Let’s talk about Sales

Disclaimer: If you disagree with anything I’ve written in this post, please feel free to share your opinions with me in the comments section. My only ask is that you would be kind about it. Sales is a subject matter that is not one-size-fits-all, so if you read this and think something is a good idea, please make sure you adapt it to properly fit your good or service being offered. If anything doesn’t make sense, or you have questions, ask me in the comments below and I’ll try to clarify.

The past few months I’ve noticed a lot more people using their platforms (blog, social media, podcasts, etc…) to make sales. Whether it books, clothing, consulting services… whatever it is, there’s been a huge influx in people selling.

While I deeply admire those who are exhibiting the entrepreneurial spirit in the best way possible, showcasing their goods and creativity, I have noticed a lot of people could be being smarter about the way they’re selling.

Now, that’s not to say that anyone is doing it wrong. If you’re doing it, that’s one hell of a great first step. But, I think it’s important to keep in mind that, very much like life, you should always be looking to improve.

How many sales have you made this week? This month? This year? Are you satisfied with the sales you’ve made? Are you looking to make more? How do you make more sales?

WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

Are you selling your products to a business? Are you selling your products to individuals? Are you selling to men, women or both? Perhaps you’re selling to Gen Z, or even Gen X. Whoever you’re trying to sell your products or services to matters greatly with respect to how you sell. Knowing your audience is so important.

WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE MARKET?

You know, I don’t want to be a debby downer here, but COVID has brought a lot of the world to a screeching hault. There are two things people don’t want right now… ‘nice to haves’ and commitments.

Unless you’re selling an essential good or service, you’re likely going to see some suffering in your ability to make sales. If people don’t need what you’re selling then a lot are likely going to skip purchasing it. This nothing against your product or service, this is a reflection of uncertain times and a desire to keep the money they do have for the things they need, or ‘just in case’ scenarios that could come up.

To speak about commitments… from a psychological perspective, very few people are signing up for something that requires a commitment because of the fact that no one knows where we’re going to be or what the situation will be in a week, two weeks, five weeks or more. If they can’t see that far ahead, the don’t want to sign themselves up for something that commits them to that far into the future.

WHAT IS YOUR VALUE VERSUS MARKET VALUE?

This is a controversial topic because a lot of people believe that if they lower the price of their goods or service they’re lowering the value they provide. When, in reality, it’s likely that your product is only valued at that lower cost anyway.

Take a house, for example. Your house might be appraised at $500,000 (hypothetical numbers). The housing market, while it hasn’t drowned in a COVID world, has taken a bit of a hit. The market value of the home might only be $400,000 right now. That’s not a reflection of the home itself, that’s a reflection of the market. The house is still the same. It’s not as though there’s less of it, or it’s damaged. It’s just a reflection of the market.

Pre-pandemic, people might have spent $50 for what you’re selling because they had the $50 to spend. During pandemic pricing can’t be a reflection of pre-pandemic life. People don’t have that extra $50 to spend right now. They might only have $10. You, selling your product or service at $10 does not devalue the product itself, it shows that you understand market fluctuations. Just let people who purchase know that you reserve the right to raise the price again in the future when the world becomes more stable.

Besides, selling 5 at $10 is better than selling 0 at $50. Maybe, for those 5 people who you’re selling at $10, work out a deal that they also provide you with an online review. Reviews are HUGE for making sales.

Selling a house for $450,000 is a lot better than not selling at all because you’re so damn stubborn. Sure, the housing market could bounce back… eventually. How long are you able to hang onto the house for before you go bankrupt? Sometimes you just have to accept the time the world is in.

ARE YOU PROVIDING CONSUMERS ENOUGH TIME?

This one is very important. In my corporate job, one of the things I’ve been teaching my team is that it takes time for a company to decide upon purchasing our product. It’s an investment. They need to think about it, discuss it, work it into their budget. This isn’t just the case with companies purchasing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of software, this is the case across all industries, platforms and audiences. See, unless your clientele is strictly people with the wealth of Bill Gates, they need to think about the purchases before they make them.

If you’re saying ‘Buy this, it’s such a great deal and it’s only on sale until Monday’… well, whether it’s Tuesday and people have six days or Sunday and people have one day, that’s not enough time.

If someone is very interested in your product or service, at the very least, they need time to budget for it.

When is a typical pay day? Are you factoring in that as a consideration? The first of the month is when rent is due and typically around the time a lot of mortgage payments are due. (Not everyone, just a lot) Often times the start of the month people have less money to play with in their budget then in the middle of the month. If you’re offering a ‘steal of a deal’ that’s only good until the 5th of the month, are you doing yourself any favours? Are you doing your potential customers/clients any favours? No, not really.

Whether your product or service is $10 or $10,000 dollars, you need to provide people adequate time to determine whether or not they can, want to, or should purchase.

DON’T OFFER PAYMENT PLANS

This is an entirely personal opinion, but just don’t do it. Not unless you’re selling a car or house. You’re not a debt collector and you don’t want to be seen as such.

Payment plans are in place for people who require a good or service now, but cannot afford the full price at this moment in time. Thigns like ‘Quad-Pay’ drive me crazy. Payment plans are meant for essential goods, not a purse or a lego set. If someone can get by without what you’re offering, then you’re doing them a disservice by putting them on a payment plan and adding another bill to their long list of bills each month.

If you’re not offering an essential good or service, but you’re offering a payment plan, you’re taking advantage of people by selling them something they cannot afford.

WHAT ADDED VALUE ARE YOU PROVIDING?

