Three Unique Approaches to Sales for Solopreneurs

Three Unique Approaches to Sales for Solopreneurs

As you plan your online business, at some point you’ll need to think about how you’re going to develop a relationship with your site visitors.

Once you’ve established that relationship and are ready to sell, aim to break down the concept of selling into three general types…

Let’s break down the concept of selling into three general types…

  1. catalog style selling
  2. consultative selling
  3. relationship selling

The good news is that all three selling styles work for most businesses. See if you can find your business in this description, and then test new and different sales techniques to improve your bottom line.

Catalog Style

Ever flip through a catalog like it was a wish book, circling the fun toys you wanted as if by doing so the stuff would magically appear at your door?

The pictures were perfect. The little bursts of descriptive text with each item made you want the products NOW.

Enormous amounts of research have gone into catalog sales. Marketers have tested

  • images of products, 
  • what to write about the products (including how much and how little to say),
  • what kinds of paper the catalogs should be printed on, 
  • how many items to show on a page, 
  • what to charge for each item
  • and so many other details!

What you see in a catalog has been tested and proven to work to get you to buy what’s in that book.

Super-mega web sellers have taken the catalog model and run with it, incredibly successfully. How often do you visit catalog sites to buy that new novel, just the right gift or that cool t-shirt? You know to go to the site because they’re familiar to you. You know the name of the site and you don’t have to look it up in a search engine. You shop there. Your friends shop there. You see their ads everywhere, as if they were chasing you down. You don’t ever remember not shopping there.

In a moment I’m going to show you how to use this powerful type of selling on your site. But first, let’s talk about two other selling methods that are far more personal and might seem harder to develop.

Consultative Style

No matter what you sell, from sewing notions to accounting services to fly fishing equipment, if you have something to sell you are a consultant to your potential clients.

Build your business accordingly!

Teach your clients all you can about what you do and how you do it.

  • What kind of fabric did you use in that pillow and what does it feel like to touch? 
  • What accounting method do you use for small businesses and how much money did you save your clients last year with it? 
  • How did you catch that big fish and what equipment did you use?

Always think about what you can give to your site visitors. What valuable information can you teach him about your product or service?

Share about the stitch you used on the pipping on the pillow seam. Write about the fly you tied to catch that rainbow trout. Show pictures, or make a how-to video.

On your web page you can show places to purchase the materials you’re teaching about. Sell your video course or ebook on the page (or link to a sales page or order page). Refer to your teaching materials somewhere in your how-to article.

Be the expert.

Don’t overdo it! In the consultative selling method you’re an instructor. You teach. Remember that 50% of this sales style is “selling”, so always keep in mind the ABCs of sales… “Always Be Closing”!

Teach. Lead. Sell.

Relationship Style

So far we’ve talked about selling products online like a catalog, and establishing your authority in your market. So far, it’s all about you. Talk talk talk talk talk! That’s so old school.

Invite your site visitors to talk and share about their experiences with you and your products or services. Did you find a great tax loophole for a client? Interview her! Publish the video on your site. Let her show off her business, while you get great information to share on your site.

What do you think would happen if you did that a few times (or 10 times or 100 times)?

Let your customers rave about you, or share their stories, or talk about their experiences in their fields (which are likely related to yours) in various formats both on an off your site. Integrate just the right social networks (we talk about how in other articles in this blog). Let them comment on your site. Give them spaces for feedback.

Your relationship building efforts will build good will and will go a long way in establishing you as the expert in your field, too.

Now let’s talk about using all three methods on one site, so you can dominate your market!

One Site. Three Sales Styles. One Successful Business.

Let’s tie it all together.

Using all three of these methods on one site is pretty easy, but you’re not going to build this empire overnight. It will take time and work.

(You’re ok with a little work, right?) 😉

The best way to start most businesses online is as a consultant. Share with authority on your topic. Create a lot of content on your site (to start) and even publish some articles on others’ sites as well (after you’ve taken care of your site first!

Let’s say you’ve written enough articles to build a moderately impressive base. It would take a visitor more than a few minutes to read all of your articles and she might even bookmark your site to return because there are articles she hasn’t read yet that will be useful to her later.


Now, depending on your business, you can add the relationship or the store selling feature.

Selling hard goods you’ll want to add your store, but as soon as possible you’ll need to add relationship selling techniques.

Selling services you’ll want to add your relationship selling techniques, but add the catalog approach soon after.

Using the relationship selling idea in hard goods, you can…

  • interview people who have used your products
  • ask for reviews of or comments about your products
  • collect customer-submitted pictures of people using your products

All of these techniques help to establish your credibility and help your site visitors to feel comfortable with you. After all, in the relationship style of sales, you’re letting your friends talk about you. This method can be a great way to get referrals to new customers… customers you may not have met otherwise!

What if the relationship selling method is clear, but you’re not sure about using the catalog method of selling? You sell a service, or teach in a particular topic, so there really isn’t a catalog of items to sell.

Ah… but yes there is!

Our accountant can offer a menu of services. Set these up catalog-style with an image associated with each service.

Our fly fishing guide can set up a page (or many pages) showing the best fly fishing gear, and customers can buy these right from the site. (You can use affiliate marketing or other methods to source these products — but you don’t have to carry inventory).

Our tailor can publish a catalog of categories of items created and take special orders from that page. The images are representative of possible custom orders.

The possibilities are endless!

In the end your site has an enormous amount of interesting content. Your site makes your human visitors happy, it makes the search engines happy — and when your people are happy and your search engine spiders are happy, you can be happy, too!

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Amy Biddle
Amy Biddle is Director of the Advisor Team for SiteSell. Amy lives in and works in a small RV, and explores marketing frontiers as well as the frontiers in the lower 48 states of the US.