During the launch of the Story Selling Master Class, I had someone contact me through Facebook to insult me…
Presumably, this was someone who actually wanted me to give him money, to help me with my copy. That’s the impression he gave me.
But he started off by saying he watched the first few minutes of my videos, and found them to be boring.
I told him I’m open to criticism, but I wanted it to be constructive.
So he agreed he’d give me a list of 10 ways to improve the videos — which I told him I’d be happy to consider.
A couple hours later, he pings me again. He tells me he’s having trouble not being offensive in making this list, so I basically tell him that he shouldn’t send it.
All-in, it was a really strange conversation, but it piqued my curiosity.
Who was this guy? What was his style? Why did he reach out to me in this way — then shrivel away when I called him on being a bit of a jerk?
That’s when I discovered something interesting about him…
He’s basically the slimy, hype-spewing huckster of a salesman we all hate!
Take whatever your mental picture is of a hard-sell salesperson. Maybe it’s someone on a used car lot. Maybe it’s someone in a boiler room hard-pitching pump-n-dump investment opportunities. Maybe it’s the time-share salesperson who you can’t get away from once you give them a mere moment of your attention.
They’re all hyper-persuasive, in the moment…
In fact, you can’t really argue that what they do gets results.
Once upon a time, I helped my local newspaper create the in-store kiosk programs, where we went to local grocery stores and other retailers and sell newspaper subscriptions.
The “standard” way to do this was to offer a free copy of the day’s paper to start the conversation, then engage the person in a conversation about the newspaper, whether they get it delivered, and eventually make an offer for home delivery.
And while I’m sure I could come up with 100 ways to improve on that today, it got pretty good results. A smile, kindness, and good conversation would be enough to pull in people with at least a mild interest in the paper, and a little persistence would get them to fill out the order form.
And then there was one guy I worked with who was the stereotypical salesman. He was 10 years older than the college students who made up most of the rest of the subscription sales department. He always wore a leather coat, wore a big smile, and shook your hand like he was sizing you up.
Frankly, I liked the guy — when we weren’t selling. But when I saw how he pitched the paper in-store, it made me cringe.
He’d be standing behind the kiosk, like any one of us would do. Then, he’d see an older lady rolling her cart through the produce section. She’d stop to look at something, and he’d walk over to her, and pull her cart toward the kiosk. He’d hand her the free paper, and start closing — all while holding on to her cart.
If she’d really objected, I’m sure he would have eventually let the cart go — but the general feeling he gave these folks was, “I’ll let you go when you sign the order form.”
Was his method effective? Usually he did as well or better than many of the nice sales people. But he was killing the customer experience.
For every sale he closed today, he was also increasing the negative associations another subscriber had with the newspaper.
This was in the very early 2000s, and newspapers were already starting to stumble — we didn’t need to lose customers for this, when we were having enough trouble keeping ‘em due to the rise of the internet.
Compare that to the nice, empathetic, positive selling method. I have a conversation with you and help you remember why you like the paper, and why you want to have it delivered. I give you positive feelings, associated with the newspaper. I give you a good deal to get delivery started again, and make sure you know you can call our department if there are any questions. Plus, you leave with today’s paper free.
When it comes time to renew that paper in 13 or 26 or 52 weeks, you’re going to feel a lot better doing it if you dealt with me and felt like it was your decision, than you would if you felt forced into it. Even if you like getting the paper, you may cancel to spite the slimy sales guy who got you into the subscription. That is, if you didn’t call to cancel the moment you got home (it happened).
I always ask myself how I would want to be dealt with, if I were in the customer’s shoes…
When it comes to buying anything, I’d rather be under-promised and over-delivered than the other way around.
I want to feel like I’m being served in making the buying decision, not hard-sold on spending my money today.
It’s a total mindset shift, but it’s important…
If you’re in an industry where you eat based on what you sell today, that hard-sell approach is critical to maximizing lifetime revenue. Because it’s all about today’s sales — the customer lifetime is one sale.
If you instead want to build your business around REAL lifetime relationships with your customers and clients, knowing that a lifetime relationship can result in 10X or 100X the revenue of a one-and-done, you have to step back a bit…
Maybe filling your messages with “magic pill” promises and hyperbolic claims will make more sales today. Maybe it will bring more customers in through the door. It will definitely feel less “boring” to the “closer” who is all about making more sales now.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing wrong with closing. When it comes time to close the sale, I’m unabashed in telling you what I think is the best course of action for you to take.
However, when you use big hype and unrealistic promises to close a sale today, you’re damaging your ability to go back to that person again and again and again to bring them more value, and make more profits in return.
When you abuse their trust in the first sale, it’s hard to get it back.
Taking the “high road” and underselling yourself will almost always lead to slower growth…
But that’s not the point.
What if instead of thinking “What can I get TODAY?” you ask yourself, “What impact can I make over the next 25 years?”
When you think about this long timeline, you don’t want to have to be bringing new customers in through the door every day, week, month, year, decade.
It’s far better — and more impactful — to be constantly growing your reach, audience, and fan base.
When they’re headed out the back door as fast as they’re coming in the front — because you sold them too much “magic pill” and hyperbole — you’re on a nonstop treadmill. It might get you some exercise, but it’s not taking you anywhere.
Compare that to a business dedicated to honoring the trust someone puts in you to fulfill on your promises. Very few go out the back door, even as more come in through the front. You’re building a tribe, and audience, a movement.
And every year, as that grows, your impact grows — as does your wealth.
That’s the kind of business I’d rather be a part of.
Insult me all you want. I’ll still be here when you’re gone — another flash-in-the-pan success whose ability to sell caught up with your unwillingness to fulfill on your promises.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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