Often when we try to sell our product or service we begin by… selling our service. We go in a bookstore and ask them to carry our book. We attend a networking event and expect someone to sign up for coaching. We create a webinar and expect participants to sign up for our program. Then we are disappointed by the results. We think the problem is our business or even worse ourselves. Instead, the problem is our strategy.
At a recent workshop that I was attending, the presenter mentioned that he had written a children’s book. As someone who has written six (soon to be seven) children’s picture books, I asked if he was aware that there was a really trendy bookstore down the street that had a children’s section and events for emerging authors. He answered that he knew it but that when he approached the owners they weren’t interested in his book because it was self-published. I didn’t tell him that the same book store carries my books. They are self-published as well. Want to know my secret?
The Secret to Successful Selling
I believe there are two secrets to successful selling.
- Identify your ideal client. Too many business owners spread themselves thin trying to reach out to everyone. They sign up for every vendor booth at every trade show, approach everyone and blast the entire internet with promotions. Certainly you will get some sales this way but I believe a better way is to first identify who your product or service is really directed to and then seriously market to that audience. For example, if you are a life coach, who do you target as your ideal audience? Be specific and get to know well a certain niche that you feel called to work with. Do you want to coach business owners in start-up? Moms dealing with challenging parenting issues? Women experiencing anxiety and depression? Now direct your marketing time there.
- Bottom line: Know your ideal client so well that you know how they think, what their pain points are and where they hang out. Then communicate with them there.
- Develop a relationship with your ideal client. This doesn’t mean that you approach them once and ask them to put your book on the shelves of their store, or attend a Mom’s Morning Out group and expect everyone to sign up for your coaching. It means you begin the relationship by understanding who they are, what they need and asking how you can help them. Many times the answer to how you can help doesn’t involve using your product or service… at first. When I found the bookstore that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I started by attending every author event that I could at their store. I bought books there. I talked to the owners about their business. I learned how bookstores operate and their feelings about self-publishing. I presented at an emerging author event. I invited all my friends to attend the events there as well and told everyone what a great little bookstore it is. I let them know that I was a writer, that I wrote children’s books and how much I appreciated their contribution to the community. I never actually asked them to carry my books but eventually they asked me.
- Bottom line: Just as you probably wouldn’t go out on a date with someone you didn’t know that approached you at the check-out in the grocery store, don’t expect someone to purchase a product or service just because you approached them and asked them to. We buy from people that we like, trust and have a relationship with. So target a small group that you are genuinely interested in and care about, build the relationship and then know that the sales will come.
Here’s the really ironic thing about the disappointed children’s author and the workshop that I attended. The main focus of the training was how to use social media to develop relationships, not just blast people with your skills and connections. Sometimes what we know to be true in one arena of life, we forget to apply to others. Think about the last time that you bought anything. Value is certainly important and a necessary ingredient. But equally important is the relationship and the sense of being appreciated in the sales transaction. If you build this into your marketing plan, you will find the success in sales that you are seeking.
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