Honest Selling Secrets: How to Be Good at Sales Without Compromising Your Ethics | Margo Aaron | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Honest Selling Secrets: How to Be Good at Sales Without Compromising Your Ethics

teacher avatar Margo Aaron, Recovering Academic, Accidental Marketer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (19m)
    • 1. Why You Think You Hate Sales

    • 2. Rule 1: The Problem/Solution Framework

    • 3. Rule 2: The Overly Chipper Effect

    • 4. Rule 3: Shut Up and Listen

    • 5. Rule 4: People Don't Like To Be Sold, They Love To Buy

    • 6. Rule 5: Sell to the Heart

    • 7. Rule 6: The Customer is Not a Moron

    • 8. Go Out and Sell Something (Badly) (Yes, Badly)

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

This course will help you overcome your barriers to self promotion and reshape your relationship to sales so you stop being intimidated by sales and start being GREAT at it (without feeling like a sleaze).

We’ll review the 6-rules of ethical selling and you’ll learn how to sell in a way that’s convincing, honest, and effective.

  • Rule 1: Match Their Problem With Your Solution
  • Rule 2: Talk to a Human Like a Human
  • Rule 3: Shut up and Listen
  • Rule 4: People Don’t Like to Be Sold, They Like to Buy
  • Rule 5: Sell to the Heart, Not to the Head
  • Rule 6: The Customer Isn’t A Moron, She’s Your Wife

This class is for anyone who wants get better at selling themselves or the products, services, and ideas they believe in.

Additional Materials / Resources:



  • To Sell is Human by Dan Pink (If you’ve ever wanted to sell with integrity, this is your book.)
  • Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuck (A book on selling in the connection economy, disguised as a social media book.)



Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Margo Aaron

Recovering Academic, Accidental Marketer


Margo Aaron is a former psychological researcher, copywriter, accidental marketer, and co-host of the YouTube talk show, “Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites,” named one of the Top 7 Marketing Shows of 2019 by Loomly.

Before launching her own marketing consultancy, Margo was a strategic planner behind major brand and shopper campaigns for companies like Starbucks, Evolution Fresh, Walmart, Georgia Pacific,  Bird’s Eye, Full Circle Home, Seattle’s Best, and Target.

