How to Sell Without Being Sleazy


By Michael Port, Guest Writer

We’ve all been bullied into buying something we have no need for. This leaves us with a bad taste and turns “sales” into a sleazy word. So when it comes to your small business trying to sell more, do you find yourself tiptoeing around closing the sale?

The thing is (and it admittedly seems a little obvious to say it out loud) that if you’re sales conversions, your small business isn’t going to make money. You need to sell more to make more money. But here’s the good news: if you know how to sell with integrity, you can render your brand, business and yourself completely authentic.

Here are 5 steps to getting out of the sleaze zone and into making more sales, more revenue and raking in the results.

Step 1: Consistency

One of the main reasons someone doesn’t buy a product or service is because they don’t trust that it will do as promised. Or they don’t trust you … yet.

Take consistent actions to curb the lack of trust. Try publishing a blog at the same time on certain days or sending out newsletters once a week, for example. Show up when you say you’re going to show up. Do what you say you’re going to do.

Take action: decide on an area your small business can commit to being consistent. Stick to it for at least six months to gain the trust of your customers.

Step 2: Relationships

If you want to sell more, you need to first focus on relationships. Be loyal to people, they’re more likely to become customers. Get loyal customers, you’re more likely to get more loyal customers.

Take action: spend time on the social media channels where your customer is hanging out on. Offer free advice and tips. Be useful. Look for opportunities to engage and genuinely get to the people you’re forming relationships with.

Opportunities to help your customers include:
•If you see someone on social media struggling with something you can help with, offer help.
•Ask specific questions at the end of a blog post to garner response and engagement, and to find out what it is that people need to hear from you so that you can give it to them.

Step 3: Follow Up

80 percent of sales, apparently, are closed in the fifth follow-up call or email, but the majority of business owners fail to make those follow ups. A follow-up doesn’t need to be pushy. You can simply check on the progress of your lead since you last communicated.

Take action: put it in your calendar right now to follow up on one lead a day. Watch how just five minutes a day can lead to more sales conversions.

Step 4: Know (I mean REALLY know) the Benefits Of Your Service

It’s critical that you know exactly who will and won’t benefit from your product or service. Trying to sell more to someone who isn’t a match for your offering is pure sleaze. Many a small business makes the mistake of trying to help everyone, and that’s the first step to confusing your market and selling bicycles to fish.

Take action: write a single sentence down using the below structure. This will help you articulate who you’re offering will benefit the most. If you’re ever in doubt when you’re trying to gain more conversions, refer to this statement and you’ll remain in the sleaze-free selling zone.

Statement: (name of service or product) was designed to help (target market) who are struggling with (something your prospects will pay to change).

Step 5: Set Clear Goals And Boundaries

Often successful business owners start wondering if they’ve hit that sleaze zone when they come across one or two clients who aren’t getting results, and they start with the self-doubt about whether they’re selling hot air and empty promises.

Let’s be clear: it’s your duty to deliver what you say you will so your customers can take the information and resources you provide and create results. It’s not (always or necessarily) your job to ENSURE that the customer holds up their end of the bargain.

Write down what you’re going to deliver so you know what you need to promise in your sales communication. One of the biggest reasons sales feel slimy is when the promise doesn’t match the result.

Take action: avoid being that slime ball and make sure you have your quota straight. Know exactly what you’re going to be delivering. That way you will promise something authentic and enjoy more sales conversions.

What to Expect

Small business owners who are serious about applying these 5 strategies can enjoy being able to sell more and rake in more money. You’ll also feel better about communicating what you have to offer, while staying out of the sleaze zone.


  • Michael has written 4 bestselling books including Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid, The Contrarian Effect, and The New York Times Bestseller, The Think Big Manifesto. He appears regularly on MSNBC and CNBC. Michael has been called an “uncommonly honest author” by the Boston Globe and a “marketing guru” by The Wall Street Journal. His mission is to rally big thinkers—prospective, potential, wildly in-motion, and particularly bashful up-and-comers. Michael stands at the forefront of a movement of people who are starting personal, professional, societal and spiritual revolutions. Want to join him? Email Michael at

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