Do you want to sell more products or services, but felt like you’ve exhausted all previous sales efforts?
Maybe you have a brand new thing to sell, but you aren’t sure how much your audience will pay for it? Or, you simply want to make a few extra bucks and give your audience an exciting way to purchase what you already make?
This in-depth guide will walk you through these topics:
(Feel free to click any of them to jump to that section or simply keep scrolling.)
Bumpsale is a unique way to sell something using a bump in price after every purchase is made. The idea was originally conceived by me (the person writing to you), Jason Zook, when I created the project IWearYourShirt in 2008. I used the Bumpsale concept back then to sell spots on a daily t-shirt wearing calendar, where each day would increase in price (Jan 1 was $1, Jan 2 was $2, etc). Truthfully, I wanted to create some marketing and momentum with my pricing, little did I know that idea would turn into the Bumpsale app you see today.
Bumpsale does NOT help you sell spots on a daily t-shirt wearing calendar. That’s a very niche business model and we’d have gone defunct many years ago had that been our customer focus. Instead, we took the concept of bumping the price after each purchase and made a much more flexible product.
Bumpsale DOES let you quickly create a buy button that will increase in price after a purchase is made. The increase happens right on the page as your customers look at the buy button.
These are the things you set when creating a Bumpsale (more on the specific steps in the How To Bumpsale section):
As people purchase via your Bumpsale button, the price will bump live on your site. There’s a small snippet of code you add to your sales page that takes care of all the wizardry and selling-magic behind the scenes.
Quite simply, Bumpsale is an incredibly fast and nimble way to sell your product with some fun added urgency.
We know how it goes: You create an online course, a digital book, a photo-pack, a membership site, a consulting call, a package for your freelancing services, or maybe even a Zebra Training Certification program. Whatever it is, you go through the normal sales cycles and while those can work, you want to shake things up a bit.
That’s where Bumpsale comes in! We created Bumpsale to spice up your sales and to give your customers an exciting way to purchase whatever it is you create (especially if it’s Zebra Certifications!)
⚡️ Bumpsale is lightning quick to set up: It’s about 4 clicks of your mouse and your Bumpsale button can be ready to start collecting sales. There’s a step-by-step video walkthrough below if you want to jump to that.
👍 Bumpsale is super versatile: We give you some basic styling options, but if you know some CSS, you can make your Bumpsale button look like anything your heart desires.
👌🏻 Bumpsale will cost you almost nothing: There’s no monthly fee for Bumpsale. There’s no per button setup cost. We simply collect a small 3% fee on every sale made with Bumpsale. Example: If you sell $1,000 worth of online courses, you’d only pay us $30. Not. Too. Shabby!
💃🏻 Bumpsale is fun for your audience: As you’ll see in the Proof of Concept section below, customers actually LOVE buying through Bumpsale. Usually, they’re getting some kind of discount, so that tends to help, but the excitement and uniqueness of a Bumpsale stands out from other standard sales tactics.
Using Bumpsale isn’t reserved just for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or other holiday discounts. We DO recommend using Bumpsale around those times, but it’s also a very successful way to drum up sales whenever you need a little revenue bump!
Bumpsale does not bring an audience to your product (you handle that). We simply have a mechanism that helps make the sales process more fun. The most successful uses of Bumpsale occur when you give your audience a heads-up that you’re going to use Bumpsale, and have them waiting and ready for it (more on this in the How To Warm Up Your Audience section).
It’s not that you can’t use Bumpsale for longer periods of time, we’ve simply seen the best results when a Bumpsale is run through a shortened time period. There’s no perfect amount of time, but 24 hours, 48 hours, 2-3 days, or a week tend to do really well.
Pre-orders tend to work really well with Bumpsale because your audience is getting a discount and more people can get in at a lower price than they’d normally. Plus, the math can add up very quickly with Bumpsale over a standard discount. Here’s an example scenario:
Feel free to use the Bumpsale Calculator to get an idea of how much revenue you can generate with Bumpsale. Here’s a video of the calculator in action:
Looking at the example above, if you were to try to sell your $200 course, starting at $180 and bumping by $1, you probably wouldn’t see any traction at all. There’s simply no motivation for your customers. Plus, the urgency to purchase before the price increases doesn’t really matter. We aren’t advocating that every product has to have an enormous discount with Bumpsale, but the bigger the discount, the more traction and sales we’ve seen happen time and time again. If we look at the example scenario used a minute ago with a tiny discount, here’s how the math works out:
Most likely, your audience has never heard of Bumpsale or seen it in action before. If you don’t clearly explain how it works, it can lead customers to be confused (never a good thing!). Give your audience at least a week’s notice, along with explaining how the Bumpsale will work and what they can expect. (Again, more on this in the How To Warm Up Your Audience section).
We hope this goes without saying, but some folks miss this critical step. Purchasing your own Bumpsale will give you the best experience to see what your customer will see. Did you notice anything weird? Did the redirect URL after a purchase go to the correct place? Did anything else happen that you expected/didn’t expect? Do a test purchase and refund yourself after!
Hopefully, that rest of this guide fills the gaps on the shoulds and shouldn’ts with Bumpsale. There’s an FAQ section at the bottom as well.
ALL OF THEM! Okay, if you’re selling sustainably raised goldfish, you probably won’t use Bumpsale to sell those. But, these things can be sold via Bumpsale and work really well:
Anything you sell, that you are willing to make incremental revenue on, will work with Bumpsale.
My wife and I put together a bundle of online courses, digital books, and a few downloadable goodies called The Vibrant Stuff Bundle (her site at the time was Made Vibrant and mine was JasonDoesStuff).
The total value of the resources inside The Vibrant Stuff Bundle was well over $2,500 if we sold every item in it at full price. But instead of offering a flat discount on the bundle, we used Bumpsale and generated over $20,000 in sales by starting the bundle at $1 and bumping the price by $1 after every purchase. These are the steps we took to create and sell our bundle:
The great thing about doing a bundle is that you usually don’t need to create any new products at all! Sure, you need to create the sales page that explains and sells the bundle, but that’s way easier than building yet another product from start to finish. Plus, who doesn’t love finding ways to repackage existing products you’ve created (while also giving folks a fun opportunity to buy a suite of products from you).
As I’ve mentioned a few times, setting up a Bumpsale is a mere few clicks of your mouse. I’m going to walk through the setup step-by-step, but there’s one important thing to keep in mind:
You need to put a Bumpsale button on your existing website (whether your site is on WordPress, Squarespace, Leadpages, Wix, Weebly, Dreamweaver, Geocities, etc).
As long as you can inject our small piece of Bumpsale code into an area of your website, you can use Bumpsale! And if you aren’t code-friendly, we’re happy to help you figure things out.
This is how you create your Bumpsale account. There’s no need for you to make an actual login, password, etc with Bumpsale. We let your existing Stripe account handle that info. If you don’t currently have a Stripe account, it’s completely free to set up and Stripe is the way to process credit cards (your customers won’t know Stripe exists).
NOTE: Stripe will send a receipt after a successful purchase. If you want to customize the way your receipt looks, you’ll do this in your Stripe account settings.
We do NOT support PayPal with Bumpsale (yet).
You’re rockin’ and rollin’! We told you this was easy. With one click of your mouse, you’re on your way to building your first Bumpsale.
