Even if you hate selling stuff
One aspect of being an author that I initially hated and feared was selling and marketing my books. In the beginning I was one of those people who said, “I can’t sell anything.” However if you produce a product, eventually you want to share it with others and unless you can afford to give it away, you will need to learn how to promote and sell it. I’ve studied and practiced this for several years now (how time flies!) and the exciting thing is that I now love to sell my books and other products. I actually look forward to the many conferences and events that I participate in.
How did I change my attitude about selling? I changed my mindset. I no longer think of it as selling my books. Instead I think of it as sharing and helping others. The concepts that I’ve learned are useful no matter what you are selling, so whether you are a writer or artist or selling the latest widget or service, you can apply these principles to your product.
Here are my Secret Seven:
Know who your audience is. This is the most fundamental of all the principles and the one that most entrepreneurs don’t take the time to research and apply. Create a virtual ideal customer and learn everything about them, especially their interests, their needs and where they hang out. I write children’s picture books that are specifically designed for elementary school counselors. My best sales opportunity? School counselor conferences like the Georgia School Counselor Conference I attended in Macon last week. To be successful, you need to sell in an environment where you can find your audience.
Know what your audience wants. I used to have a coach who maintained that you can give people what they need if it is wrapped up in what they want. This is an excellent principle. Just because you think someone needs to have gluten free muffins doesn’t mean they will buy it. On the other hand, if you appeal to what people want, such as a tasty and delicious muffin that also happens to be good for you–then you’ve got the best possible of all worlds. Ask yourself: What problem am I trying to solve? Are you making holiday decorating simple and fun? Are you making weight loss easier and healthier? Are you improving their life in some way or providing more fun and glamour? Simply displaying your wares and waiting for the sales to happen isn’t going to work. Customers aren’t mind readers. They don’t know how beneficial your product is if you don’t tell them. You must engage with your clients and let them know how you can help or serve them.
Have a visually appealing set up. Do something that attracts attention and is engaging. Just having a few books stacked up or brochures laid out is not enough. There needs to be a sense of abundance at your booth. If products look scarce, people don’t feel it’s worth their while to stop. They can see from a distance the one book you are offering and check it off their list. Is there something they can touch? Can they flip through the book? Can they see how they might package the product and tie it up with a bow for a gift? Are your products at the back of the booth or in the front and easily accessible? Are you standing at the front of the booth like a guard or are you allowing space for customers to interact with your product? Walk through a exhibit and be aware of the booths that you are attracted to and then create a similar environment.
Tell a story. Everyone loves a story and it is stories that sell products. Often it’s not just the story between the covers that sells a book. Readers like to know the story behind the story. How did you get started selling essential oils? Was it an answer to a physical problem that you experienced? Do you love to decorate for Christmas at your own home so now you want to help others create the same festive environment for their home? Do you love comfortable but stylish clothing and want to share your special brand with others? At events, I usually tell about my history as a school counselor and how I came up with the different themes of the books. Which leads me to the next point….
Develop a relationship with your customer. Don’t just be interested in getting them to buy your product. Ask yourself, “What does this person need and how can I help them?” Although I have a goal of selling books, my top priority is how can I help each individual I meet. Sometimes I help by listening to their story and making suggestions. Sometimes I help by telling them how I started writing and publishing books because they mention that they’d like to write. Sometimes I help by suggesting other products, books, blogs, conferences or authors that they could benefit from. In other words, selling my book is secondary to helping meet their needs. Zig Ziglar said, “You can have anything you want if you just help enough people get what they want” and I find this to be true every time.
Create a package. I can sell one book or I can sell all eight as a package and give a discount. I can add in a book of lesson plans. People are just naturally drawn to not only getting a deal, but getting more, especially where there is a connection or theme. How can you package together your product?
Create and maintain a connection. Even if someone does not purchase your product, always have something to share. It could be information that they will find helpful. It could be a free sample. And while you are at it, look for a way to capture email addresses. If you have a website, this is your valuable free offer. At an event, the most effective way to do this is to have a give away where you will email the winner after the event, get an address and send them their prize. Once you have an email, stay connected with a regular newsletter that provides value (NOT pushy sales material) so people feel cared about, know how to contact you and buy from you in the future.
Well there you have it. My seven selling secrets that I’ve gleaned from years of marketing and selling my books, speaking programs and coaching sessions.
Would you add anything to the list?
What have you learned about selling your product? I’d love to hear in the comment section.
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