Today, Margo teaches classes on modern marketing, ethical sales, and persuasive copywriting - including Honest Selling Secrets: How To Be Good At Sales Without Compromising Your Ethics (with over 3,603 students and over 125 positive reviews) and her M... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Why You Think You Hate Sales: So the most common question I get asked, when it comes to sales, persuasion and influence is how do you get someone to buy something that they don't want? How do you convince someone that they want the thing that you're selling? And the answer is you don't. And if you've been selling that way, then we got a lot to talk about today. Hi, I'm Margot Aaron, and I will be your instructor for honest selling secrets how to be good at sales without compromising your ethics. So my goal for this course is to get you to overcome your barriers to self promotion, to get comfortable with sales and to reshape your relationship toe what you think sales is now, If you're anything like me, my guess is that you think sales is really sleazy, really spammy, and that you need to be this pushy, smooth talker to be good at it. Kind of that old used car salesman stereotype. It turns out that's not true, that that stuff actually won't help you, and it won't make you good at sales. So a little bit about me, I don't actually have a background in business. I had to learn all of this myself. I started in academia. I started psychology specifically, and learning sales was one of the best things I was able to do for my career and also for my business, not to mention things like your marriage or your ability to get people to click on Twitter . So you know why Feels is relevant. Otherwise you wouldn't be taking this course. So what I'd like for you is to recognize how you think sales works is not actually how it works. And the more comfortable you can get with sales, the better you will be being able to solve people's problems and getting your ideas out in the world and to sell ethically without hating yourself in the morning. So I hope you join us in this course. Uh, we got a lot of good stuff in here, and I will see you down below 2. Rule 1: The Problem/Solution Framework: so most of us think of sales. We think of that used car salesman stereotype of someone who is like a smooth talker with a silver tongue who's really extroverted and really, really pushy, someone who is making you buy things that you don't want and driving you crazy. And part of the reason we have that stereotype is it's really all we've ever seen in books , movies, TV When you're walking down the mall and you see those people in those little bodegas, that's our image of sales. But that's not actually what works, and that's not actually sales. What sales is is matching someone's problem with your solution. So let me explain what this looks like. Let's say my problem is it's 3 p.m. And I'm hungry and I only have 10 minutes on my lunch break. And so my solution to this problem is a Twix bar. Let's just say, but just go with me here, okay? So the point is, it doesn't have to be a complicated or interesting problem. It just has to be a real one that the person that you are trying to reach has and so the reason you feel like you hate sales is there's a mismatch, often between the person you've targeted to sell and the thing that they actually need. So the hard work of all of this is finding people who actually have the problem you can solve. That's the real key when it comes to sales, because you should never actually be forcing someone to do something or buy something they don't want. You should find people who already want the thing. You just have to explain why they need it and how it solves their problem. 3. Rule 2: The Overly Chipper Effect: so there's a strange thing that happens. Any time you try and sell or promote something and it happens to all of us, it's what I call the overly chipper effect. It's when you're suddenly overcome with the need to be really, really, really excited about the thing that you're selling. I can't even do it right. But you know what I'm talking about because it's really freaking awkward. If you're sitting, let's say in front of a blank Facebook status and you want to ask people to share something , think about how you try and share it. Often you say, Hey, guys, I just promoted. I just wrote this piece. I'm really excited about it. I'd be so grateful if you shared it right. It comes off in that tone. That's not actually how we talk, and usually that's not actually how we feel about the piece. But it's what we've been trained to do is what we've been conditioned to dio because all we've ever seen, when it comes to sales and self promotion is that you sales car guy we talked about in the last video. So one way to dissipate the overly chipper effect and toe overcome the awkwardness that happens every time you try and promote something is to take a deep breath and talk to a person like a person that's deceptive, deceptively hard. See, I even messed up right there, and I'm keeping it in the video because I want you guys to see that being human is actually helpful in this context. For example, I'm actually selling you right now. I'm selling you on the idea that sales shouldn't be intimidating, that sales is something you can actually do and that it's not sleazy. And in order for you to believe me, I need you to view me as a person that you trust. I need you to connect with me. I think you need to relate to my story, and you need to believe the things that I'm saying, and that doesn't come from me being like, well rehearsed or overly formal. It comes from me being human, so this is a really difficult thing to do for anyone who's been trained in a different way of being, which is basically all of us. So in my case it was academia, right? You're trained to write a certain way. There's a lot of passive voice. There's a lot of using words you don't even understand because you want to sound more self important and smart and in in a corporate setting, it's kind of the same. You often are trying to sound overly formal, overly professional, and you're constantly trying to seem like you know what you're talking about. That's not actually ineffective sales method. One of the ways that we work is copy when you're talking about copyrighting, which is sales that you use in start sales. Writing for advertising is a really, really casual language. So language that sounds the way you talk. And that's super faux pas right when you're right, you're supposed to write more formally than you speak. But that's not actually true in sales. And that's not actually true when we're talking