Next up, you’re going to fill out a couple simple fields. You can ALWAYS edit this stuff later, even while a Bumpsale is active (so don’t worry about getting it perfect). These are the fields you’ll fill out:
*Setting your post-purchase redirect URL: Where do you want your customer to go after they finish their purchase? You don’t want them to just land back on the sales page, that’s confusing. We recommend creating a Thank You page of some sort on your website and redirecting to that page. This gives your customer a great experience AND give you a chance to lead them to the next step in the process (if there is one).
Adding social intent on your thank you page is a great way to get someone to share your Bumpsale on Facebook or Twitter. You can use Share Link Generator to make the links, then just add those to friendly share icons on your thank you page.
Note on WordPress: You DO have to publish the WordPress page/post to see the Bumpsale code in action – it will NOT work in preview mode.
Bumpsale is going to handle the purchase itself, but it’s on you to give your customer whatever they just bought from you. This could simply be having your redirection URL go to a page on your website with a promo code to use or a secret link to access your product/service.
We highly recommend using Zapier for digital products (redeeming courses, ebooks, etc): You will use your Stripe account as the first step in any Zapier Zaps.
We cannot recommend this step enough. Use an Incognito Window in Google Chrome, or simply use an entirely new browser. This will give you the complete experience of viewing your sales page and your Bumpsale as a potential customer. Go through the entire buying process yourself and make sure everything works properly.
Huzzzzah! It’s time to get your Bumpsale out into the world and bringing money into your bank account. Feel free to check out our tips below on setting up a sales page and things that help land the sale.
(How you should feel after people buy your Bumpsale.)
This one is easy! All you need to do is log in to your Stripe account, navigate to the Payments area, and click the Export button. You’ll want to select the “Default” option and you’ll find all your customer emails in the resulting CSV.
Another option is to use Zapier to automatically send your customer emails from Stripe and add them wherever you want (more on this in the Zapier section below).
Warming up your audience for a Bumpsale is incredibly important. Did we mention that enough yet? It’s likely your audience has no clue what Bumpsale is, how it works, or why you’re even talking to them about it. That’s why you need to warm them up!
Feel free to copy, paste, and customize this text which helps explain how Bumpsale works (use this in emails and on your website near the Bumpsale button so it’s very clear how it works):
Here’s an example of how we explained a Bumpsale right on the sales page:
From personal experience running multiple Bumpsales, I’ve found that this schedule works really well:
Email #1: Announce the Bumpsale is coming (using the text above) a few days ahead of time
Email #2: Share the link to buy, with a clear explanation of what’s being offered, how great the discount is, and a reminder of how Bumpsale works
Email #3 (24 hours left): Remind people that the time to purchase is running out and remind them how great of a deal the Bumpsale still is*
Social media promo? If you’re promoting your Bumpsale on social media, feel free to give updates on a similar schedule!
*Recommendation: Take the current price of the Bumpsale and divide by the total value of what you’re selling. For example, if your Bumpsale is at $75 and the total value is $400 your customers are getting an 82% discount on the total price!
This section is for you if you want to have some sort of automated event happen AFTER someone purchases your Bumpsale.
Example Zapier automation events:
If you’ve never used Zapier before, it’s incredibly powerful and really easy to use. There is a free account level, but I would recommend opting for the Professional ($49/month) level DURING a Bumpsale (you can downgrade immediately after your Bumpsale finishes). Using the Zapier Professional Plan, you take advantage of the 5 minute Zap runtime, which will give your customers a good experience. You absolutely do not have to use the $49/month plan, we just find it’s best experience for a customer.
Bumpsale is NOT the first step in a Zapier Zap, that will be your Stripe account. After you follow the steps in the Zap creation process to connect your Stripe account to Zapier, you can choose from one of two triggers to use from Stripe:
On the Thank You page, or wherever you redirect someone after a successful purchase of your Bumpsale, make sure you mention that it can take 5-15 minutes to receive whatever you’re triggering via Zapier (an email, etc).
One of the simple triggers after a successful purchase of your Bumpsale is to send an email using the Email By Zapier action. In this email you can add your product redemption itself (maybe a link to a page or a password), or you can simply say thank you and let the customer know what to expect next now that they’ve purchased.
If you currently use your Stripe account to sell any other products at the same time you’ll be running your Bumpsale, you’ll need to use a Zapier Filter to make sure your Zaps only run when the Bumpsale is purchased (and not all products associated with your Stripe account).
After your Stripe account is connected, the Zapier Filter step will give you an option of Only continue if…
In the first input field, look for the entry that has the name of your Bumpsale.
In the second input field, select (Text) Exactly Matches.
In the final input field, type your Bumpsale name exactly as it’s named in Bumpsale.
This will ensure that every Stripe purchase Zapier sees associated with your Stripe account, the Zap will ONLY run if it meets the Filter requirement.
The additional steps in your Zapier Zap will be up to your choosing. Again, you could add your Bumpsale customer to your email list, or immediately add them to your online course, etc.
You do NOT need to make multiple Zaps if you want multiple actions to happen after a Bumpsale purchase. In one single Zap, you can:
All of those would be Actions within the one Zap you create. Yay, you!
You’ll want to double-check that your completed Zaps are turned on and ready to go. You can triple-check this by completing a real purchase of your Bumpsale and seeing if the Zap fires in your Zap History. Remember, it can take 5-15 minutes depending on whatever Zapier pricing plan you chose.
👉 How come multiple people can pay the same price if it’s increasing after each purchase?
If you have a large audience, odds are you will get a handful of people who pay the exact same price for your Bumpsale. I’ve had this happen multiple times and it’s simply a byproduct of having a larger, engaged audience (that’s a great problem to have!)
Your Bumpsale button will automatically bump the price as insanely fast as possible after a purchase happens. But… if someone clicked the Bumpsale button and they’re looking at the purchase pop up window, that customer’s price is locked in until the Bumpsale timer expires.
Even if you have multiple customers pay the same price, Bumpsale will keep track and update the button with EACH purchase (regardless if the same price was paid or not). Example: If your Bumpsale button is at $20 and 5 people click it at the exact same time before another purchase happens, each time one of those 5 customers completes their purchase the Bumpsale button on your sales page will increase based on your bump price setting.
We do NOT recommend setting the Bumpsale timer to anything less than 180 seconds. It can take a minute or two for people to fill out their payment information. You’d rather have happy paying customers, than angry customers who had a buying window close on them and they missed out on the price they were looking at.
👉 Does Bumpsale create my sales page for me?
👉 I’m not a CSS expert, do I have to use the CSS provided in the Bumpsale installation instructions?
We would highly recommend at the very least copying + pasting our Bumpsale CSS and adding it to your website. Otherwise, your Bumpsale button is going to look pretty crappy. Odds are you know someone who knows CSS and they’d be willing to help you for the price of a beer or cup of coffee.
👉 Does Bumpsale bring customers to my sales page?
We wish! You bring the customers to your Bumpsale. I’ve personally seen amazing results using the social intent on a thank you page after a Bumpsale purchase. Don’t be shy in asking someone who just bought from you to share that they purchased (because hey, how the heck often do you run a Bumpsale??)
👉 Can a Bumpsale button expire after a certain number of purchases or certain amount of time?
It cannot. While Bumpsale is smart, you’ll have to be the one to turn it off. And by turn it off, we simply recommend removing the button itself from your sales page. There is nothing that needs to be done in Bumpsale itself to “end” a Bumpsale.
👉 Why only Stripe? Why not PayPal?
Guh, PayPal just sucks. It’s an awful experience. For years we’ve tried to get PayPal added and it’s a huge thorn in our side. Eventually, we’ll support PayPal, but Stripe makes everything sooooo smooth and simple.
