First off – I hope you’re doing okay. Second – I’ve started reaching out to people who I haven’t messaged in a while to see how they’re doing. It’s been very helpful to both parties.
I’ve also been doing a lot of personal development while my work has slowed down. Personal development isn’t the easiest thing to do when a) I’m worried about where my next pay cheque is going to come from and b) I have a two year old constantly shouting “Daddy! Daddy!”
While working on me – I came across the below post on LinkedIn. It’s from a former business associate of mine.
So, this isn’t an over-the-top sales pitch, but c’mon man! I’m here worrying about my businesses, my bread, my family. I don’t give a FUCK about “optimizing” my digital advertising.
No surprise – the post received zero comments, zero likes, and zero “strategy call” bookings. Although I agree with the messaging, now is definitely not the time to be selling how to optimize your digital advertising. And this is the third or fourth time he’s posted something similar to this.
I’ll show you how to sell without selling a little later on, but FIRST! MORE SHITTY SHITTY SALES PITCHES!
One of my former colleagues works for Habitat For Humanity and while she and her team are working from home someone had the gull to DM her asking if she was interested in doing reno’s in her office seeing how no one was in there.
“Good time to do that reno you’ve been putting off.”
This asshat is trying to leverage the Coronavirus to get a not-for-profit to spend money during a time where Habitat is trying to keep a roof over their own damn heads.
I get it
These guys are trying to do what they can to survive, but they’re eroding whatever brand equity they’ve built by not showing any compassion. It’s a heartless sell over and over and over and over.
Thanks to my personal development – here’s a better way to go about selling right now:
Be kind and put yourself in the shoes of the people you’re trying to reach with your message.
To the last point – I’ve pivoted and adjusted my “pitch” to be research based opposed to a hard sell. I don’t mention Coronavirus – until I get a response from a prospect. Once he or she DM’s me then we chat a bit about how the world has gone to shit.
Below is my LinkedIn post.
No likes, no comments, but I did get 4 responses. Okay, one was from a guy who I personally messaged, so 3 DM’s off one post isn’t bad.
Now more than ever YOU have to be YOU. You have to be your authentic self. I don’t know who’s going to come out above this crises. It may be a different version of your business or even a different version of you.
It took me awhile to realize who I was (more on that at the bottom of this post). Plus, I continue to discover new things on a seemingly daily basis (reminder – I do have a toddler). I literally spent 20 minutes last night discussing with my wife what she thinks I do well. After all – we have lots of time on our hands. Find some time and ask your partner or a friend what they think you’re good at.
What is authenticity?
I’ve been on quite the authenticity trip lately, and here’s why – it’s imperative to your brand. Whether it be a personal brand or professional brand, people will see through your BS.
My wife, and I started our e-commerce store, Ever Rose, with the mindset of being as transparent as possible. The same holds true for my ‘Guy with the Bow Tie’ brand, and the community magazines I used to publish. Be authentic, and you’ll start to see amazing results.
How real are you?
Stop and ask yourself this. When you wake up in the morning are you excited about doing what you’re doing? Even in these times.
Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t, and I’m not going to preach about ‘doing what you love’. I want you to get real, because if you aren’t REAL you’re robbing this world of your natural talents. And if you aren’t being real when you step into work whether it’s your business or not – you’re only hurting your bottom line.
It’s inevitable your business will kind of be like you.
It will stand for your values, and your beliefs. You are your business, and your business is you. And that’s okay. It’s when you or your business starts to be something it’s not that you start to lose.
There are so many options available to consumers to poke holes in your BS. If you claim to be the world’s best chef, but a quick Google search discovers you’ve only flipped burgers at McDonald’s, well BS meters are going to start going off. Just be yourself, and someone somewhere will have a connection with who you are, and what you stand for.
If you think you’re boring, then tell people about it. Say, you’re really boring, but damn do you ever make a good pizza or build a great garage. The more genuine, and open you are, the more genuine, and open people will be back to you.
This comes to mind as I’m working with an inspiring entrepreneur who’s going to be launching an online platform shortly where you can use Bitcoin to book hotels online.
He lives in the Southern US, and is originally from India. He runs a couple hotels, and as such he started getting fed up with OTA sites (Expedia, Trivago, Travelocity, etc…) eating into his margins, and taking away from his LOCAL business, and the LOCAL economy. So, he does what any entrepreneur or savvy business owner would do – he’s fighting back. He’s so passionate about creating a fair, online portal for hotel seekers that he decided to build his own platform, and it’s going to be launching soon. His company is a reflection of his personal beliefs, and feelings. He’s REAL.
