The art of shoveling things down other peoples throat

I’m convinced that a lot of people want to know how to do this artform.  I myself, am going through a throat-shoveling period. Selling has always been a bit problematic for me, because I want to do it my way, and with integrity. I’ve written a bit about it before, with a social media/strategic sales angle, but I want to elaborate more on it.

As I see it with online sales,  the thing you really want people to do is to sign up to get more – get them so close so you know them well (and get them to love you and think you’re cool. If they don’t then they can go someplace else =)

I used to absolutely despise selling offline. I used to hate the “I wanna get money from you guys and I’ll give you something really valuable” and  “let’s meet and have coffee and you can tell me what you can do for me”. Yuck.

Luckily my clients love my work, so that’s not the point. The point is that I am so desperately afraid that people will think I suck =) I’m afraid you guys will hate me if I reach out and say “hey! buy me!”..

BUT – that has changed – Some of you may know that there’s a new guy in Toothless Tiger town – the awesome Mark Bandte, and he’s fantastic at shoveling stuff down peoples throats with integrity and with Toothless Tiger style. Heck I can’t even call it shoveling anymore! I call it “selling to cool cats and kittens”.
But even though Mark is doing wonders for the tiger, the real fantastic transformation is within me. Because I found out that it doesn’t have to be “cold canvas selling”,
Like some sales coaches are saying, and what I was schooled to believe. Sales = bothering people. I will not pick up the phone and call random people! Never ever ever.

I found out that I could actually be really strategic about it and define who I thought was cool enough to work with me, and that I only wanted to work with cool people. I could use all my energy on targeting those companies and give them so much value before they bought anything, so they would buy my hours afterwards – so far it has worked. I’m totally selective to the point of obsession =)

I used to live on a planet where selling was black and white… And now I’ve figured out, that I am actually pretty good at it, and that you can adjust it.  Heck I might even do a “sales with integrity, fuck cold canvas” online workshop. Because I think it’s brilliant, and It has raised my confidence in my approach to other people.

Oh, another person that has changed my views on selling, is Kim Duke of the sales divas.  Her newsletter rocks (it says on the site that it’s only for women, but if the men just cross-dress for this one, I guess it’s ok).

On the danish site of things Anna Thygesen is totally fantastic in the latest episode of the energitte podcast (only in danish) but a 2 hour podcast about sales? I’m totally on (oh and Anna if you’re reading this, I will totally book you to look things over when I think I’m ready for it =)

Who do you think rock sales and why? I’m looking for more inspiration in a field I’ve never seen myself in =)

 

Your product is totally groovy! – right ?

I think it’s amazing to come across some people who have their own startup – or are responsible for selling a product, and who still approach sales and meetings like they are bothering others.

I used to be just like that, but fortunately I don’t think like that anymore. The last couple of months have done so many wonders for me in that direction – both with a new partner in Toothless Tiger, but also with some of my kickass advisors. They have worked on convincing me that I am the best social web strategist out there, and that I am the brain behind the coolest social web agency on the planet.  Because of that, I get to choose who to work with, and not the other way around. I feel truely blessed for figuring this out, and it has taken me a long time.

Radical self-esteem and business-love, people: It rocks!

One of the first reasons not to get that client or that meeting is that you don’t believe in you’re going to get it. You make your product seem like a hard sell, even to yourself.

Well I am here to tell you that your product is totally groovy! It’s like thinking things are easy. Running a startup is a piece of cake. Starting a business is something I only have to do 3 days a week and I still get loads of loads of clients. See?

I want you to think your product is groovy. Because it is, if you threat it as a puppy and not as crap. I’m convinced you’re the most competent person to sell your groovy product – right ?

Have a fantastic weekend rockers=)

How to rock social media for strategic sales

In October I wrote a piece for my blog on amino.dk – that was wildly popular. So I decided to translate it into english and post it here as well – enjoy =)

I have made an ally with an advisor in my business Toothless Tiger
(she’s cool, she rocks and she’s called Mercedes), and I have found out that it might have been her that was the business backbone of Toothless Tiger instead of me. That’s just not an option, because I had to be a large part of the business backbone myself.
She has however, been a lot of value. Kicked my sweet behind and inspired thoughts about my business, and that’s just super cool.

She had me define my sales funnel, something I haven’t been using a lot since I left business school. I know it’s really important, but it’s just not something I have prioritized a lot. 
Now a sales funnel is an interesting tool – especially for me if you do a funnel based on social web – which is my god given metier. When I look at a sales funnel as a model, I see it as a model that’s both really good at defining where you are in your sales process, but ALSO a tool that’s really important if you want to get people closer to your company (warning: social media rant alert =))

(This sales funnel I have borrowed from http://www.getentrepreneurial.com)

Well, what should we use the sales funnel for on social media then? We should use it to get “top of mind” when people need a person in your EXACT field.

