A lot of folk seem squeamish about selling their products and services. Not everyone – some are naturals, others have had practice. But when the moment comes, even many salesfolk hesitate to push for the sale.

I think this hits entrepreneurs of all kinds.

They're clear on what they offer.

They believe in what they do.

Still, when that moment comes, they don't ask for the sale. They hope the prospect makes that leap for them.

You see this with digital marketing, too. A flood of useful content – emails, videos, articles, whatever – without even trying to sell.

Ask anyone who does this why and they'll give you a reasonable answer:

I want to offer value.

I don't want to seem salesy, corporaty or greedy.

It'll drive off prospects.

Right now, I'm focused on building the relationship.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Except that's rarely the real reason.

The reason is it's more comfortable to say a lot without asking for the sale.

To write emails with intriguing subjects, engaging bodies but no call to action.

And then someone comes along with a plausible excuse – “not asking for the sale builds the relationship!” – and folk fall into line.

Whether or not it's true.

Well, I guess it does build a relationship. But what kind of relationship do you want?

Do you want them to see you as an enthusiastic hobbyist, or a professional?

A curiosity, or someone who can solve problems?

A leader in your field, or a needy child?

Professionals sell things while building the relationship. Each reinforces the other. Don't believe me? Think about how often folk joke about Apple being a modern cult. Their fans love their products – they love them.

And, well, Apple knows how to ask for the sale …

And they also know how to build a relationship of admiration, maybe even loyalty.

Is that something you want for your business? Instead of clients, you have loyal fans?

What would that do for your impact on the world, let alone your bottom line?

The best email marketers do this. Folk on their list look forward to their emails. There are a few email legends who I eagerly devour the moment they cross into my inbox.

It's not hard to spot the difference between them and everyone else churning out spam:

The legends are entertaining.

Their personality shines through so brightly, it's deafening. Yes, I know I mixed metaphors there and I stand by it. They are deafeningly bright.

They offer enough value to let you justify reading them. Sure, they're fun … but it's educational fun, see?

And then they ask for the sale.

Usually a literal sale – click this link and buy this thing.

Sometimes the call to action is something else, like fill out this survey. But usually it's to take money from their readers and line their pockets with it.

Because that's what professionals, no matter the industry, do.

(You can't help anyone if you close up shop.)

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