👉 How long should I run my Bumpsale for?
Again, we recommend a shorter time period for your Bumpsale. Anything over one week is pretty long and the urgency built into using Bumpsale kind of wears off. We recommend running a Bumpsale for a minimum of 24 hours and a maximum of 5 days. But hey, if you want to use it for longer than that, it’s completely up to you!
👉 If I have trouble with Bumpsale who should I contact?
Ghostbusters! No? Send an email to conrad (at) cdevtech.com and jason (at) wanderingaimfully.com. We’ll happily answer any questions you have!
I’d like to start this two-week video journal off with a huge disclaimer: These videos are meant to be a confessional of sorts. Very little editing or bells and whistles added. Why? Because it’s damn hard work selling a high-value product and that focus needed to be spent on all the things you’ll hear about in the daily videos.
The reason this journal exists is that it’s the exact type of thing we love to read/watch from other entrepreneurs. We hope you feel the same way!
For context, the high-value project we talked about is BuyOurFuture (BOF) and it was sold for $2,000. This two-week video journal was created in September of 2017.
When I say “I” and “We” that would be me (Jason Zook) and my awesome wife Caroline Zook. Hey look, we’re real people:
Here are the things I talked about in this video and tried to remember to link to (hehe):
Here are the things mentioned in the video:
Here are the things mentioned in the video:
Here are the things mentioned in the video:
You’ll notice we’re a bit brain-fried in this video! That’ll happen during a launch. We talk about a high touch experiment we wanted to try with video replies. We also answer a question about imposter syndrome or how you know if what you’re selling has value?
We’re also exhhhhhaaaaauuuusted after two long days of recording personalized video replies. We knew it would be a ton of extra work, and luckily that work has paid off in more ways than one!
We’re at the end of our 2-week launch of BuyOurFuture (which turned into a 3-week launch with a pause in the middle). We chat about what happens on the last day as well as the live Q&A we hosted yesterday.
How many sales did BuyOurFuture do this launch? What percentage of people picked our $200 payment plan? What are we doing next? What big lessons did we learn? Answers to all those questions and more in the final video journal entry of this series.
Thanks for checking out our video journal and supporting our projects!
Whether you’re writing email pitches, sales copy, newsletters, or any other form of writing that sells your product or service, sometimes it can feel like a painful slog.
One small mindset shift that’s really helped me is to change my thought process from:
I’m writing this sales email or sales copy to convince someone to buy.
I’m writing this sales email or sales copy to help someone get better at XYZ.
I used to labor over the words I was typing and wonder why it felt so icky and uncomfortable. I realized I was trying to convince people to buy something, instead of simply sharing how my product or service could help them.
I know it’s not just me, either. I’ve heard from so many people over the years that a mental block appears when it comes to writing anything sales-related. These questions tend to pop up too:
It’s hard to sell as it is, but it’s even harder when you have a mental writing hurdle to overcome before you even get to the selling part. Creating a daily practice for writing is a great way to build writing confidence (just sit down for 30 minutes every day for two weeks and write at least 500 words). This will help you find your writing voice and have your writing come off as genuine and natural. (Yes, even for sales copy!)
What is the outcome your customer can achieve with the thing you’re selling? If you’re creating an online course, your instinct will be to write about the lessons and bonus content included. Instead, you should be focused on the subject of the course and how your potential customer can improve in that area of their life or business.
Example (wrong): Buy my course on starting a podcast. You’ll learn what microphone to buy and what podcasting host to use.
Example (right): If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of starting a podcast, this course will break podcasting tasks into bite-sized pieces that you can knock out without any previous technical knowledge.
If you’re anything like me you might not even know that writing formulas exist? Apparently, I was using a writing formula a few years ago and I had no clue. My editor Chantel surprised me one day and asked me if I knew I was using a formula (you can imagine her surprise when I said “nope!”). I stumbled into using a formula through tons of trial and error, you can avoid all the stumbling and learn about three writing formulas in this video:
(That video is a lesson within a course called The Imperfect Writer. If you like that lesson, and feel overwhelmed when it comes to writing sales copy, our course might help you!)
These can be used if you need a boost of inspiration on what to write and how to position your sales copy for your potential customers.
When we stay in the world of convincing, we will always feel a tinge of inauthenticity. It’s almost as if our words are trying to pry someone’s wallet out of their pocket or purse with a crowbar.
When we shift to the world of helping, it feels genuine (both to us and our potential customers). The crowbar is gone and the wallet emerges on its own terms.
Since 2008 I’ve sold thousands of things: Sponsorships, consulting calls, public speaking, books, courses, software, etc. I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning and often times my sales emails and sales copy fell flat. But after doing the exact (simple) things I’ve shared here, I’ve stopped being my own worst enemy and stopped letting my writing hinder my success.
Nowadays I’m very proud to hear comments from customers like: “I can tell you care about the people you are selling to and that’s why I bought” or “I appreciated that you weren’t selling the dream, you were telling me how your course could actually help me learn a skill.”
Your words aren’t going to go out and write themselves. It’s time for you to take action.
I’ll admit, even three years into my business, that process was not entirely comfortable to me. There were still plenty of moments before I hit send on a sales email or posted an announcement to social media when I thought to myself: Is this too much? Am I being too “salesy”? (Whatever that means.)
My guess is you’ve been there too with a product or service you’ve tried to sell. Maybe it felt weird. Maybe it STILL feels weird.
Well this week I wanted to share with you how I’ve learned to push past those fears and sell in a way that feels authentic to who I am and in a way that feels aligned with Made Vibrant as a brand.
At its core, selling is an ASK. It’s going out on a limb. It’s putting yourself in a position of potential rejection, and the truth is that we’re hard-wired to avoid rejection. My bet is, if you’re afraid to sell something you’ve made or promote it more, the #1 thing holding you back is this feeling of vulnerability.
You’re worried someone will judge you for trying, or that someone will call you a “sellout,” or maybe you’re worried no one will buy so deep down you’d rather protect your ego by not really trying to promote at all.
I’m certainly not immune to this. I told Jason when he came to me with the idea of combining forces for BuyOurFuture that I didn’t think anyone from the Made Vibrant audience would buy. In fact, I told him I felt incredibly uncomfortable making a $2,000 ask to my audience, especially when my products normally range from $20 to $400.
Where was all this self-doubt coming from? The truth is, I was afraid. Afraid of putting myself out there and being rejected. Using the rules I outline in this article below, I was able to push past that fear, and boy am I glad I did because the Made Vibrant crew actually brought in 25% of our BOF sales (THANK YOU for that, by the way.) 35% of sales were attributed to Jason’s audience, 35% attributed to sources outside our audiences, and 5% were attributed to both of us. That outcome just goes to show you that challenging our assumptions about ourselves and risking that vulnerability can actually pay off.
We’ve all had that awful feeling when someone is making a “hard sell” to us in a situation that feels unwelcomed. Maybe it’s a sleazy car salesman trying to “close the deal” when you’re only browsing or one of those mall kiosk people chasing you down to rub “life-changing” lotion on the back of your hand or even an internet marketer pulling the old bait and switch on a webinar that they’ve insisted is information only. Ew, right? Those feelings usually feel extremely dissonant to us and conjure up feelings of dishonesty and unease.
