I've been on here for a while now, and have mostly been the one asking questions and advice, for the many different ideas/schemes I've been involved in.
I've tried many things, online and offline, searching for what turns me on and is worthy of my time. It's been a long journey.
It leads me to today, where I am now selling leads and customers to small businesses, starting to go down the JV broker route to fulfil. There's a lot of hustling involved, and I'm not where I want to be, but I've come a long way, and I'm now well on my way.
My goal is to travel the world with my girlfriend, and work remotely, and I'm starting to get there. We'll be packing our bags in October and setting off, so the touch paper is well and truly lit. Exciting times.
The purpose of this post is to say thank you for the forum's existence, to all those who have helped me through the years, and to pass on some of things I've learned to those less experienced than me. I've asked a lot of questions on this forum, but not really given anything back, so I thought it was time to give back.
I don't profess to know the answers to anything, this is just some advice from someone who was ok at sales, and who is now pretty good. I'm not in the same league as others on this forum, but I'm shooting to be.
This isn't a pre-WSO announcement post either. Maybe one day it'll be financially viable for me to do that, but to be honest, with the money I'm starting to make doing what I'm doing, I doubt that would ever make sense for me.
I don't proclaim to be a guru or a pro at all, and I'd rate myself a solid 6.5/10 sales ability. So this post is also open to any feedback from those that know better, with any advice you think can push me further - the kind of advice I'm grateful for getting me this far.
So first of all, thanks a million to all those that answered my posts and offered your advice. I've taken it all on board in getting to where I am today. There are some talented folks on this forum, who genuinely seem to get a kick out of helping others, by passing on their wisdom. I stand on your shoulders.
Here's what I've learned...
Selling - The ONE Skill That If You Don't Have, You May As Well Leave This Game
If I had to pass on one thing to those who have been on this forum a while, and are still asking questions, it's this.
If you want to make money in this life - online or offline - you need to know how to be able to sell. This isn't even optional. You need to be able to talk to people and persuade them to put their hand in their pocket and pay you money. If you can't do this, you have no place on this forum. Sorry.
If you're into offline marketing, you need to know how to sell, and you need to know how to do it in person, over the phone, and in print. And if you can't sell, and you want to make money, you need to learn how to sell.
The most important factor in this whole thing is not your product, it's not your business model, it's not your pricing, or your tactics. It's your sales skill. THAT is the thing that will determine your altitude.
Do you think you can build a profitable business where everything is automated and Philippinos do all your selling and customer service, and you never have to speak to anyone? Think again.
If you think you can build an offline business without speaking to anyone, by just placing ads and sending emails, that's just glorified online marketing. And I'll tell you this. You need to be able to sell to do THAT too.
I realised my sales ability was preventing me from taking the next step, so I sought advice a few years ago. Someone on this forum - Aaron Doud (thanks man, bit of a car freak like me) - suggested I get a job as a car salesman. I did just that, and in that 10 months, I learnt more about selling than I ever did from ebooks and videos. It was like all the ebooks, seminars, videos, etc, came to life and finally make sense to me.
So my advice, if you're still asking the same small-time questions, like "what email copy to use", "what are your cold calling stats", "what do I sell", and not really getting anywhere? Get a proper sales job for a while, with a proper company, with proper training.
The car sales firm I worked for had a proper residential intensive training programme they put you in. They used a tried and tested sales process that they had you memorise and tested on.
I read car sales books, signed up for car sales email newsletters, spoke to experts, used cheat sheets, tried stuff. My sales ability improved dramatically, and when I went back to my business, I was a vastly improved salesman.
Get good at sales.
The More Tangible The Thing Is You Have To Sell, The Easier It Will Be To Sell
I'm in the lead generation/customer generation game, but I don't sell leads or customers. Nope. Instead, I have customers that need a home, and they're either going to go to you or your competitors. Interested? That's essentially my pitch.
Yes I've tried selling websites, SEO, mobile websites, etc. I've cold called, I've walked the streets trying to flog my wares, and I've busted a gut.
But it was always a tough one trying to sell a 'service'. Businesses don't need or want a service. There is a caveat to this. There is a scale of how near the thing you have to sell is to your prospect's heart.
Check this out. At the bottom of this table is the actual service you offer, and toward the top, the tangible, ultimate benefit your client will experience off the back of what you have to offer:
New car/holiday/more time with kids
Most people on here, or certainly the newbies - as I was - are at the bottom of this table, selling SEO/websites, etc. What you want to do is to go as high up this table as you can with your pitch, because that is the thing that will get the prospect to listen.
If you phone up trying to sell SEO etc, you will just be another marketer. It's a tough sell. But if you can craft your pitch around as high a point up the table as you can get to, then you'll distance yourself from all the others, because you'll actually have something valuable to them.
