writes, “Mystique [personalities] might not dominate the conversation, but they can dominate the winner’s circle.”

Does that sound like you? I can assure you you’re in good company.

Marketing is listening, too.

The key to creating compelling marketing as a listener is to actually put all that great listening and perception to good use.

Mirror back your customers’ experiences. Acknowledge their pain or frustration. Reflect back to them their sincere aspirations. And do this anywhere you want to show up: Facebook, your blog or email list, Instagram, your sales pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc….

Demonstrate that you’ve been listening.

In many ways, marketing as a listener is about (creating and) holding space. When you market as a listener, you’re creating a container for others experiences. Your website, your social media, and the experiences you create can each hold space for how your customer is experiencing the world.

Heather Plett (who may or may not appreciate me making this connection) recently wrote about holding space—in a listening-as-marketing blog post that went completely viral:

A wise space holder knows when to withhold guidance (ie. when it makes a person feel foolish and inadequate) and when to offer it gently (ie. when a person asks for it or is too lost to know what to ask for).

What you do as a marketer should empower the people you’re marketing to. The solutions you create should allow your customers to trust themselves. The sales conversations you enter into—whether leveraged through email marketing or made intimate through one-to-one conversation—should give your customers the power.

When your customers feel their own power—and have the space to exercise it—they will be more focused on what you are offering them.

Who are expert listeners-as-marketers?

Danielle LaPorte has amassed a large community of followers by channeling the white hot truth she perceives beyond the inner thoughts of her audience. If you think of her as a digital priestess, it’s because that kind of leadership comes from perception, not control.

Seth Godin posts on his blog every day. But every day, it’s an insight that resonates deeply with the experience of the people who populate his world. His mantra of product development—“Here, I made this for you.”—is a testament to the opportunity listeners have.

Tina Fey (my spirit animal) is also a listener and perceiver. Watch 5 minutes of 30 Rock or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and you’ll see just how much she’s been listening. Joke after joke, reference after reference, she packs her comedy full of always smart, sometimes wacky perception.

Finally, StitchFix is a great example of a business that uses listening as its key marketing and value proposition. There was a running joke at CreativeLive that anytime someone would ask where part of my outfit had come from it was StitchFix. StitchFix is a personal styling service that sends you 5 items about once a month personally picked for you. You fill out a style profile, link your stylist to your Pinterest board, and send them notes about what you want or need (my recent box was geared to my trip to Cancun next week for What If Conference).

With each box, you give your stylist more feedback so they get better at selecting your pieces. I’ve been incredibly impressed by what I’ve been sent. I feel understood—and a bit challenged. Which has led to some fun new articles of clothing in my closet!

Listening is an advantage.

In today’s commercial era, those who prefer to listen rather than talk are at a distinct advantage. You might not be able to follow all the same “rules” as the talkers, but combine your unique makeup with creative thinking and you have a recipe for truly successful marketing.

The next time you feel pressured to say something about your business, your launch, or your product take a minute to consider what you’ve perceived all this time you’ve been listening and use it to hook the attention of the people who truly matter.


P.S. If you’d like to learn more about marketing your business on your unique strengths (your Quiet Power), check out my bootcamp–Build a Stand-out Business–on CreativeLive. From March 23-April 24, it’s broadcasting FREE. Tune in now!