How to Get More Customers (Even If You Hate Selling)

www.gardenplantmarkers.comMy mother created what I think is a purple cow. An avid gardener, she was frustrated with the market’s lack of a quality garden plant marker, so she set out and created her own. Every gardener she’s shown it to flips over how great these things are – so simply showcasing the product should be enough to create a selling frenzy, right? Wrong.

“If you build it, they will come” may have worked for Kevin Costner, but if you as an entrepreneur embrace this laissez faire philosophy, prepare to watch the product to which you’ve dedicated so many hours die on the vine. Selling is a simply a critical skill to success.

However, if you’re like my mother – the thought of selling is overwhelmingly intimidating. Over homemade chicken soup on Sunday she expressed how, “I’m simply not wired that way. I get nervous and the words just don’t come out right.” Sound familiar?

If so, read on for ideas on how you can pitch your product without feeling like you’ve underminded your integrity.

Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Norman Vincent Peale was right – if you can’t get excited about your product or service, who will? Do you believe you’re the best? Deep down in your gut do you know that someone’s life will be just a little better because of what you’ve created? Then let those feelings show. Passion is contagious. When you’re genuinely happy and wholeheartedly believe that your product is the best on the market, that confidence can help your conversion rate.

Action: Often when we get excited our hearts beat stronger, we talk faster, louder or softer. However, these are signs of being nervous and uncomfortable – not self-confidence. Set up a video camera to record yourself. Sit down, stare directly into the camera and answer this question – “Who is someone special in your life and what are the qualities that make you love them.” Pause. Get a glass of water. Sit down and stare again while answering this question – “What is your product/service and why should someone buy it.” Then watch the tape. Do you notice a difference in the intonation and inflection of your voice? Chances are you were more comfortable talking about your someone special than your product. Continue recording until you are equally as comfortable with your product.

Use a Net – Not a Pole
If your product is fulfilling a specific niche (which it should) blasting your message and seeing who bites may not be the most effective use of resources. Instead, go to places with a high density of potential customers. Think of catching fish in the ocean with a single pole versus catching fish in a barrel with a net. The “barrel” might be a chat room, blog, forum, conference, or event where people are saying “Help – I have this problem and need a way to fix it.” When they ask for a solution and you provide it, you’re not selling – you’re solving.

Action: Brainstorm places where your potential customers might hang out in high numbers. Think beyond the tried and true and attempt to uncover unconventional places to market your product or service. Then go there with your I’m-here-to-help-you attitude.

Sell by Referral
Form relationships with other entrepreneurs who offer a complementary product or service and cross-pollinate your prospects. For example, when I was a freelance writer, I spent a fair amount of time meeting with graphic artists and graphic designers. Why? I knew that a potential client would most likely seek out their profession first when a project arose. By educating my partners on the value I brought to the client, they happily recommended me when a client needed help with their writing.

Action: Who are your potential partners? Write down a list of products or services your customers use in addition to yours. Then, seek out places where these referral sources congregate, go there and begin to make friends. Often time these relationships take time, so be patient and give these new relationships the care they deserve.

Related Links

7 Lies that Prevent Your Great Idea from Becoming a Real Business – by Greg Go

How Sales Techniques Work – by Lee Ann Obringer

Marketing For the Deer-in-the-Headlights Crowd – by Dawn Rivers Baker

Political Marketing: David Englin Does It Right

david-englan-letter.jpgYou may not know who David Englin is. I didn’t – until I moved into his district and received an astonishingly well written welcome letter.

Dear Andrea,

Thank you for registering to vote here in the 45th District! As your representative to the Virginia House of Delegates — the world’s oldest continuously meeting elected legislature — my goal is to provide open, responsive, energetic leadership that makes government work for you. Enclosed with this letter is a guide to some of the services my office can provide. I hope you will take a few minutes to look up my website, http://www.DavidEnglin.org, where the “Constituent Toolbox” section can connect you to a variety of state agencies and services.

While you are at my website, you can also find information about my background and legislative priorities and about my ongoing work for progress in our community and across Virginia. I believe that, whatever your background or political affiliation, we are joined together as neighbors, and I work hard to strengthen our economically and socially diverse community, to defend our community’s progressive values, and to invest in a bright and prosperous future.

It is an honor to represent you, and I hope you will always feel free to share your thoughts and ideas so we can continue down the path of progress together.

Sincerely Yours,

David Englin
Delegate – 45th District

P.S. — Also enclosed is my business card, which includes my home and cell numbers. Please don’t hesitate to call if I can be of service.  

Curious, I checked out his website and on the home page is a blog. Although he calls it “news” — it is certainly a series of short and personal posts arranged in reverse chronological order — therefore, it’s a blog.

Geoff Livingston of the Buzz Bin wrote an interesting post about the use of new media in the political arena. I highly suggest taking a peek.

This soft sell certainly made David stand out from the crowd. Always slow adopters, goverment officials are usually the last to catch on to new ways of operating. But it looks like David is pretty savvy and because of that, I like him and will most likely vote for him.

Politicians take note – we want to be treated as valued customers. You should check out Seth Godin’s take on Permission Marketing for further details.

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Why Link Love is Bad for Your Blog

Fresh out of college I worked selling ad space for a regional lifestyle magazine. It was a tough sell because the magazine was about 80% advertising and 20% editorial – and people caught on. The lack of original content was ultimately what caused the magazine’s demise.

Similarly, I can predict the same fate for blogs who evangelize link love strategies. Simply creating a list of other blogs or writing a post to the effect of “Read this blog – it’s good” is an ineffective long term strategy for building a quality blog.

If you look at some of the best blogs out there – blogs like ProBlogger, Seth Godin, Copyblogger, or How to Change the World, you’ll notice they never re-hash other people’s ideas. If they do link to another blog it’s with a purpose. If they reference an article they state their opinion. If they use a “tactic” it’s subtle and buffered with mounds of original content.

Unsure you have what it takes to come up with original content on a regular basis? Maybe you shouldn’t be blogging in the first place.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com