Let’s walk through it and start “above the red field” on the model. That’s where you’ll find twitter. Twitter is a promised land to make new contacts (and eventually get new leads). You just need to make it strategically targeted (a good way to start out is to find 5, 10 or 20 people that you really need in your future network, and after that you put aside 1 minute a day to talk to each one of them), no sales-pitchy bullshit; just genuine human conversation.

Between the red and the yellow field is facebook. Facebook is for people who are interested in you, and you want to hear from as a continous part of your network. I see facebook as a bit closer to you than twitter, because people also get access to other information about you (pics, more info), to me, facebook is more about a universe for your current social network, where twitter links to a more “formal” part of you – your webpage or someplace else where there’s a part of you that you want to sell =)

Where it get’s really interesting business wise, is at the beginning of the yellow area: where the newsletter and the blog lies. The newsletter and email are generally fantastic ways to convert social media into something closer to a sale.

So how do you get people from twitter and facebook over on your newsletter or your blog?

1. You ask them 1 after 1 in a context where the initiative is on them. If there’s someone on twitter asking a question about something and you know something about it, then it’s really ok for you to write the answer to them, and then afterwards write “I write a lot about that in my newsletter, would you like to receive it?”. It’s a pretty resource-demanding thing to start out on.

2. Create flagship content (as Chris Garrett would put it). An eBook, a guide, a how to. Something that isn’t available for everyone unless they “pay” for it, either with cash or with an email signup or something. If you want to receive Chris’ eBook about flagship content, you have to sign up to his rss feed on his blog, and in the bottom of the blogposts in the feed you’ll receive a secret link so you can download it. In Denmark I would change the RSS feed subscription with a newsletter subscription, because even though RSS is on it’s way up here, then there’s a lot of people that don’t know what it is – yet.

You get people to download the eBook by writing out about it a couple of times a day in different settings, where you will either generate more content about it (blogpost, video or something else) or take the quotes or comments about it. It shouldn’t look like a sales pitch, because basically people hate to be told what to do (also in a social media context). What you can do is to become active with other things than your own stuff and messages on facebook and twitter. I would say that you need to be 5 times as active in other places/in other conversations as you post things yourself.

Ok, we need to get to the green part of the sales funnel, and we do that through the newsletter (by writing great valuable newsletters, together with good offers – we do that on a weekly basis). When people have recieved the newsletter over time, it would be ok to add them on facebook or twitter or throw them an email and get people into a CRM system where the contact is closer.

Keep constant contact (in most CRM systems they can tell you who you haven’t talked to in a while). You can also add some keywords to contacts in a CRM system. Then, once in a while you go through it all and add tags to those who are potential clients and those who are close to becoming clients (now we are in the beginning of the blue area of the salesfunnel).

At that point the relation is nurtured to the point of knowing what color people like to wear, and they invite you for family birthdays (just kidding).

No honestly, it doesn’t need to be that close, but you could easily write them and ask if they would consider buying your stuff, and they can always answer no. And ta-da! – people from the internet converted into potential clients.

What you’re selling isn’t necessarily what people are buying

Sometimes sales processes mystify me – it’s something I have looked upon for the last couple of months and it’s something that intrigues me. One of the conclusions I have reached for myself in this process, is that sometimes what your selling isn’t necessarily what people are buying. Have you ever done a purchase not with the product in mind, but because you could identify so well with the person behind the product? Because you wanted to get to know them ?

When I was in college there was a girl that kept copying me. She did not have her own sense of fashion at that point, but she had way more money than me, and could spend it as she pleased.

So one day when I came to school (and I will never forget that day) she was sitting in class, having the same curly haircut as me (she wasn’t curly haired at all before), same haircolor and she wore the shoes that I had sworn where the first on my priority when that next paycheck came in. It made me so furious that I went to extremes to find my way away from her. I cutted up two feathered boas (one purple and one orange) and sewed them to the hood and the sleeves on my jacket. I didn’t want anyone to identify with me at all – I soo wanted to be unique, one of a kind. It has haunted me ever since.

Today I found out that I was so much over it. There’s one thing that the girl could never get – no matter how hard she tried. My mind. My personality. My fanatic ways of escaping from normal. She couldn’t get the outsider that desperately wanted to be the outsider, because it was cool. She could only copy her.

Sometimes what you’re selling isn’t necessarily what people are buying. Most times these days  and in the future  products are not sold, products are bought. Identification is a reason for that. Coolness and diversity is a reason for that. I should have thanked her for finding me so fascinating that she was copying every detail of me. But it scared me to pieces. It drove me further away. Today I find peace in who I am, and I think it’s a beautiful feeling to be able to express myself freely and inspire people. I think a large part of what people are buying from me, is me. Henriette.