That’s why when it comes to selling ourselves, we’re acutely aware of NOT creating those feelings for other people. As sensitive humans interested in living authentically, we’ll do anything to avoid being lumped in with those kind of promoters in the world, the pushy ones, the chasers, the bait-and-switchers.
It would be fantastic if we all made our amazing products and the amazing-ness was enough for people to find them, buy them, and love them. But, unfortunately, in this attention-fragmented world, that’s just not the case.
There are SO many messages people are getting every day, and in order to make a purchasing decision, sometimes they need a bit of convincing.
When I said that word convincing just then, did it make your gut wince a bit?
My guess is it did because you don’t want to “convince anyone of anything.” Am I right? I know this because that’s exactly how I felt too. Until I realized that even the most eager customers want some level convincing.
Heck, even I, headed to Madewell to purchase a replacement pair of my FAVORITE black skinny jeans (because my other ones that I wear every single day wore a hole right in the crotch ), even I want a little convincing while I’m in that darn store. And I drove to the mall with the intention of buying! Even in that scenario, a sales associate telling me that those are her favorite pair too or that the wash looks great on me — those are sales messages I welcome because I want to WANT to buy those jeans. Know what I mean?
The point is: People want to feel good about the money they spend and the purchases they make. So persuasion doesn’t have to mean manipulation; it can simply mean offering up as much honest information as you can about your product/service and its benefits so that the person purchasing feels great about spending their hard-earned money on your stuff.
So by now you might be thinking… yeah, yeah… I already KNOW why I hate the idea of selling, but what the heck do I do about it?! Great question.
Fresh off of the BuyOurFuture launch window, a time when I’ve done more “selling” than any other project in my life, I thought I’d offer up my personal five rules for selling authentically. These are the ways that I’ve developed over the years to overcome some of the hangups listed above, while still feeling true to who I am in the process.
This should be Online Business 101 stuff here, but it begs repeating. For any of you out there who haven’t come across this basic tenant of digital marketing, here’s the first foundational key of building an audience that trusts you enough to pay for your products or services (especially as an infopreneur or freelancer) — GIVE before you ask to take.
In business as it is in friendships, it’s about trust. Every time you deliver value to someone without asking them for anything in return, you’re making deposits in a trust bank. You’re showing them that your primary focus is not to squeeze every last cent out of them, it’s primarily to HELP and secondarily to earn your living.
Now, the downside of this giving model is that in a world where we have free YouTube tutorials and free blog posts and free email courses and free ebooks… the reality is that there will be an expectation among certain followers that they can get everything from you for free. These people might be especially enraged when, after weeks and weeks of, say, helpful Mondaymorning emails and free workshops, you release something with a price tag on it.
That’s okay. That’s the cost of doing business, and you can’t worry about a small faction of your audience that has no intention of helping you support yourself.
That group of people, however, is different from the group who may never buy from you but who love and appreciate every ounce of free value that you offer. In order to make this give-then-ask approach feel sincere and not like a transactional way to guilt people into buying from me, I’ve mentally made the decision that if someone stays on my email list for the entire life of my business, signs up for every free workshop and downloads every free worksheet, and never buys a single thing — the genuine truth is that I care about that person as a member of Made Vibrant too. I make that decision in my mind because then delivering value does not become about trying to create some sort of power dynamic where you expect something in return.
Finally, notice I said give before you ask, not “give before you take.” In order for selling to feel authentic, you have to remember that it’s an ask, not a demand. Framing it that way in your head will help you write language that separates you from the mall kiosk salesmen that you’re trying to so hard to distance yourself from.
Now let’s talk about the context under which you’re promoting yourself or selling a product.
In those examples I listed of times you and I have been sold to when it felt icky, it’s not necessarily because of the selling exclusively (hello, we humans like to BUY stuff in case you haven’t noticed.) It was likely the context under which you were being sold that made you feel uneasy. It was likely in a scenario where you were being interrupted. You never raised your hand or provided permission for that person to peddle their wares to you, so it probably felt especially abrupt to be pulled out of your current objective and state of mind to listen to a sales pitch.
Instead of providing an interruption for people, try providing an invitation for permission. Seth Godin talks about this a lot, but it goes back to what we discussed in the last point: trust.
Someone could offer you permission in the form of signing up for your newsletter, or making a previous purchase from you, or clicking through an email or even following you on social media. They have said, “Hey, I’m interested in what you have to say,” therefore you’re no longer interrupting them without prior context.
(This is why private Facebook messages from your college friends trying to sell you Rodan + Fields or [insert other product here] feel weird to you. You haven’t given permission to be sold to so it feels out of context.)
The first two points are helpful basics for selling authentically, but this point is the ultimate key to not feeling gross when you’re promoting: Make sure the thing you’re promoting is GREAT.
It becomes SO much easier to sell to your audience when you believe sincerely in the benefit that your product or service offers. When you focus on that and re-frame selling as a way to help improve the lives of people with your kick-ass product, then it becomes a HECK of a lot easier.
Think of it this way: someone, somewhere is desperately looking for the awesome thing you’re offering. (If they’re not, you may want to rethink your product or service concept.) How happy will they be if they’re able to find your product? But, that’s not going to happen if you don’t tell anyone it exists.
AKA it’s perfectly okay to not want to be broke. There’s no shame in the earning-a-living game.
Whenever I feel uneasy or scared about putting myself out there and promoting my projects, I remind myself WHY I’m doing it in the first place. Not only do I believe in the things I create and the value they offer, but I have no problem admitting the life I want for myself includes being my own boss. I can’t maintain that life if I don’t earn money, so when it comes time to launch something or promote it, I remind myself of the two choices I have: 1) avoid the fear of selling but risk not making any money OR 2) put myself out there so I can keep doing this work that I love.
We don’t get mad when the plumber sends us the bill for fixing the toilet. Not if it’s fairly priced and he did a good job. That’s because we understand he’s using his skills to support his lifestyle and his family. So, remember, you’re doing the same.
Mostly I’ve found that what makes selling easier is by simply talking like a REAL person, a person who has a thing they sincerely believe can help another person.
It’s about being honest, and it’s about being earnest.
If I lead with transparency and sincerity, ultimately I feel people can sense that. And if my product isn’t a match for what they need, at least they know I’m not trying to swindle them into something.
Here’s the last caveat that I’ll add to all of this: Remember that you are MORE than your sales. Or your bank account. Or your social media followers.
Sometimes you’re going to create things that no one buys and you’re going to wonder WHY. You’re going to feel like you went out on a limb, you overcame all the fears I listed out above, and you tried to sell in a way that felt true to you. And YET — you’re still going to feel like you did something wrong.
Please don’t let that feeling stop you. Take a look at your plan and view it as an experiment. What can you change? Can you provide more value or context up front to earn trust before you make the ask? Can you tweak your product so it’s even more amazing and a no-brainer? Can you adjust the language in your sales pitch to be more honest and authentic to who you are?
Selling is not easy, but it does get more comfortable the more that you do it. You gain confidence every time you shimmy out on that limb and you make the ask.
People can’t buy what they don’t know about, and people WON’T buy what they don’t care about.
Do it in a way that feels honest and contextually relevant. Lead with value. Communicate in a way that sounds like YOU.
THAT is how you earn a living while making the world a better place with your creative gifts. And there’s certainly no shame in that.
I see this trend a lot in the online business world. Well-intentioned folks will build a website and brand, set up social media accounts, have a goal or mission, and spend a ton of hours getting ready to sell.
