Why is it when you major in physics, interior design, law, health care…really anything but Sales….you are not trained in sales.  No matter what we do – we have to be able to sell.  Maybe not a product or service, if you want a job..even if you just want to get married …you still need to know how to sell yourself.

Well, here is the scoop.

If you have something – a service, a product (or yourself) that can improve the quality of life for someone else, you have a moral obligation to put it (you) out into the world and do everything you need to do to bring it to the awareness of those who can use it (you).

If you don’t have a way of conveying the value of what you have to share…or a way to get the information of the value to those who could benefit, then it is wasted.  Your business suffers and so do all the people who you have not reached.

So, what do you do?  How do you get your spectacular share out there?

I can remember a knife salesperson who came to our house to sell us….knives.  She was a friend of our son’s.  She was a high school student and she was just starting- she called and asked if she could practice on us.  She told us that we both had strong sales backgrounds and she would really value our feedback.  We said sure, come on over.

She came in with her little flip book and impressive selection of beautiful, strong, quality knives.  She sat down at our kitchen table and instead of carrying on a conversation with us, she took out her book, flipped through it and read it word for word.  When she finished she asked us to buy a set of these beautiful knives for $1,278.00.  We already had a set of knives that had a lifetime warranty and were very good quality.

They taught her not to take no for an answer.  You close a sale 3 times…wear them down.

She offered to sell us the knives for $875.00.  The offer would not be available at this price ever again…after tonight.

Well, it would have been a great deal if we didn’t already have a set.  By this point it was obvious that we weren’t just there to help her practice.  …and…we really did not need a set of knives.

Okay, she said, normally she wasn’t allowed to reduce the price this low, but she really needed a sale and she would sell them to us for $485.00.  She would give up her commission because she really thought we should have them and she needed the sales volume for the end of the month.

She left with her head hanging in failure.  I wanted to do something for her…but buying a set of knives was not what she needed.

This whole thing was wrong on many levels.  Sure, there are a lot of companies that operate this way…and the numbers show that is how it should be done.  That is probably right if you are filling the position  with a high school girl who is in the working arena for the first time and doesn’t have any strong feeling one way or another over whether these knives are going to do anything for anyone besides her, to pay her college book fees.

Do you remember ever working with a product you didn’t care about?  Health coaches are lucky in that regard.  We have passion going for us.

What could have happened differently?

#1  Qualify Your Leads

Know who you are selling to. Just so you know, calling someone to find out if they will help you with your sales talk is not qualifying.  It is dishonest.  Qualified means they are qualified to buy…not that they are qualified to take up your time.

If you are a health coach who works with baby boomers…know them.  Know everything about them.  If you are selling vitamix blenders, you don’t advertise to children.  If you are selling a vitamix…you don’t try to sell it to someone who just bought one yesterday.

Ask questions, know your customer and you don’t waste your time or your advertising money trying to sell to someone who doesn’t need or want what you have.  The better you qualify your customer the better your time will be spent.

Sell your weight loss program to people who want to lose weight.  Find out who they are, where they hang out, what are the feelings connected to what you are selling…and when you find them, ask them questions.  Talk to them…MOSTLY…listen to them.  If you REALLY listen to them, you will know what need it is that you can fill…and how you can best do that.  You picked a good profession, you are a health coach….most of civilization needs you desperately.

#2  Tell the truth.

If you are going to sell them something.  For goodness sake, tell them.  If you want to give them something first…give it to them, but don’t tell them that is the purpose of your meeting, your webinar, your visit.  Tell them what you have for them.  They aren’t stupid (unless you are like me and think someone really wants the benefit of your experience)….eventually they find out why you called them there….and it doesn’t instill trust.  If your product or service that you are going to change the world with is so great…why do you have to mislead?  Why can’t you just tell them what is so special about what you have…and skip over the unrelated lure?  Not everyone agrees…but my feeling is, if what you have isn’t good enough…make it good enough, find a way to convey it’s meaning in a way that you don’t need to open with anything but it’s merits.

#3  Don’t push with price.

Starting at one price and reducing it to close 3 times…leaves a bad taste in the mouth.  What if I would have purchased it at the first price…would she have let me pay 3 times the lowest price she can sell it for?  That is just wrong.  Sell on the needs of the customers, the features of the product and the benefits for your customer.  That is what is important.  I can tell you, after years and years of working with people…they pay what they need (as long as they can truly afford it …and sometimes even when they can’t)…to get what they want.  There is nothing wrong with running a sale – but do it honestly and not as a stick to prod them into buying.

#4  Don’t sell people what they don’t need.

It will cost you more money to sell someone  a vitamin that they are getting in their daily meals…than to say “hey, I can see you don’t need this”…and move on.  Believe me, people remember.

They remember when you did something right and come back to you in 5 years and buy a 12 month program or with a corporate wellness contract that is $25,000 –  because they remember the time you could have sold them something that they didn’t need…and you didn’t do it.  They remember a lot longer though, if you do sell them something they don’t need and they find out.  Not only do they never buy anything from you again…they will tell 100 people not to buy anything from you again.  You never know how much you lose, but I bet it is more than that corporate wellness contract.

Business ethics, as in life…holds everything together and give you pride in what you do.  If you know for a fact that someone can not afford something that will not give them enough value to merit hardship…for heavens sake, don’t sell it.  On the other side of that…never, ever assume or insinuate that is the case.  Years in business have also taught me it is not the people with the nice houses and the fancy cars that are flush with spendable income.

#5  Don’t be afraid to help people.

That is what we do.  Getting paid for what you do is what keeps you in the position to help people.  Getting paid a fair amount for what you do creates value.

#6  Don’t be attached to the sales result.

