SportsLizard Entrepreneur Blog

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Selling without actually selling

I recently came across a post on Donyell Nelson's blog about online sales. She talks about how most online sales processes work:

This is the wrong way:

You find a niche.
Setup a website and autoresponder.
You find something to give away so that people will be enticed to subscribe.
*BAM* You have their email address so you send them sales letter after sales letter.....

Every one of us has had that happen. Most of us either unsubscribe from the list or just delete the emails. Rarely does that work. She goes on to explain that you should provide several emails with free useful information to build up trust before trying to sell them. You should focus on developing a relationship with them before you even think about trying to sell them. You should give before you receive.

So why do so many salespeople (online and offline) continue to solicit people with SPAM and cold calls? Yes, a certain percentage of those will result in sales, but it seems like the energy that one puts into those things could be diverted to developing relationships with potential clients by offering them something that you have - by helping them out instead of ticking them off. Anyone who has done cold calling (I have) knows how much it sucks and would much rather do ANYTHING else than pick up the phone again.

Think from the customers perspective - you value the opinions of those you trust when you go to make a purchase. Whether it be a friend, a family member, a business (I listen when Google talks), or someone you respect that has helped you out by giving you something for free, all of them have a much greater impact because you trust them.

Last post, I mentioned a role model of mine, Joe Templin. The reason that he's able to be such a successful salesman is because he's NOT selling - he's helping. That helping leads to trust and leads to sales sometimes. If it doesn't, he still has the satisfaction of knowing he helped someone and also has a new acquaintance that will introduce him to more people. It takes time, but it really does work.

I like to make the analogy to dating - most guys know how hard it is to approach a random girl at the bar and turn that approach into a date (or whatever else your goal for the evening might be). It's possible, but it's definitely not easy. Most of us also know how much easier it is if we happen to know the friend that she is hanging out with. The mutual friend can introduce you and maybe even say a few good things about you. Now your chances just increased exponentially because the girl trusts the opinion of your mutual friend. She's let her guard down and now you can "sell" her :).

When iPrioritize launched, some people told me that I should take the "classic" sales approach and go out and solicit people to buy business accounts. I steadfastly refused because I know that doesn't work - or at least doesn't work as well as other methods. I have focused more on things like giving free accounts to non-profits. Hopefully that will lead to some sales (many people in those organizations also work other jobs that might be interested in a business account), but if not I can sleep a little better knowing that I have been able to give something that hopefully helped some great organizations.

Someone needs to write a book on the "new and better way to do sales"


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