But then, something happens. Self-doubt creeps in. The second-guessing police show up at the door. Defeated, these well-intentioned people shy away from promoting and selling the thing they’ve worked so hard on. They say “no” on their customers’ behalf…even before the customers can decide for themselves.
Working for yourself isn’t easy. You have to wear all the hats (and most of them feel like ugly fedoras). You have to juggle all the balls (hehe). You have to be a salesman/saleswoman. People are going to say no to you, because what you are selling is not right for everyone.
THIS. IS. OKAY.
If you fear rejection so much that it holds you back from promoting and asking people (more than once) to buy your product, running your own business may not be right for you.
And besides, working for someone else is not a bad thing. Sure, you aren’t going to end up on the front page of Inc. magazine, but who really cares about that, anyway? If it crushes your soul to ask people to buy things, work for someone else who is already doing that asking. Take a paycheck for work you don’t loathe, and live your life in a way that makes you happy.
You may not even realize it, but you’re saying no for people by staying quiet about your idea.
I’m not advocating that you start hammering people with marketing and sales messages left and right. But I am advocating that you give your idea a chance. Put in effort, aim for a yes, and actually let people say no on their own so you can learn from the experience.
Remove these things from your mind or vocabulary:
All of those are self-defeating thoughts, and thoughts that put the word “no” in someone else’s mouth before they can even do it themselves.
Instead, muster up the courage to promote and sell whatever you’re working on and embrace the actual no instead of the imaginary one.
When you do hear “no,” don’t just hide away to lick your wounds. See if you can learn more:
These are questions you should ask the people who say no to you. Don’t look at it as punishment, either. Look at it as a learning experience, and tweak/hone your promotion and sales strategies. Because I’m here to tell you, whatever you’re trying to sell isn’t going to sell just because you have a website, brand, Instagram account, testimonials, etc.
Selling takes effort, so be proud of the fact you’re hearing no because it means you’re actually doing the work.
Stop saying no for someone before they have a chance to.
I want you to imagine a number in your mind—a guess about how many times I’ve heard “no” to my ideas. Whether it was trying to convince companies to buy my t-shirt advertising space, place a bid to own my last name, sponsor a page in my first book, or buy one of the 20+ products I’ve released in the past few years.
Do you have your number?
If your number was under 100, you have a lot of faith in me and I love you for that, but oh no, I’m so sorry. You were way off.
If your number was lower than 4,000, you would still be wrong.
I’m sure the actual number of times I’ve been told “no” when asking someone to pay me money for something (since 2008) is higher than 4,000. Here’s how I can say that:
And boy oh boy, have I racked up the “nos.”
People aren’t saying “no” because you’re a bad person.
Early on, I took a “no” to mean I was doing something wrong and that I should feel bad about it. What I started to realize though was not that I was a bad person, it was simply that my ask wasn’t a good fit for the person on the other end for a myriad of reasons.
Sometimes people don’t even have to say the word “no” to you. They simply don’t reply to your ask. They don’t buy your product. They don’t take an action you’d like them to take. Again, even these things don’t mean you’re a bad person.
Here are a few different examples of why people say “no” that have nothing to do with you (or me) as a person:
I see this all the time. In fact, I tend to see it every year during the months of June, July, August, and December. Those are the worst months, historically, for me, and the onslaught of “nos.” People are busy with other things. They’re trying to take time off. Or, it’s the end of the year and they can’t be bothered. I do not control the timing and schedules of other people, therefore, I am not a bad person.
You simply can’t do anything about other people’s budgets. You can’t. If I could, I would invent a magic wand that increases all budgets. I would have waved this wand more than Harry Potter (budgetus increasimus!).
Well, guess what? You and I didn’t create their marketing plan! Moving on.
I don’t get this one as often with my weird ideas, but I do get it with products I sell that have been similar to other products out there. We can’t change a person’s experience with another product. We can give them an opportunity to change their mind by explaining how our product or service is different (and how it specifically solves a problem for them).
This is the only example on this list that gets a bit tricky. It’s either a problem with how you and I are explaining our project and the value proposition behind it or the person we’re trying to get a “yes” from just doesn’t get it. I imagine you know I’ve dealt with this a time or two with my weird ideas.
I could go on and on with more examples but the point is…
You need to remove yourself, and the feeling of being personally attacked when someone says “no” to you.
This was a little trick I wish I’d stumbled upon way earlier in my time as an entrepreneur. Regardless of where you are in your journey, maybe this trick will help you going forward.
When I was pitching sponsors for my first book project, I had the company Gumroad on my list. (Gumroad is a company that can help you sell digital products.) I thought they’d be the perfect fit for the cover sponsor of my book (a $20,000 ask). Through some Internet sleuthing, I found a guy on Twitter who was doing marketing for Gumroad.
I sent my pitch email about my $20,000 sponsorship request (ballsy, yes) and was happy to get a quick reply from the guy. Unfortunately, quick replies typically go one of two ways:
1. The person is on-board immediately and you’ve won! You can now swim through your money like Scrooge McDuck.
2. The person says “no” and you have to go back to the drawing board.
The quick response I received was a #2 type of response (and yes, I meant that as a poop euphemism). For some odd reason, I wasn’t ready to accept defeat in that moment. I fired back an email that went something like this:
“Hey ! Thanks for the quick reply. I totally understand this type of sponsorship isn’t a good fit for everyone. That being said, is there any chance you think of anyone off the top of your head that might be a good fit? If you have an email address or have the time to make a super quick intro, I would greatly appreciate it!”
I had no clue if that message would actually get a worthwhile response and any meaningful introductions. But hey, as the not-so-old-adage-you-just-learned goes, you don’t get what you don’t ask for!
I received a reply, and it was exactly what I’d hoped for (not always the case… budgetus increasimus againumys!) The guy had two companies he thought would be interested and he was willing to make a short email intro for me. BOOMSHAKALAKA! (NBA Jam ref, anyone?) Needless to say, I was stoked.
That email response lead to two introductions. One of which was the CEO of a company called Treehouse, an online education platform. I’d actually met the CEO, Ryan Carson, at one of Future of Web Apps (FOWA!) conferences many years prior. While the introduction was great, I still had to put in the work to convince Ryan that Treehouse would be a good fit for the $20,000 sponsorship I was asking for. And spoiler alert: Ryan and Treehouse said YES, which you can read more about in the SponsorMyBook story.
Now for some honesty, because that’s how I roll: Landing Treehouse for my book has, to date, still been my biggest victory in turning a “no” into a “yes.” Sure, I’ve had a handful of other victories over the years. However, I’ve had my fair share of additional “nos” as well. And the pile of additional “nos” is exponentially taller than the pile of converted “nos to yeses.” But I just keep trying.
I want to succeed more than I’m afraid to fail.
I want the dream more than I fear the rejection that comes from making an ask.
I want to succeed more than I’m afraid to fail.
I know from experience that every “no” is another opportunity to hear “yes” later on.
I’m willing to put myself out on the line, because I know that’s what it takes to have incredible things happen in life.
I hope you want those things for whatever it is you’re trying to get. Because if you don’t, then it’s time to figure out what you’re really looking for.
A challenge for you today: try to get a “no” on one of your ideas. Email a potential sponsor, press send on that podcast interview request, or just ask your local Krispy Kreme to make you some Olympic ring donuts (video below). “Sometimes, when you make a crazy request, you get an awesome answer.”
As I was putting together the finishing touches — formatting the magazine, finalizing graphics, creating the daily challenge booklet — I found myself reflecting back on the evolution of this strange idea I had over a year ago.
