Last night was the July installment of The SpitFire Circle, a monthly meeting of small business owners who come together to share their experiences and learn from one another while being challenged to get to the root of their blocks to success. Every month the dynamic is slightly different with a shift in industries represented, from makers to photographers to writers to travel consultants, but one thing has remained true for the last six months, people hate selling!
Whether it’s online or in person, that cringe of icky creeps up in their gut and builds in their throat. You would think they were being tortured. For many it feels like that. The slimy tactics taught in seminars and best-selling books preach tactics like “creating urgency”, “building demand” and “always be closing” and they clearly do not fit for many entrepreneurs.
But with products to sell and bills to pay, they’ve got to make it work, but on their terms.
What If I Suck at Social Media?
Last night this topic came up in our discussion. “I know I suck at sales, but I have to do it” said one maker. “I especially despise selling on social media. I feel extremely disconnected and out of place.”
“So what do you love about your business?” I asked.
“I love making things and designing a product for a need.”
“So what if you could tell the story of your design and share the products with people who would love them and need them?”
“That would be great, but where do I find them?”
“That’s a great question, let’s look at who you’re designing for.”
After some deeper questions, we were able to identify that her customer was a lot like her – sensible, environmentally conscious, appreciated well-made and handmade goods, would spend money for a better product.
We continued the probing questions…
“So what accounts do you really like on Instagram?”
The list of accounts poured out like a coupon stream at CVS. (You know what I’m talking about.) She wrote them down.
“Ok. Now you know what they’re interested in. What if you reached out to a couple of people on those accounts you like and asked them to check your product out?”
“How do I do that? That seems really presumptuous and pushy.”
“It’s all in the tone. Imagine that there is this amazing product out there that you’ve never seen until one day you get a direct message from someone asking you to try it in exchange for posting about it. Does that seem pushy?”
“No. That sounds pretty awesome. I’d love to get free things.”
“This is relationship or influencer marketing. The idea is to build a relationship with people who you think will really love your product. Unlike other tactics where people pay money to post about their product, this is a true business to consumer relationship. Your goal is to connect and maintain the connection with the customer, so when you’ve got new products coming out, you know you can turn to them for some awesome feedback and potential promotion. How does that sound?”
“Awesome, but what do I say? What if they say no?”
“Start a conversation and ask if they’d be interested. If they say no or don’t respond, move on to the next. It’s a numbers game ultimately, so start with 5-7 accounts that you really dig and don’t take it personally.”
Transaction Complete… Now What?
You’ve made the sale as you’ve done so may times before, but then you never see them again.
“How do I keep people’s attention without being annoying?” asked a canine-focused entrepreneur.
“Define annoying.” I asked.
“Well sending multiple emails and salesy posts about products. That stuff gets old.”
“What would you want to hear from a brand you love?”
“Hmm I love fun contests where I can either get reposted or win product.”
“That’s a great place to start. What information are you looking in return from your customers who respond?”
“I want to know what they love about their dogs and why they use my product and not someone else’s so I can tweak the messaging or specifics of the product, but I feel weird asking it.”
“So what’s a more playful way to ask that in a contest-based format?”
“Hmm I could run a competition asking people ‘What do you love about your dog?’ or ‘What does your dog love about our product?’ or I could ask them to post pictures with them using their product with their dog.”
“That sounds awesome.”
Here we have an example of expanding your relationships to build trust while gathering necessary information to help you improve your product or service while providing value.
But what happens if you don’t get any responses?
Keep tweaking the messaging or build your audience. Either the content or the target is off, but the key is to keep trying. You may have a lot of “Nos” or crickets, but trust and believe in the awesomeness of yourself and your product.
About The SpitFire Circle
The SpitFire Circle is a monthly in person meet up in Southwest Washington, DC facilitated by Strategic Business Coach, Lauren LeMunyan. If you’d like more information or to attend, please visit www.spitfirecoach.com/group (Online SpitFire Circles Coming Soon!)