Let’s all get on the same page right away: everything about selling turns us off.
How many times have you pretended to be on the phone so you didn’t have to hear a pitch about saving the environment from the guy standing on the street corner? It’s okay, you can admit it :)
When it comes to our businesses and projects, I’ve noticed that making sales is the achilles heel of many entrepreneurs.
We’ve seen more struggles with sales pages, more problems with pitching, and plenty of self-doubt when it comes to really conveying the value you bring to the table.
Selling is equal parts art and science, and like I total weirdo I actually love it. I have a lot to say about sales, but if I could tell you just one thing, it would be this:
Features and benefits don’t sell things.
Does this surprise you? To make my point, let me have the super smart Simon Sinek explain this.
Perhaps you’re familiar with the famous “Start With Why” Ted Talk — here’s the brief version to jog your memory:
With his “golden circles” concept, Sinek shows us why some leaders are able to inspire when others aren’t.
The difference, he teaches, is that very few organizations and people know why they do what they do.
Simon asks, “What’s your purpose, cause or belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why should anyone care?“
Everyone else focuses on “what” and “how”. But the truly great start with why.
The story sells things
One of my favorite examples of this concept comes from Apple. A few years back, they released this television commercial around the holidays to advertise the new iPhone:
And I literally had goosebumps and teared up when I watched it (and guys, I might be a Mama Bear, but I’m not much of a crier!)
The craziest part is, when you watch the commercial you realize a few things:
- They don’t say a word about their product.
- They don’t even tell you what this thing can do! The commercial doesn’t show you that it’s possible to have endless apps at your fingertips, that you can seamlessly and beautifully experience media and the internet. If you think about it, there’s no “what” and “how” here at all.
- … Instead, we’re drawn in by the story. It’s a story of a teenage boy at the holidays who seems withdrawn, but in a twist ending has actually used this phone to do something incredibly thoughtful for his family. And at least for me, it stuck in my brain.
Everywhere I look, I see examples of how leveraging a product’s story takes it from “just another thing” to “wow, I can get behind that”.
Let me share a couple more real life examples I encountered at Fizzle just this week.
“Simply make products thats make people happy”
Just this week I interviewed my new friend Kristen Ley, Founder, Creator & Owner of Thimblepress. I gotta say, Kristen is a master storyteller.
Her company’s mission is simple: she follows her own creativity and curiosity to make fun products, including confetti, party goods, art prints and more.
A simple search on Etsy or a walk through Target reveals that there’s a ton of competition in Kristen’s industry. There’s enough glitter and gold out there to coat every last square inch of our parties and home offices.
So I had to ask: “How the heck does Thimblepress stand out from the crowd?”
Kristen could have immediately jumped into describing the features and benefits of her products. She could have said, “I make everything by hand myself” or “our prices are the best” or “no one can beat our quality!”
Instead, I instantly “got” the story when she shared her customers’ experience with her products.
She told me she’s cried with a widow because a Thimblepress greeting card reminded her of a happy memory with her husband.
And that’s just one example of how Kristen & the team at Thimblepress are constantly creating a platform for stories about how their products touch people’s lives (see their Instagram feed for more.)
Thimblepress leads with their “core values” — right there on the “What’s Our Story” page, you’ll find these words: “Thimblepress knows even the smallest life moments need to be celebrated and cherished, because life is short.”
That’s a heck of a lot more powerful than “we sell pretty confetti”, right?
Resume revolution: go from “passed over” to “dream job”
When you’re a Fizzle member, you get access to live coaching with us every single week. This is hands down my favorite thing I get to do around here.
This week, I was talking with a new member (let’s call her Mary) about her resume writing & career coaching business. When I asked her what her biggest struggle is right now, here’s a rough version of what she said:
“When I send invoices, I only get about 40% of them back. I know my prices are a little high — I charge a couple hundred bucks when I write someone’s resume.”
A little frustrated, Mary kept talking…
“I mean, I’m really good at writing resumes. I’ve done it for a good number of clients now, and all of them have gotten at least an interview after I’ve helped them. Most have been hired within 3-6 months after working with me, and often these people are landing their dream jobs!”
Hold up! Would you pay a couple hundred bucks to work with someone who’s got a track record of landing interviews and dream jobs? I know I would!
It boils down to this: I don’t really care as much how Mary will help me (by rewriting my resume.)
But I really, really care about the story because I see myself in it (I want to get hired by an incredible company and Mary has helped other people do that in a matter of months!)
See that shift? It’s the difference between how you help people and why you help people.
So in closing, I want to ask you: Why should we care about what you’re building?
I don’t care about the features and benefits of the thing, that it’s the fastest or the cheapest.
Instead, show us how your projects make us feel better, more connected and more alive.
Focus on your story, and you just might find that selling doesn’t have to suck so bad.
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 »