My vision was to create a monthly mindfulness experience, a kind of peaceful, soulful and heartfelt alternative to a lot of the overwhelming content I was starting to see geared toward creative entrepreneurs:
I was seeing so many articles about how to DO more; so few articles on how to BE more.
So many people teaching you their blueprints on how to make, sell, and promote; so few offering you a means of self-awareness to write your OWN blueprint from scratch.
This weird hybrid subscription idea was hard to communicate, mostly because I’d never seen anyone create something like it. Kind of a membership community; kind ofan art experiment; kind of a digital magazine; kind of an online course subscription.
The form felt a bit nebulous, but the mission was always clear: cut through the noise to deliver insightful and inspiring content that would help people feel closer to their core selves.
The only problem, I quickly learned, is that people are already convinced they NEED the “how to do more” stuff. They are willing to pay for something that feels like an easy step-by-step process to a guaranteed return on their investment. (By the way, I know this because I consider purchases in the exact same way. What am I going to get out of this? Will my money be well spent? It’s a natural part of purchasing psychology.)
As it turns out, that makes promoting something like Color Your Soul a bit of a challenge.
Our little community has reached more than 50 active subscribers now, all of whom I’m so grateful for. But let’s be completely transparent here — the revenue generated by those 50 subscribers to this unique product is far less than what I’d make if I created the 124th “How To Succeed on Instagram” e-course. That’s just the truth.
I want to share that fact honestly with you all because I KNOW so many of you creative entrepreneurs are faced with the same dilemma out there:
Ie. Do I go with the sure bet or do I gamble on a vision that feels uncertain?
Well, only YOU can truly answer that question for yourself and your business, but here’s the real heart of the message I want to hit home with you today: the fact that it is more challenging to sell something with deeper, more intangible benefits does not mean that it is impossible, nor does it mean it’s a bad business move.
If you gave me the option of standing on a street corner and selling Big Macs or selling a delicious and healthful kale salad, I know which of those options is going to be the “winning” business venture. The Big Mac is scrumptiously artificial and instantly gratifying. The kale salad? It may also be delicious (let’s assume it is) but its real benefit is in the nourishing impact it has on your health and your body. That’s a selling feature with a payoff that’s hard to fully communicate.
But you know what? When given the option, I will choose to sell the kale salad every time.
With so many Big Mac products already for sale out there — delicious and gratifying, sure, but ultimately artificial — I will happily challenge myself to continue to create healthful kale salads in my business because I want to continue to create things that are nourishing, both to MY soul as the creator and to YOUR souls as the recipients.
You have to remember that there are all kinds of different value metrics to measure when it comes to evaluating your ideas. Money is just one of them.
There are also things like impact (does this project help a lot of people?); growth (does this project help me grow in a way I desire?); and, my all-time favorite, whole-hearted expression(does this project allow me to express my core self in a way that feels good to my soul?)
Color Your Soul definitely fits squarely into that last category. What it lacks in highly scalable profits, it more than makes up for in the immense joy I get putting it together and in seeing the real, lasting change it creates for subscribers. I get to use SO many of my gifts and learned skills in one single project, and the final outcome is something that feels uniquely ME through and through. I would never want to trade that experience for something that is “easier” to sell.
We as creative (and soulful) business owners must come to terms with this: Some things are just simply harder to sell. And that’s okay.
Oftentimes the things that are more pure of heart or enriching to the soul, they aren’t the things that people are convinced they need. But that doesn’t automatically mean they aren’t worth doing or that they can’t contribute positively to the overall economics of your business. That’s why it’s so important to establish your values as a business so you can see those more intangible benefits more clearly.
For myself and for Made Vibrant as a business, my central driving ethos remains to choose what is TRUE to my core over what is easy, every. single. time.
As we wrap up 2016 and you take a look at the projects you’re considering for the new year, my challenge this week is for you to take another look at that idea you have that you LOVE but that you’re afraid no one will want or buy.
It may not be easy to sell, but does it feel TRUE to your core? If so, could it be time to give yourself permission to go for it anyway? Will you look back and be glad that you went for the kale salad instead of the Big Mac? (If you hate kale salad, feel free to replace with the healthful treat of your choice.)
Running a values-based creative business is complicated stuff. It’s always a delicate puzzle determining which ideas are worth pursuing, which ones will bring you money (because there’s nothing wrong with earning a sustainable living), and which ones you want to tackle because it lights up your heart.
The fact is, the only person who can navigate that delicate puzzle is YOU. But I hope in pulling back the curtain just a tad and showing you that profits aren’t the only measuring stick for the projects I take on within Made Vibrant, that you feel empowered to see your creative business ideas perhaps in a new light.
Wishing you all a wonderful week!
Selling is not reserved for “salespeople.” We are all salesmen and saleswomen. It’s time to overcome your fear of selling.
People who sell things come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. You’ve probably purchased something from one of them in the past hour/day/week (without thinking you were buying from a salesman/woman).
Unless it’s food. Then you don’t need convincing because that’s just survival. Well, maybe not donuts? Actually, yes. Donuts = Survival.
The very first thing you need to do (and that I learned the hard way) is to stop letting your assumptions drive your decisions. Thinking these thoughts is not going to help you and most are completely fabricated by our brains:
“People are going to think I’m selling out.”
“What if someone doesn’t think I’m a good person once I start asking for money?”
“What if I put something up for sale and no one buys it and I look like a complete fraud??”
These are things we’ve all thought. They are also all assumptions until they actually happen. (Which means they’re usually false.)
Acknowledge your assumptions but don’t let them dictate your decisions.
Assumptions suck and can derail your future success if you let them. So guess what? Don’t let them! Acknowledge your assumptions, write them down if you want to get them out of your head, and then move on. Want to feel empowered over your assumptions? Write them down on paper and then burn that paper! (Just, you know, burn it in a safe place.)
We assume we know what it means to sell, and as a result, we never bother to learn what it actually means. What’s worse, we fail to differentiate it from selling out. The two are very different.
If you work at a dead end 9-5 job and hate your boss, you’re a sellout. If you feel like you’re asking people to pay for a product you don’t believe in, you’re a sellout. If you get paid to smuggle rare Indonesian birds, you’re a sellout. (This one might not apply now that I think about it; however, still bad.)
But if you’re selling something you believe in? If you’re offering a product, service, or opportunity you’ve created and want others to be helped by? That’s not selling out. That’s just selling. And that’s your job.
So let’s talk about doing your job.
There are so many ways you can sell something, especially online. It’s incredibly helpful to pick a selling schedule that works for you. Here are some that have worked for me, currently and in the past.
Sell something for a certain amount of time (say, one week), and then “close the cart.” Assess how things went, especially if it’s a new product or your first time selling. Having an open-and-closed launch (annually or on any other schedule) can create urgency and scarcity for your customers while allowing you to maintain a nice work-life balance: busy during launch, and then off enjoying your life the rest of the time. Selling via open-and-closed launches is also great because it puts you in control of when you need to spend time being in the selling mindset. No one wants to be selling all the time (sorry Alec Baldwin).
(Related: This is how we sell our Wandering Aimfully Memberships!)
Evergreen products are great in theory, but I caution you with this option. While the idea of a set-it-and-forget-it sales schedule is wonderful to think about, it 99% of the time requires ongoing attention and effort. If you want to have your product or service for sale all the time, that’s a perfectly fine option. Just know that you’ll most likely need to do quarterly promotions or mini-launches throughout the year to see a spike in sales. But hey, you get to control those spikes, so that’s a good thing!