There's nothing wrong with selling SEO, websites, mobile websites, etc. You just need to sell the ultimate juicy benefit instead.
Get The 'Fear Of Loss' Into Your Pitch
You need to give people a reason to sit up and take notice, and crafting a fear of loss into your pitch will do that. I'm not sure, but I think I once heard that fear of loss is a more powerful motivator than desire to gain.
You need to look at your pitch, and come up with a way to make your prospect think, 'Jeez, I'd better listen to this'. If you give it some thought, I'm sure you can think of a good angle.
I like to use use fear off loss to competition. It depends on which sector or industry you're working in, but if you're working local - window cleaners, plumbers, dentists, etc - then you can use the competitors angle. Let them know you're speaking with their competitors, too. If they've any sense, they won't want to lose some of their patch to a competitor.
Create Some Urgency
Again, trying to get someone interested in something you have to sell, if there is no urgency in your pitch, is a tough sell. If you are merely phoning up to try and drum up business, then there is no urgency there. As far as they're concerned, your product will always be there, so they can simply just turn it down and say they'll get back to you when the time is right.
On the other hand, if you frame it as something that is only available for a few days - especially if you mix it up with fear of loss to their competition - then you have a much more valuable thing to sell. They will take notice.
Make sure its limited availability is believable, and not some cheesy stock scammy sales line.
Frame The Process As You Having The Power And Them Needing You
If you go begging cap in hand with something to sell, the prospect has all the power. They can dick you around, knock you down in price, ignore your phone calls/emails, and generally not respect you.
But if YOU have the power, the gold that they want, then they have to play THEIR cards right.
You want to sit down and create a service/product and a pitch that will make them sit up and take notice. You want to frame it as them having to audition for you for a chance to have a crack. There's a lot of psychology here, and balls of steel to back it up, but if you can make it believable, then THEY will be trying to win YOU over.
You Need To Make Them Feel Like You're Not A One-Man Band
It's hard to get any credibility from people when you're a one man band doing everything, especially if you're trying to woo the big guns.
You want to create the air of prestige, of size, of a team. Create email addresses from sales managers, and customer service managers, and use those in your email conversations with prospects. It creates the image of you being a bigger company. Be hard to reach, in meetings, etc. Use secretary services to take your calls.
You want to seem like you are the man at the top, helping out your sales team, short on time, with a hot piece of gold burning a hole in your hand, with a bunch of numbers to call, to try and shift it. Play people off each other. Mention names if applicable and ethical.
You need to piece this all together.
Getting people interested in "Just wondering if you were interested in me getting your website to the top of Google" is a much lame pitch than "Very quickly, got an emergency here, we have a flow of patients for dentists in your area, but the dentist we were going to send them to pulled out, so our sales team is frantically shortlisting dentists in the area, to see who wants more patients, and then we'll be doing a test run with each of the shortlisted ones to see who we can work with best. These patients need a home, and need to go somewhere. Are you in the market for some new patients? If not, could you recommend some other local dentists locally that want more patients? They need to go somewhere"
Do you see how much more powerful this? It's not some wishy washy service being touted to every Tom, Dick and Harry, that will always be there. It's an actual thing that exists right now, today, that the prospect wants, that if they don't take, then a competitor is likely to take instead.
Of course, you need to be sure you can deliver. But I have safety mechanisms that protect me from start to finish as far as fulfilment is concerned, but that's another story.
Shoot For Big Money Industries
I've seen this a lot on this forum, but it is starting to pay dividends for me. Shoot for big money industries, like dentists, financial companies, etc. The sales/conversion ratios are the same generally. The only thing that differs is the size of the big boss you have to shoot down, and the amount of gatekeepers.
If it takes the same effort to prospect and close a dentist as it does a plumber, why settle for 100s when you can have 1000s? This will test your testicular fortitude of course, but if you can sell crap tor 3 figures to tradesmen, you can sell awesomeness for 4 figures to big firms. The same skills are involved.
It just takes practise to take the shakiness out of your voice, and to sound confident, like you have your shit together.
Don't Hide Behind A Fake Address
Final tip. Be a registered corporation. I don't know what the equivalent is in each country, but don't be a DBA (Doing Business As).
Have a physical address, with a landline phone number, and a company email address (not a hotmail one). People will look you up in the company registry, so be there.
It's worth the money and effort, trust me.
So that's me.
Learn to sell, craft an unbeatable pitch, create an impenetrable business model, shoot for the big guns, and persist. Or get a job.
I'm not setting the world on fire, but making enough to live in a decent place with my girlfriend, and making plans to travel off the back of the work I'm doing. And things are always improving.
I hope this post helps any newbies out there, and like I say if anyone has any feedback for me, feel free to chip in.