Do not go into a transaction with a # in mind.  Go into a transaction with your customer in mind.  What is the best way you can fill their needs.  That is it. Pretty simple.  No push, no shove, no fibs, just good, honest transfer of one thing from one person that can improve the life of the other.

To health coaches who use their health histories to sell a program…if you feel comfortable with that, go for it.  Here is something you can do that works better than advertising a “FREE HEALTH HISTORY”…try Sign Up for a FREE  Health History and Find Out How I Can Help You Change Your Life….then when you get to the end of the health history and you are supposed to be closing on a 6 month program….you don’t feel swarmy.  The other thing…don’t go into the health history thinking you are going to sell them a 6 month program…go into it thinking “I am going to listen, then I will suggest the right course of action”.  If you are doing all of this online, lay out the facts, the options and who the program is for and who this program is not for.  People respect you for being honest and forthcoming.  You respect yourself and it is all friendlier, easier and ego free.

You will do well as long as:

  • you listen
  • you ask questions
  • know what their need is
  • repeat what they say, so they know you know
  • then fill it

Sales should not be difficult.  When we go to buy something…we are there because there is a need.  If someone can fill that need – GREAT!  Most people do not buy on price, they buy on what you have to offer.  Remember that and give it the best you have.

Leave a comment below.  Share your experiences with sales …we can learn from each other.





  1. Paula M. Youmell, RN, MS, CHC

    Thanks so much for this post Cathy. Very timely as I just, 30 minutes ago, had a frustrated conversation with another local healer about money and getting paid what we are worth. I am going to forward this on to her. Blessings, Paula

  2. Michelle

    Thank you for infusing this advice with ETHICS. Wow. The old-school story of the knife salesperson is just sad.

  3. Theresa Corbett

    Thank you for this post!!! have a great day!!

  4. Susie Mordoh

    I whole heartedly believe that women make better salespeople simply because we are better listeners. Great post Cathy!

  5. Cathy

    I’ve just recently learned about the concept of the sales conversation – while I see (and hear on the phone) so many people approaching it as a formula, in fact, it’s an art.

    The point that really hits home is the last one. I’ve yet to have many opportunities to try out my new skills, but I’ve felt enough to know that going into the call with a specific sale in mind is disheartening, both for the coach and the person you’re trying to help.

    One woman ended up signing up for a single session after much arm-wrestling during/after our sales call. Once we’d met, she booked the rest of the package I’d been pushing her towards, because she “thought she wouldn’t like me”. Moral: be yourself, and the right sales will happen as they should.

  6. Sue

    This is a great post with many lessons. Integrity is so important. I love the point about listening. If they just bought one, they don’t need another no matter what the price. As a holistic healer, I often struggle with how and what packages and programs to offer. You post is helpful and I will keep it in mind as I forge ahead!

  7. Cathy

    Cathy, great story! I left that part out…sometimes people just need to feel comfortable with you. Time helps…that and not being in sales mode…good point.

  8. Krystal Bernier

    I love these tips, especially because sales isn’t my strongest area, and I had a similar experience to you. A lady coerced herself into making dinner for my husband and I so she could show off her cookware and “collaborate” with me to work together and grow each other’s businesses. Turned out she really just wanted to sell us a set of pots/pans, that we didn’t need. I have been collecting a certain brand for the last 5 years and I’m very happy with them. She also left with her head hanging low, and leaving a bad taste in our mouths about her product. We never did “collaborate” together and after her visit I don’t think I would have wanted to.
    Even when I was younger and working in retail I never pushed a sale if it wasn’t right for my customer, I always told them the truth, and I usually sold more because people appreciated my honesty and caring. I didn’t realize that what I was doing was good sales, I just thought I was being a good person 🙂

  9. Karen Yankovich

    Totally agree Cathy! Somehow as a society we’ve created this belief that sales is bad, and to be good you have to learn to be the typical”used car salesman”. That’s simply not true. My experience with sales is that if you can connect, have a conversation, and really get to understand how and if you can help, you’re establishing the basis for your sales funnel.

  10. Lisa

    Cathy, wow, this was great! Though you’d think some of these things go without reason I believe we all need to be continually reminded so we don’t become jaded and inconsiderate. The focus needs to be on the customer and their needs and desires first and always.

    But speaking of knives and not needing them…how is it that those Ginzu infomercials always get me and some people are really good at getting you to believe you absolutely have to have something when most likely you don’t? Curious and would be really interested in seeing a blog post on it. Thanks!

  11. Lisa Story

    Great post! I had no idea that I would need to understand marketing when I became a health coach. Totally naive on my part! I love what I do…and I have changed the way I look at marketing or selling…although it has not been easy. I very rarely do an initial health history session for free. Once I started charging for the session (and I do charge less than a program session) I felt way better about it and potential clients seem to view it differently. BTW…I could have written that knife story!!! Only it was my friend’s daughter and it was the slimiest, yuckiest sales experience ever. I won’t call out the company, but I assure you I know those knives. Sadly, I was duped by her cute little binder and because I wanted to help her…the next time she came around…I ran for the hills.

  12. Cynthia Djengue

    Yes, this is so true. We get attached to outcomes rather than the process. We become better at the process when we are less attached to outcomes. It takes the right mentor/teachers as well as consistent practice!

  13. Johanna

    Powerful! I love how you stated “If you have something – a service, a product (or yourself) that can improve the quality of life for someone else, you have a moral obligation to put it (you) out into the world and do everything you need to do to bring it to the awareness of those who can use it (you).” Could not agree with you more! I needed to hear this. Thanks!

  14. Teresa Kelly

    As a chiropractor, one of my biggest regrets is only focusing on science during my college days and not on the business end of things. You have to know how to sell yourself once you graduate, patients don’t just show up once you get your degree. Thanks for the great explanation of how to sell yourself in an ethical and simple way!


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