about the mechanics of connection, which is all wherever talking about when it comes to sales. So this is the reframe I want you to think about when we talk about the overly chipper affect, or if you ever feel like you're having to be something you're not in a sales conversation, there's always a person on the other end of the interaction whether it's a broadcast on on Facebook or you're doing a one on one sales call or like what we're doing right here, which, you know, technically, this is a broadcast. But I am thinking about the one person, one person on the other end of this right, because you're consuming this one at a time. None of you are consuming. This is a group, and even if you were there, one person you don't have a groupthink brain were all consuming things as people, as a person. And so the more I can connect to your humanity, the more that I can help you see me as a person, and I make you feel seen as a person, the more likely you are to listen to me and to pay attention to me. So talk like a human tree. People like people reduce the amount of formality in your tone and reduce the chipper nous . Just be riel. Just be normal annual increase, the likelihood of connection and better your ability to sell 4. Rule 3: Shut Up and Listen: So when I first started my own business, I was a real new when it came to business. I had been trained in an academic setting and only had a few years in a corporate business setting and then would sit down with prospects and not close any cells. And I didn't understand what was going on. I called a friend of mine to complain because obviously I was a genius and all of these prospects were idiots. And I explained this and my friend said, OK, hold on a second. Margo explained to me, I know what's going on. Walk me through your sales process, which was also the first time I've ever been asked that I didn't have a sales process. So I said, Well, listen, this is how this goes. I sit down with, um they say, you know, Hey, I run this business were struggling with leads. We're having this problem with branding and they'll, you know, talk for a few minutes and I'd be like OK, OK, sheesh! Let the experts speak. I know how to fix this, and then I would explain all the ways in which we were gonna fix it, how to fix it and it would become the Margaux show for, like, 45 minutes, and then they would leave. And then I would be like, Oh, I'm a genius. I should have just charged them for that because that was such a good session, and then they never called me back. And when I talk to my friend, he was like, Yeah, about that more go. That's not how sales works. And I was like, Okay, enlighten me, he said. Well, the first thing you need to dio is shut up. That was the first time anyone had ever said that to me in my mind, certainly the way I was trained, the more you talk, the smarter you are, right. You want to be the person in the meeting who is sharing their ideas, who's talking over others. That's how they train you. And certainly in academia, you know you want to come off the person who knows what they're talking about. So the currency there is to sound smart to sound like you have a solution. It's not actually to implement the solution, which is what sales is about, at least in a business setting and certainly in my setting. So what my friend said was, You need to listen. You need toe, listen and use toe ask questions. That first meeting that you ever have should always be the prospect talking more than you. So here's the strange psychology behind us when you can articulate someone's problem better than they can. They credit you with the solution. So think about that for a second. You don't actually have to tell someone how you solve the problem. You just have to explain that you understand that they have a problem and they immediately a credit you with the solution and that Onley can happen if you understand and listen to what their problem actually is, which happens when you shut up and ask questions. They don't have to be super impressive or interesting questions, just questions like What are you struggling with? Why do you have that problem? When did this start? You know, what have you done to try and fix it all these sort of basic things that you would have if you're curious about the person and actually listening and not so consumed with how you sound in the conversation. So a big part of this reframe is getting yourself out of your head and how you look and how your performing in the sales conversation and more about how you can actually help this person. So you have to shut up. You have to listen and you have to think about the other person. You want to help them. That's the goal here. That is the goal of the sales conversation. You want to connect with them and you want to help them, and in order to do that, you have to listen. 5. Rule 4: People Don't Like To Be Sold, They Love To Buy: so there's a strange contradiction when it comes to shopping. On the one hand, we really hate being sold. We hate that used car salesman. We hate being forced into a decision that we don't want to make or made to believe that we need something that we don't actually need. We can't stand it, But on the flip side, we love shopping. Think about when you find, like, the best pizza place in your town. You want to tell everyone about it. You want to make them go there and you become this like brand advocate for the place. And everyone who goes is actually really happy. You're excited to pay money for this thing. So we have this contradiction of hating, being sold. But loving to buy and they're in is Rule number four. People hate being sold, but love to buy, and here's the reason it has to do with the illusion of control. So when you're being sold, it feels like you're being forced to do something against your will. But when you're buying, you're in the driver seat, you're making a choice. You're saying, Hey, I value this thing and I choose to buy it the locus of control is within you. So when it comes to selling, you want the prospect that you're talking to, to feel like they're buying and not being sold. And your goal is to get the buyer to come to their own conclusion about why they should buy the thing that you are selling them. 6. Rule 5: Sell to the Heart: rule Number five is sell to the heart, not the head. And that's because we are emotional beings. Now you've heard people say this. You need to sell with emotion. You need toe use emotion in your copy. Nobody really knows what that means, So let me break it down for you. The reason you want to sell to the heart and not to the head is because we are not rational decision makers. As much as