Most people hate selling. They hate having to sell things to other people, and they hate being sold to.
If you’re the seller, selling can be a frustrating process of rejection. And if you’re the potential buyer, nothing is a bigger turn-off than a blatant sales pitch.
Unfortunately, if you have a business, you have to sell products or services or advertising to earn revenue.
Just the thought of selling is enough to keep many people from going into business for themselves, and many people who do decide to start a business end up failing because they don’t accept the fact that products don’t sell themselves.
Selling in some form is just a fact of life when you’re running a business.
I’ve never been particularly good at selling directly and used to cringe at the thought of the sales process just like everyone else. That was, until I discovered the best sales pitch ever.
The best sales pitch ever is no sales pitch at all.
That’s right. The best sales pitch you can use is no sales pitch at all. At least not in the traditional sense. This isn’t a trick. Let me explain how it works.
I run an independent small business based primarily around this blog. The business supports me comfortably and is starting to provide opportunities for other people as well. I built the entire business in about 18 months and I sell products, services and other people’s products. I’ve never cold-called anyone to make a sale and I’ve never made a hard sales pitch either over the phone or online.
I don’t cringe at the thought of sales anymore because I don’t have to do much of it at all. The selling I do is actually something I look forward to.
This is all because of (get ready for a couple of buzzwords here) inbound marketing and permission marketing.
Inbound marketing is about attracting people to your website or business who are looking for information on the topic you cover. Search marketing, blogging and social media are three channels for inbound marketing.
Permission marketing (coined by Seth Godin) is about reaching out to people after they’ve given you permission to. It’s the opposite of the old standard of interruption marketing.
The point of both of these types of marketing is that you’re telling a friendly and interested audience about products that might help them instead of forcing your message in front of people who are trying to avoid it.
Your goal for building an audience for your website or blog should be to attract people who you can help fill a need or desire for. Once you’ve attracted those people, you can ask for permission to stay in contact with them (for instance by getting people to follow you on Twitter or Facebook or subscribing to your email newsletter).
Rinse and repeat and eventually selling will be easy (you might even start to look forward to it).
Hot leads! No selling required!
This site is just eight months old and yet it has already become a powerful driver of clients and customers to my business.
Because I’ve focused on both inbound and permission marketing (instead of pushy old-school sales tactics or shady internet marketing trickery), every day I wake up to email from potential customers and notifications of sales of products.
The people who contact me don’t require any convincing or inspired speeches to become customers. They’ve reached out to me because they already know I can help their business. I’ve already demonstrated my expertise every week through the value in every piece of content I publish.
They feel like they know me already. No sales required.
Someone recently asked me why I blog. Part of the answer is personal. I love the process of writing and connecting with people through words. The other part of the answer is purely business. Blogging is a fantastic vehicle for building an audience of people who want more of what you have to offer. Some of those people will become paying customers to get more of what you offer.
But blogging certainly isn’t the only way to take advantage of these superior marketing strategies, it just happens to be something I’ve used successfully and I tend to write about my experience.
If you don’t blog, you can still use these strategies to your advantage. The point is simply to attract an audience which is interested in what you have to offer and ask for permission to reach the audience members on a regular basis.
Once you’ve done that, the selling part is easy.
What about you? Have you tried inbound marketing or permission marketing? How has it worked compared to traditional sales techniques? Please share in the comments!
photo by Troy Holden
The Top 10 Mistakes in Online Business
Every week we talk with entrepreneurs. We talk about what’s working and what isn’t. We talk about successes and failures. We spend time with complete newbies, seasoned veterans, and everything in between.
One topic that comes up over and over again with both groups is mistakes made in starting businesses. Newbies love to learn about mistakes so they can avoid them. Veterans love to talk about what they wish they had known when starting out.
These conversations have been fascinating, so we compiled a list of the 10 mistakes we hear most often into a nifty lil' guide. Get the 10 Most Common Mistakes in Starting an Online Business here »