Your Personal Brand
You hear it, I hear it, we all hear it…BE YOURSELF! And it’s so true when it comes to business, and especially in times of a crises. When I was starting out, I was trying to be something I wasn’t. I thought I knew it all. I thought the world was at my finger-tips, and I was humbled quickly…very quickly.
Whether you like it or not, you’re being judged everyday. People are Googling you and colleagues interact with you at work as they try to figure you out. On this note – have you Googled yourself lately? What comes up? Anything?
When I made the change from the corporate world to being self-employed, I was going back to my original self. The guy who I am at home, and on weekends. The guy who I knew I wanted to be when I was growing up. I dropped the act, stopped caring about what others thought, and started being REAL.
It’s not easy – it took me 10-years to figure out who I REALLY was, but it all started with my gut. How I felt in the morning was a HUGE indicator of who I was and what I wanted to do. I went from wanting to hit the snooze button repeatedly to bouncing out of bed, and ready for the day ahead.
I can’t tell you how many strong connections I’ve made by showing people who I truly am. I even let people in to tell them about my childhood, and my biological father who I never, and still don’t know. You won’t find that in a sales or business book anywhere, but it’s who I am, and it’s what allowed me to make the connections I have.
I no longer have visions of me quitting my job while I brushed my teeth in the morning. I’m doing what I want, and what I’m supposed to be doing…at this point in my life anyway.
Start being your authentic self and the rest will follow.
Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft
Ps. It’s a shitty time we’re in right now. If you need help, whether it’s financial, emotional, mental – let me know. I’m here for you.
You’re in sales. Whether it’s in a job interview, presenting a multi-million dollar pitch to a room of investors or your online t-shirt store – you’re constantly selling something. Once you’ve gotten a potential customer through the door – you’re selling.
Psychology of the sale
I sleep with a psychology book on my nightstand. I love diving in to how the mind works because once you understand how we’re wired, it makes certain things like selling quite simple.
Here’s the three-step cycle going on in your prospects mind before they purchase anything, hell before they even approach you: 1) Fight or flight (THE LIZARD BRAIN!) or spam filter to your pitch 2) What does this mean to me (providing social context)? 3)What problem does this solve (very analytical)?
Before visiting you online, setting foot in your store or chatting with you at a networking event, humans primal extinct is to fight or flee the situation. It’s only been for the past century or so where our basic standards of life (in the Western World anyway) have been covered to a point of not having to worry about a large predator jumping out of the bushes and devouring us on the spot. However, our minds have been slow to change.
This is the lizard brain quickly deciphering whether we should run or stand put and duke it out to the best of our ability. Our mind has been conditioned to conduct a quick survey of our surroundings within nano-seconds. Once this assessment is complete – the body chooses whether to fight or flee.
This is why you may find your palms or brow get sweaty before a pitch. For me it’s my lower back and armpits. Hell, I get sweaty before I ask my wife about whether or not she wants pizza or a pita for dinner. It’s human nature.
Knowing this primal instinct is hardwired into everyone’s mind – you must get it to calm down before moving to the second part of your prospects decision making mind. To do this you must be clear, concise, while sprinkling in a bit of humour (if you can).
The lizard brain is essential for survival. This is why it’s so difficult to get past. In your pitch you’re selling using data, metrics and all these things the lizard brain doesn’t care about. Remember the lizard brain is the spam filter. 90% of what you’re saying or pitching isn’t getting through. The lizard brain is lazy and if you’re throwing numbers, and business jargon its way it will get overwhelmed and discard the vast majority.
The lizard brain likes black and white. It’s taking care of your survival. It doesn’t care about data. Your pitch needs to be clear and concise. The lizard brain is lazy, so don’t make it do too much work.
How to get past the lizard brain
Focus on the big picture in black and white. No grey areas. Remember this is fight or flight you’re dealing with.
Use emotion through visual and audio cues
Create novelty (how are you different and exciting?)
Throw in concrete facts (verified evidence)
Your entire sales pitch is wasted unless you get past the lizard brain. Your pitch was created with the analytical part of your brain. Having said that, don’t pitch to the lizard brain with analytics. Get past it using the points above. Once through the lizard brain you can dive into the details.
How much should I invest in myself or my business? First off – you should have money to market your business and / or yourself.
Do you have a sales budget aka how much revenue do you expect to make this year? What’s your salary? What’s your expected commission?