we'd all love to believe that we are logical and practical and rational when it comes to our buying behaviour, we are not. In fact, we actually choose really irrationally and then justify our choices with logic. So it's kind of why you will justify, let's say, a really expensive TV. You could make the argument that it is better sound quality, that it's better visual that it is a new investment piece that you'll have for a lot of years. But deep down when you really, really cut to the chase, the reason people buy something like that has more to do with, for example, wanting to be the guy that had that TV in their living room because you want to host, and you want to be associated with really nice things. And you want to be the guy that has the nice house and you want your friends to think that you're successful. That's the real reason. We tend to buy a lot of these things, this one in that example, that's called social forces. But there are all sorts of emotional drivers as to what drives are purchased behavior. So when you're in a south conversation or when you're promoting something, you will have more success if you appeal to someone's emotion. And if you appeal to their desires, not just to the logical reasons why you should buy something. 7. Rule 6: The Customer is Not a Moron: rule number six. The customer is not a moron. She's your wife. So that's a quote from famous admin David Ogilvy, who the madman character Don Draper was actually based off of. And what he meant when he said that was that there's a human being on the other side of this exchange and that human being could be your mom, your aunt, your wife, your daughter, your brother, your cousin, an actual person with hopes, fears, dreams, thoughts and feelings. And when you consider it in that context, when you condescend that person when you go in as a used car salesman with lots of hype and fluff and with the idea that you need to sail something and you need to make money, you actually lose your chance of winning that sale because the customer is not a moron. She's your wife. So imagine if you were talking to someone in real life that, you know, using that annoying sales Itoen or trying to take advantage of them, or a lot of the things that we traditionally associate with sales. It doesn't work because that person is not an idiot. So we talked earlier about how to increase connection by using casual conversation and humanizing yourself. This is the same idea, except I want to humanize the person on the other end, not just you, but them. So having respect for the person on the other side of this exchange and is sincere desire to help them solve their problem is the best and most ethical way to sell. If you go in thinking that this person has a problem I can solve, then make the best case for why you can solve it. You will win because the customer is not a moron. She's your wife. 8. Go Out and Sell Something (Badly) (Yes, Badly): All right, This is our last video. So congratulations. You have made it to the final part of this course, and I want to quickly review what we've learned and then talk about how you can approve your skills far beyond this course. So we've learned that sales is about matching someone's problem to your solution. So you're never actually selling your matchmaking. We've learned that you need to talk to human like a human, because on the other side of this interaction is a person and a person wants to connect to another person, which sounds redundant. And I've used that word too many times. But you get the point. See what I did there. Sounds like I'm talking directly to you because I am. You need to shut up and listen, which means that you need to listen more than you talk. Remember that when you articulate someone's problem, they naturally credit you with the solution so you don't need to be boastful or pushy on put anything in someone's face. Remember that people don't like to be sold, but they like to buy, so make sure that people feel like they have control in the situation that they're choosing to buy from you. Not that you are pushing something on them. You want to sell to the heart, not the head. Motivators for purchase are emotional, and you want to be cognizant of that throughout your entire sales interaction. And lastly, the customer isn't a moron. She's your wife that goes back to being human and remembering that you don't want to be condescending or patronizing. And you want to bring respect into the conversation that you're having similarly to the way we're doing it now. So the way to get better at sales I would love to tell you that reading all of the resource is below and taking tests on it and being able Teoh, tell me all the rules back to my face would get you better not actually true. It will help. You should be familiar with all the things that you need to do in sales. But the only way to truly get better is to get out there and to do it and to do it badly. So let me just warn you before you go out there and be shocked because you memorized all the rules. So the rules are only so helpful in the application. So what I'd like you to do is to go out there in small ways and sell anything, whether it is a tweet that you want people to share or like, or taken action on whether it is getting your husband to go to your friend's sister's birthday party, whatever it is that you have to sell, whether it's an idea, a product or service, keep doing it. Keep doing it until you get better, and the way you can do this is by paying attention to what doesn't work. Don't keep sending out emails and then going. I don't know why no one's responding to my emails. Find out why treat this like you are a detective and you need to figure out what things you need to tweak in order to get the outcome you want. So keep playing around with things and remember that you are in control of this. You can play around within the rules. It helps to know them. But after that, use your intuition. Remember that you're trying to connect to another person on the other end of this exchange , and people are not like rules. They are dynamic and they're changing in every circumstance is a little different to give yourself some leeway to play around. So if you'd like my comments or my input, I really encourage you to finish the final project. I will be in the comments and I will be helping you along. So if you have questions, if you have concerns or you just want to geek out on this stuff, put your information below and we'll get started. Thank you so much for taking this course. I hope you've learned something and absolutely be in touch. I want to hear all your stories and I wish you the best of luck.