This is something we talk a lot about with my day-to-day job. People aren’t purchasing your product to purchase your product, they’re purchasing your product to purchase you. I truly mean that.

How’s your small talk?

How’s your real talk?

Do you care about the people you’re speaking with?

My work sells software. Everyone on earth sells software. If you’re reading this post, you’ve bought software and are using it right this very instant. What makes people buy from us? Not the software, that’s for certain. People purchase from us because of the customer service we provide. People buy from us because of the team of extremely intelligent people with masters and doctorates who line our support staff and are at their beck and call whenever needed. People choose our software because they know they’re not getting software, they’re getting the company too.

How does that relate to individuals, you ask? Well the same concept applies. If you’re an indie author, very few people in this world are just going to purchase your book solely for the reason that it exists. Very few people are going to purchase your book for the reason that it belongs to a genre they enjoy. People are going to purchase your book because of the connection it has to you, and because of the connection that you have to them.

LASTLY, IF YOU CAN, JUST GIVE IT AWAY

You can trial software for several weeks before determining whether or not you wish to purchase it. You can drive cars before determining whether or not you wish to purchase it. There are umpteen thousand things on earth that offer you the opportunity to try, test, read or view said good/service before purchasing.

Why? Because if your product/service is so superior, then providing a free sample of the product/service is going to hook people.

It’s not manipulative, it’s smart.

If you’re a graphic designer just starting out, offer the first design free to show someone what you can do. After that, charge them per design. Until you’re well established, this is going to be a good means for you to drum up business and increase awareness of your capabilities.

If you’re an author and you’re legally allowed, post the first chapter, or even just the first few pages, of your book. Get people excited about the content they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.

If you’re a social media phenom, teach someone the strategy to one platform and they’ll come to you seeking the strategy to others.

I am in no, way, shape or form saying that you should give away everything that you do. I’m saying that you should give away a teaser. Give away a piece… something to excite people… something to get them talking. It incentivizes people.

TO CONCLUDE

Whatever you’re selling, however you’re selling it, just remember to put yourself in the mind of your ideal consumer. Think like they think. Do what they do. If you can truly understand the people you’re trying to make sales to, you’ll have a far easier time making connections and eventual sales.

Remember that sales is not a one-size-fits-all business plan. It differs from person-to-person, industry-to-industry. Do your research. Be flexible. Be confident. Lastly, but certainly not least, be proud. be proud of what you’re providing.

A rant about Facebook Marketplace.

One of the things I promised my parents this year was that I would help them get rid of a lot of the things they’ve been keeping in their house that they really don’t need. A lot of the things they have are worth money, but they’ve been sitting in the dark corners of their basement for YEARS. So, I told them that I’d post these things on Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace to see if they could sell.

My mom solely uses Facebook as a means to see pictures of her grandchildren, so when I mentioned Marketplace to her she said she didn’t want to deal with it. Fair. Fine. I told her I’d post them to Marketplace and deal with the people if she actually went to meet them.

Facebook Marketplace might just be the most aggravating sale platform on the internet.

First and foremost, there seems to be no reason nor rhyme as to what is allowed and what isn’t. I posted a pair of mens NewBalance shoes, Facebook told me that my ad was misleading and against the Facebook Commerce Community Guidelines. I read the Commerce Community Guidelines and it wasn’t in violation, so I appealed their decision.

Also, there are mens sneakers all over Facebook Marketplace, so I really didn’t think that my ad was against anything…

In the mean time, while my appeal was being read, I posed a pair of Ladies NewBalance Sneakers. This ad went up fine. So I presumed my appeal on the men’s pair was going to be accepted.

Nope. Three hours later, Facebook said their ruling stands and that it was misleading of me to post those shoes and it was in direct violation of their Commerce Community Guidelines.

What?

Dear Facebook: The difference between these ads is that one says mens and one says ladies.

Whatever. I left the ladies sneakers up, and just put the Mens sneakers on Kijiji.

Secondly: I honestly thought I was taking the easy job in telling my parents I’d set up a time and place for them to go and meet someone. Nope.

I genuinely think some people just message you to try and piss you off. I get the whole haggling scheme, or trying to score a deal. But if someone says no the first time, people really ought to listen to that.

The following was one conversation, with one person, over a period of six hours yesterday. The person took several long breaks between messaging me but seemed to always come back to try and haggle some more.

Me: Cost is $10. Cash only. Must pick up.
FBMP: Do you take Etransfer?
Me: No.
FBMP: Will you take $5?
Me: No
FBMP: Can I trade you item for item?
Me: No
FBMP: Do you deliver?
Me: No
FBMP: Can you find someone to deliver?
Me: No. You must pick up.
FBMP: They’re not worth $10 though.
Me: Then don’t buy them.
FBMP: Wow, you’re snooty.
Me: Thank you. These are now pending sale. Have a nice night.
FBMP: Okay, I’ll come pick them up right now.
Me: One, they’re pending sale for someone else. Two, it’s 10:30 at night. Goodnight.
FBMP: I’ll come to your house.
Me: No.
FBMP: But I really want them.
FBMP: I can come right now.
FBMP: Come on. Cash in your pocket.
FBMP: Answer Me.
Me: Please stop messaging me.
FBMP: Wow, you’re a bitch.

I’m exhausted just from this one conversation alone. I can’t till if this woman was crazy, intentionally trying to piss me off, or just annoying and doesn’t realize it.

Regretting my decision to add things to Facebook Marketplace.

lol