Selling by teaching and demonstrating

Earlier today I published a guest article Stop Selling and Start Teaching!. In the article, Jessica Swanson tells of her experience with the hard sell in a brick-and-mortar store. She shows clearly how off-putting “the sell” can be and advocates using an educational/informational approach in your online business, to build trust and confidence.

Jessica’s article reminded me of my Dad. He was a “born salesman.” He was one of those guys who could sell anything. He could extract your eye teeth and sell them back to you. And get you to agree he had done you a favor. He did it all by informing, explaining and demonstrating. In his retirement years, he became a crafter. He made tole-painted decor objects and sold them at craft fairs. I occasionally got to see him work his sales craft on customers. He would pick up an object the customer was inspecting and just start talking about it. With great enthusiasm, he would tell ""the tale of how it was made, what materials went into it, and even the history of the particular pattern or the history of tole-painting. He never asked someone to buy something. He just talked to them casually, while showing great love for his creation. Not only did the immediate customer buy the product, but also bystanders who overheard would often buy the same item or other items. He usually drew small crowds just curious to hear his stories. And when he ran out of product, he took orders to make and deliver the sold-out items. He actually build a fan-base of customers who would look for his booth at the craft fairs, buy from him again and again and phone him to make custom gifts to give.

Think about it. What can you do to connect so powerfully with your prospective customers or clients on line? How can you show them the value of your product or service? How can you create for them a demonstration of your commitment to, enthusiasm for and expertise in your field of endeavor? And for those who operate only on line: how can you show your interest in and concern for your customer or client even though you never connect with them face to face?

Turning down business and beating overwhelm

Yesterday, I published one of my own articles about the reasons for turning down new business: Turn Them Down, Don’t Let Them Down. I encourage you to avoid one of the biggest mistakes any organization can make, but one that is most common to solo entrepreneurs. Don’t take on work that you can’t reasonably handle.

Sure, there are a lot of jobs that will strain you or even force you into hiring temporary help to manage. Everyone gets that occasionally. But some work just isn’t worth it. Some work isn’t humanly possible to complete in the contracted time line. Some isn’t possible to do to the exact specifications of the contract. Some is from folks who are impossible to please. You must be able to differentiate the jobs you can do from the jobs that are just too much. If you don’t, you’ll let your client or customer down, you might not get paid, you’ll develop a bad reputation and you’ll ultimately lose business — not only from the disappointed client/customer, but from others. Read the article.

As a related follow-up, I also published a guest article today, How to Get Rid of the Entrepreneurial Overwhelm…for GOOD!, which has a few suggestions for avoiding the ways entrepreneurs find to feel overwhelmed by the distractions of possible work opportunities and marketing ploys. With all the advice on line about how to market, especially the rage for “social marketing,” it’s easy to lose the focus you need to make your product or service better and keep up with the business you already have. And then there is all the advice on how to turn your one current product into a line of fifty products, with little or no effort and create a fortune in multiple streams of income. Not. Don’t get distracted.

The Hype

I just published a guest article Making Money on the Internet — Forget all the Hype — You Have to Work at This by Kathleen Gage. I’m always glad to see article authors who call the hype sellers on their bull hockey. While I don’t want to go off on a rant, I do resent the number of article authors and marketers who promise instant gratification–not to mention pots of money — by using their system to start a website.

Wow, you can put up a website in 10 minutes and start selling today! Sure. Uh-huh. You can fill that website with original and unique content via PLR and content spinners. Yeah. That really works — not.

(Now, I haven’t tried all of the PLR available nor all of the content spinner systems, so I can only talk about my experience in testing them. Pardon my skepticism, but to me it seemed on the face of it that they couldn’t work. Nevertheless, before I came down on the idea, I actually did the research. And, no, I won’t name the products or sites I tested. I will say, however, that I did not shell out any cash to check out the “premium” membership PLR sites. Who knows? Maybe there’s something in them. I’m just not taking the chance just in order to write a couple of articles or posts. I did test both free and non-membership pay for PLR products and found neither worthwhile. Take a free trial, and see for yourself if you think anyone would be interested in a site filled with the “content” some of these methods produce.)

Oh, you can actually do those promised things. It’s just that your site probably will have poor quality, have little recognition by search engines, and sell nothing, or almost nothing. And, no, having a bunch of low-quality, non-productive sites is not the road to multiple-streams of income.

You have to put as much work into a commercial website as a brick-and-mortar business. Sometimes more. At least in your own community you have friends and family to start the word of mouth marketing for your business. On the internet, nobody knows you. Unless, of course, you are a celebrity. Are you? Otherwise you’ve got to work for it.