Ahh, the anti-schedule! Create a sales cycle on your calendar that gives you something to stick to and look forward to. I tend to loosely plan out my product launches 3-6 months in advance. These can be put on the calendar and moved around as you see fit. But doing the initial planning will help you have some semblance of an idea of what’s on your sales plate (which is obviously made of very expensive and ancient materials).
No matter what sales schedule you decide to use, you can always change it. You can always mix things up and learn from your experiences. The most important part is that you sell and give people the opportunity to put money in your bank account for the thing you are creating.
No one, and I mean no one, just puts up a sales page and has money rain down upon them. We’ve all seen the Kickstarter campaigns that bring in millions of dollars, and it looks like they hit it big overnight. But those uber-successful campaigns? They had months and months of pre-marketing, I promise you. Many of them are brands that have built small niche audiences and have found a product that works and sells well in small doses first.
When I launched BuyMyFuture in 2015, it was an open-and-closed launch. It may have looked to people seeing it during the 2-week sales window like it just appeared out of nowhere, all ready to go, but that’s not the case at all. From the initial idea to official launch, I spent 4 months getting ready for a 14-day sale.
Here are the exact pre-marketing steps I took to generate $178,000 in sales in two weeks:
I share this as an example to show you how many things you can do. There are so many more things I could have done, but this was plenty. And you, certainly, do not need to do this amount of pre-marketing work if you don’t want to. Just remember one thing:
*49 phone (or Skype) calls is A LOT. You don’t need to do this many. I’d recommend 5-10 calls, but be sure these folks are your ideal customers for what you are selling. (That means don’t have a call with your mom unless you’re selling a product targeted to people like your mom). Tell them about your product/service, and listen to how they repeat your project back to you and the words they use. Also, listen for what features or benefits stand out to them, and make sure to highlight those when you’re selling.
I believe email marketing is the absolute best way to sell something right now. Don’t waste time on social media. Don’t waste time or money paying for ads*. Build a quality email list of highly interested people, and sell directly to those people.
Did it solve that problem for you? Share that story! People love to hear stories, especially ones they can relate to.
Example: I co-created an online course about starting a podcast and making money from it. The course was everything I’ve learned about podcasting and making real money with a podcast. In the course, my co-creators and I share our personal podcast experiences, lessons learned, biggest mistakes, and actionable tips and tricks.
It better. If it doesn’t, it’s not going to stand out, no matter how many emails you send to people about it. Find the unique angle. Hint: It’s usually something your potential customers will point out to you (which you’ll find out on your customer calls). If you don’t have any customers to call, find some! You want to learn how to talk about your product during the pre-marketing stage before you start putting a ton of effort into selling.
Open-and-closed cart? A timed discount? Annual launch? A limited number of sales? These are things that create urgency and scarcity. These will motivate people to make a purchase. Do not, however, say something is “only available for the next week” if people will still be able to find it a week or two later. That’s bad business, and it will hurt your reputation.
*This schedule assumes that you’ve done lots of pre-marketing. Pre-marketing could include many mentions of your launch date leading up. You could mention it as early as 6 months ahead of time if you like, but do at least 1 month of lead-up mentions in your emails.
One thing that can create a lot of complications and consternation is trying to automate things too early. I’ve seen it time and time again. People shoot themselves in their email marketing feet because they try to overdo all the email automation stuff. Sure, if you know how to do this stuff, continue reading this section, but if you’re new to Email Marketing Land, it might be best to skip this.
I’m going to mention tactics for ConvertKit, since it’s an email marketing platform I used for years (I’m sure you can use similar tactics, like segmenting and tagging, with other email providers).
Setup a new Tag called “ProductName – Clicked.” Then, create a new Automation for a Link Trigger. The link should go to the sales page for your product/service, and when clicked, it should add the new tag you just created (ProductName – Clicked).
Setup a new Tag called “ProductName – Purchased.” If you’re using Gumroad to sell things, ConvertKit makes it super easy to create an automation that adds a tag. You can also use Zapier.com to create an automation to add the purchase tag if you sell using Stripe (and other payment processors). You can also manually add the tag as people purchase.
If this is blowing your mind, that’s okay. You don’t need to do any automation stuff when selling. It’s nice to have.
Any time you link to your sales page in your email broadcasts, make sure to use the Link Trigger you created. This will continue to collect clicks (potential buyers!) and add them to the “ProductName – Clicked” tag you created (more in the next step).
When you set up your sales emails, go ahead and send them to your full email list, but when you’re selecting your subscribers for a new broadcast, add the filter group “Matching none” and select your “ProductName – Purchased” tag. This will exclude people who’ve already purchased from getting the rest of your sales emails.
Here’s an example of these tags in action:
I like to send this final sales email broadcast only to the folks who’ve clicked the sales page link in previous emails. You’d be shocked at how many people just need a final nudge, and the ones who will become paying customers are the ones who’ve already shown interest (clicked!). In the final broadcast, select to send only to subscribers with the tag “ProductName – Clicked.” You can even mention that you know they clicked (which is Internet wizardry) and that this is their very final chance to buy the thing they showed some interest in.
You survived the advanced email stuff! Congrats! Let’s keep going…
You’d be shocked at how a simple sentence in an email or on social media can help to get your existing audience to assist you in sharing the thing you are selling. An important note to consider: Is what you are selling interesting? Because, be honest with yourself, you don’t share things that aren’t interesting, either.
Simple phrases like, “Want to help spread the word? Share this!” or “Would love if you guys could lend a hand and forward this email to a friend or share this with your friends on the social meeds!”
Don’t get crazy and write “pls RT” after every tweet. Don’t hit up all your friends on FB Chat and ask them to share your status. Just make a simple ask and let people help you out if they want to help you. Word of mouth is powerful, but organic word of mouth is the MOST powerful.
Sure, making the simple ask is okay, but it’s also okay to give people the benefit of the doubt that they’ll help you if they find what you’re selling interesting enough.
Truthfully, I don’t do a lot of affiliate marketing with my audience, so I wouldn’t be the best source of information for this. If people are asking you if they can help you sell your products/services as affiliates, then you may want to investigate this further.
Selling, I hope you can see now, is just the next step to take after you create something. It’s not a crazy scary mountain or a boogeyman in the closet.
Information is power against any fear.
But… you might be overwhelmed? That’s okay! And normal. The point here is to show you a bunch of options. To lay a handful of ideas (that work) out on the table for you. Information is power against any fear and the best part is that you don’t even have to do all this stuff.
The last thing I want to mention is being okay with a smaller launch when you’re new to selling.
Learn from your experience. Don’t get too distracted by all the options and all the money-making potential. The money will come. Focus on getting your first sale. Then your second. Then your third. Treat your customers amazingly well, and go above and beyond for them. The rest of your sales will come with time.
If you’ve been selling things for awhile, maybe you now have some fresh ideas? Maybe you’ve gained a few nuggets of information that create more income for you? Great! Stop reading (conveniently, we’re at the end), and start working on implementing those ideas.
Maybe you want to get sponsorships and have tried before without success. Maybe you want to get companies to support your blog, business, or idea, but don’t have experience landing deals. Getting a business to sponsor your next thing doesn’t have to be sleazy and is much easier than you think.
Since 2008 I’ve landed over 2,000 sponsorships with various projects. I’ve worn sponsored t-shirts, I’ve had a sponsored car, my trip to SXSW in 2011 was completely paid for by a sponsor, I even turned a 90-day fitness challenge into an opportunity to get paid to get in shape (yeah, that was awesome).