Good. You have that number. Now – at a bare minimum – take 2% of that number. There’s your marketing budget. It would be best to have 10%, but let’s start with 2%. The same goes when trying to figure out how much to invest in yourself.
Oh you don’t invest in yourself? START!
Read a book, invest in a course, invest in a gym membership, a magazine subscription…do it.
So you have a budget now. What do you do with it? Whether it’s $500 or $500,000 find as many things as possible that you can own.
What do I mean?
Marketing dollars are often spent throwing money at this thing, and that thing. IT’S BETTER TO OWN SOMETHING! Take your $100, print some sales letters (here are some of my personal B2B examples) or brochures you did up in Word, and deliver them to every single apartment in the complex beside your business (or to every house on a street located near your business). Then do it again a week or two later. You need to hit as many people over the head with your message. The tricky part is ensuring the message MATTERS TO THEM. More on that here…
(Remember – I don’t give a shit about you, until you can do something for me. Whether it’s nourish me, allow me to keep extra jingle in my jeans, or help me out in some way, shape or form.)
You need to do this repeatedly. SOOOO many of you try something out once, don’t see results, and then say, “Well, that didn’t work.” Of course it didn’t work. Repetition Repetition Repetition.
Remember how you were taught in school? It probably went something like this… At the beginning of the class (or semester) your teacher would tell you what they were going to teach you, then teach you it, then review what they taught you. Repetition Repetition Repetition.
This is how our brains have been programmed since kindergarten, so start using the philosophy in your marketing. Find something you can own. Then repeat repeat repeat.
It sometimes takes me 12 – 15 contacts until I make a sale. I repeat, repeat, repeat my process. And you know what, when I call, walk into an appointment or see one of my prospects at an event…they immediately KNOW WHO I AM. It should be the same way with you and your business.
If you’re buying radio ads (for example), and you don’t have money to throw around like the ‘big guys’, again find something you can own. Maybe it’s an hour every Monday over the next few weeks. Maybe it’s an entire week. Whatever it is, find something you can own, then repeat repeat repeat.
1) Find money or find time to focus on marketing 2) Find something you can own 3) Repeat Repeat Repeat
Tell me ONE marketing opportunity you have at the moment (print, direct mail, radio, tv, social media, whatever…) and leave it in the comments below. I’ll tell you how to EXPLOIT that opportunity with repetition. I’ve purchased nearly every type of media, and used as many media channels as possible to further the brands, and people I work with (including myself). For being a loyal reader it’s the least I can do.
How many times have you heard “Needs Analysis”? I used to hear it daily, as this was always on my sales manager’s mind when it came to meeting with any prospect. I used to have a laundry list of questions, 9 times out of 10, supplied to me. “These will help get you closer to closing the deal,” said the sales manager. Meanwhile, my eyes were rolling so hard you would have thought I was dead.
Your prospects time is limited. If you’re able to get in front of them (in person, video chat, phone, whatever) don’t waste your time going through a laundry list of questions that makes it seem like an interrogation. Hit ’em with the Force Field Analysis, and maybe just maybe they’ll give you a hug.
Within minutes you’ll put the focus on your prospects business and you will immediately uncover their pain points. It’s the fastest Survey Monkey survey ever. At the very least, you’ll position yourself as a sales person who’s different and an ally for your prospect rather than a nuisance.
This is also a great way to qualify your prospect. Maybe what their business really needs is something you can’t offer them. This gives you the chance to part ways amicably. This could also open the door for you to refer them to someone you know who can help them.
Best case scenario – it opens the door for you to help them out and get closer to signing the deal.
Action step: Test out the Force Field Analysis on yourself. Take a piece of paper, and draw a horizontal line. Mark it as “Day 1.” Then draw three arrows going up from that line, and draw another line. Label it “Today.” Then ask yourself, “What are three things that took you from Day 1 to where you are today?”
Then draw another horizontal line above the “Today” line, and label it “Next Level.” Draw three arrows down from this line, then ask yourself, “What are three things preventing me from getting to the next level?”
This will clear your mind, and allow you to focus in on what’s really important. Then circle one of those items you wrote down that’s preventing you from getting to the next level and devote your time to it. Maybe it’s investing in yourself, which you’ve already done by doing the Force Field Analysis. The Force Field Analysis may not be the right thing for you, but I’ve found it to work time, and time again for my clients and myself. I’ve even done it on the back of a golf scorecard and on a napkin at a pancake breakfast. You can damn near do it anywhere, which makes it an excellent tool for your sales toolkit.
If you need more direction on this or if you’re stuck trying to analyze yourself – shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or leave a comment below. I read every message, and I’d be happy to help, as long as you aren’t an asshole.
Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft
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This is a common question I see on message boards and through the grapevine of entrepreneurs. It also is a cause for concern in the bricks-and-mortar world, but let’s stick with online.
Anyone, anywhere can have a store. No longer do you need vast sums of money for a lease, employees and stock. You can do everything behind a screen. With that – the amount of online stores hawking goods from dresses (EverRose.com – plug, plug) to backpacks to cheeses is endless. The world is flat in this regard. However, just because it’s relatively easy to set up. It doesn’t mean it’s profitable.
Here’s why you’re not making any sales
1) Your online store is too cumbersome. You’ve read too many blogs about what you should have on your store, and instead of creating a simple process for those who buy – you’ve confused your would be buyer with link after link after link. Your product(s) should be the first thing people see when they visit your store. You should also have some info on shipping and returns, and a page that reflects who you and your business are (if you want to add a personal touch).
3) No one knows you exist. I hope you’ve read this far as this is probably the most important item on the list. You can’t expect sales without people knowing about you. You need to market yourself. Hook up with bloggers or influencers in your line of work. My wife and I hook up with fashion bloggers to promote our product to their masses. We also buy advertising (funny thought), and it works.
4) If you have traffic to your site, and you’re still not making sales – check the options above. If you’ve done all of the above then you probably didn’t research your product upfront. If you haven’t tested to see if your idea works through family friends, then your idea is probably not going to work to others. Just because you think it would be cool to run an online t-shirt store, it doesn’t mean people are going to buy from you. Ask your friends and family first – see if they would buy. My wife and I’s online dress shop did this, and our first few customers were family and friends. From there the word spreads.
The above should point you on the correct path. I could write an endless post on why you aren’t getting sales, but the points above are the most common reason. You can always ask me to take a look too. I’m always free to give open and honest feedback.
You can get your groceries delivered to your door with the click of a button. You can shop hundreds of styles of clothes in less than a minute. You can connect with your friend visiting a town on the other side of the globe in an instant. All of this is possible behind a screen. With that, actual physical interaction with someone is slipping away. With the limited physical touches and conversations going on – has customer service taken a hit? When’s the last time a company went above and beyond for you?
The art of customer service
“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
– Walt Disney
Funny how one of the most valued commodities – if not the most – nowadays is time. You do whatever you can to save nanoseconds. You’d think businesses would see this and increase employees or response times to potential customers. However, it’s increasingly difficult to find someone with enough knowledge to actually answer the questions you need to be answered – whether it’s in-store or online.
In order to make your business stand out – try doing one step more. If you can answer one question – see if you can elaborate and suggest something more. My dad is amazing at this. He’s an upholsterer and every time he’s on a sales call – he always gets asked about the type / colour of the fabric his potential client should use. He answers the question by giving a few options and then BANG! He mentions pillows, and how a contrasting colour will make everything pop. It’s the classic up-sell, but it’s so much more than that. It’s providing value, suggesting something the potential client didn’t even think about, and increasing his profits at the same time.
What can you do to add that extra touch?
My wife and I’s online shop – EverRose.com is similar. We try to add personal touches everywhere to ensure our fans know we care about them. After all, without them we wouldn’t be in business. My wife writes personal notes to each and every fan who orders. We also take it one step further than most online clothing stores by measuring each piece of clothing. This gives a comprehensive outline on whether or not it’s going to fit you. It’s all about taking it one-step further. It’s a pain in the ass on our end, but the end result is SALES. Plus, our fans love it. How do we know – they tell us in reviews and in personal emails they send us.
This is what makes your business a brand. It makes the person on the other end (customer) feel something for you, and your product / service.
“Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking ad.”
– James C. Penney, Founder, J.C. Penney
You want to know how to limit your advertising spend? Make your experience so memorable to a customer they’ll have no choice, but to recommend you to their friends and family. If that’s not enough – encourage them to do so by following up with requests for reviews (my wife and I do this for every sale by sending a personalized email to each fan). Word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, and nothing creates more word-of-mouth than outstanding customer service.
It’s not that hard
With the majority of corporations pulling back on their customer service channels, and personnel it’s very easy to stand out. Even being present and engaging in conversation with your potential customer can put you over the top. At the very least give the customer what you’d expect to receive from a company. Then try and out do yourself. Make a suggestion above and beyond the question asked of you. Personalize everything. Respond as quickly as you can, and as honestly as you can.
A few of these will go along way in your customers mind, and will ensure success down the road.