It took me years of trial and error to develop a system that works. I certainly made tons of mistakes, but I’ve also had some great successes. In 2013 I launched a sponsored book project that generated $75,000 in revenue (before the book was written!)
Getting paying sponsorships isn’t luck. It’s putting in effort and using techniques that actually work.
Below you’ll find the seven step process I’ve used time and time again to land sponsors for my various projects. This isn’t rocket science and you don’t need any experience. You just need to do the work and believe in what you are selling.
Your value proposition is a paragraph or two that clearly explains the thing you are trying to get sponsors for. For years I struggled to write a concise value proposition. What I found was that most businesses I reached out to asked a similar set of questions:
Answering these questions will help you create your value proposition. Your answers should range from 1-2 sentences and should focus on the specific benefits you will provide. Take a sentence from each answer and massage it into one 4-6 sentence paragraph. Here’s an example value proposition I made for a conference I was hosting:
The Amazingly Awesome Conference will focus on teaching people how to do marketing more efficiently and with better results. We’re inviting people who are passionate about marketing to join us in Jacksonville, FL on May 6, 2015. The conference will cap at 300 attendees and tickets go on sale to the pre-sale list on our website first (January 1, 2015). Our conference organizers have worked with companies like Starbucks, Nissan, Jockey, and are flying in some of the best speakers in the world including Name Drop, Name Drop, and Name Drop. We’re excited to make a dent in the marketing world and have our attendees learn new information and about new products.
This value proposition should be used in upcoming steps I’ll be sharing, on your website, to your email list, on social media, etc. Use the heck out of this thing!
Your existing network is one of your most powerful assets. Whether you have 100 contacts in your address book or 10,000, these people are your starting point. Here are four things to realize about this list of people:
Build a Google Spreadsheet (or Excel) with your contacts in it. I recommend column headings of Name, Email, Business, How You Know Them, Contact Date, Response?, Introductions?, and Notes. There are probably CRMs out there that you can pay for, but I like the simplicity of Google. We’ll talk about what to do with this list in Step 3…
There are some very important things to remember when you’re sending an email to your contacts about the thing you want to get sponsorships for.
Here’s an example email I would write to someone on my contact list for the conference I mentioned in Step 1:
Hey FRIEND NAME,
Hope all is well with you! Thanks again for dinner last week it was a blast. [IMPORTANT: You want to show these aren’t mass emails]
If you haven’t heard, I’m running an awesome conference on May 15, 2015 in Jacksonville called The Amazingly Awesome Conference. I’m super excited about it and I’d love to ask for your help on two things. It’ll only take you a minute or two, I promise!
1. We’re looking to secure sponsors for the conference. I was wondering if you can think of businesses owners that might be a good fit for me to pass along some information? If you do, I’d love a really quick email introduction! I’ll do the hard work from there ☺
2. Aside from those introductions, do you have any thoughts for me or feedback? Have you been to any conferences and remembered things you loved or hated? If you want, feel free to check out our website at amazinglyawesomeconference.com.
Really really appreciate your time and help with a couple introductions!
Monitor the responses you receive from these personalized emails. I guarantee you’ll be surprised at how many paying sponsors show up if you’re offering something they think might be valuable to them. Be diligent in updating your Google Spreadsheet!
Pitch emails are different from emails to your contact list. Unlike your contact list, the people you send pitch emails to probably won’t have any context with you (or established trust). Because of that, keep a couple things in mind:
You can use a similar version of the email template in Step 3, but you’ll want to make sure you put your value proposition in the email. You can read more about sending pitch emails in this article.
Follow up emails are EXTREMELY important in closing deals.
Follow up emails work well because people are busy, especially people you’ve never emailed before. I, personally, tend not to respond to the first pitch emails I receive and wait for people who actually put in effort and follow up with me.
While following up can seem like a daunting task, you can actually streamline the process greatly by using FollowUp.cc. It’s a completely free service that let’s you put a time you want to follow up directly in the Bcc field of the first pitch email (ex: email@example.com would send you a follow up reminder 6 days after sending your first email).
If you’ve created a separate Google Spreadsheet for your email pitches (which you should), make sure to include a Follow Up column. Again, be diligent about updating this spreadsheet.
Want more info on follow up emails? Here’s a full article on it!
Let’s be honest. If you’re sending pitch emails, you will probably get some “Nos.” I’ve received plenty of them, but I don’t let them discourage me. Don’t get offended when someone says no and realize that people aren’t saying no because you’re a bad person, they’re saying no because:
As crazy as it may sound, I’ve turned multiple “No” emails into sales. This isn’t because I’m an amazing salesman, it’s because if I really wanted to land the deal, I’d try again a different way. Just sending a pitch email isn’t always the answer. Often times you need to get creative and think outside the box.
Read an additional article about not saying “no” for other people.
This one is simple. Don’t offer everything and deliver crap. You should plan to “wow” your sponsor with extra stuff they didn’t expect.
A quick example of this is the company Headsets.com:
For whatever thing you are trying to get sponsors for, make sure your pitch doesn’t sell a 2014 Mercedes Benz and deliver a 1982 Ford Taurus. You want sponsors to be happy enough that they come to you asking to give you more money.
90% of people are afraid to ask for things. Is that a real statistic? Nope. But I believe it to be a true statistic, if not higher than that.
We, as humans, are afraid to ask for things. We’re afraid to ask people to buy our products. We’re afraid to ask someone out on a date. We’re afraid to ask for more money at our jobs. We’re afraid to ask the tough questions in our relationships.
Rejection is this unbelievably strong thing that keeps us from getting so much in life. If you experience rejection one time, it is likely to derail you from ever asking for that thing again. Most of us have had the unpleasant experience of asking someone on a date and getting rejected. Unfortunately, that horrible empty feeling sticks with us for years to come (and for some people, the rest of their lives).
But why is rejection so strong? Why is it so hard to overcome the feeling that the tiny two-letter word “no” gives us?
100 people could tell you how freaking amazing you look today, but if one person says you look like crap, those 100 positive messages won’t matter.
On some level, we all just want to fit in. The reason we fixate on things like rejection and negativity is because they make us feel alienated from the rest of the world. Experiencing those things on any scale cuts us to our most basic human core.
Think about the last time you asked for something out of your comfort zone? Or even something in your comfort zone. You probably felt hesitation. You probably had 20 scenes play out in your mind, all disasters and worst-case scenarios. You might have even delayed your ask until you finally built up enough courage.
Over the years, I’ve had success in business for two reasons:
When people hear that I’ve made over $3,000,000, worked with over 2,000 companies, and sold products to over 15,000 customers (since 2009), I’m sure it comes off like a nice shiny success story. But what they don’t hear is that I sent more than 15,000 emails to make those all deals happen (75% of those emails were most likefollow-upsups).
Writing that many emails wasn’t easy and on many occasions, I was afraid to make “the ask.” One thing that always helped me overcome my own fear of asking was that I believed in myself and the thing I was asking for.
If you don’t believe in what you’re asking for, you’re never going to overcome your fear.
Everyone wants to make good money, but most people are afraid to put in the hard work to make it happen. There were many times when I got discouraged when people said “no” to me. There were many times when I wanted to give up and thought my ideas weren’t good when I got negative criticism. But I believed in what I was selling and wanted it more than the feeling of rejection could dissuade me.
The only caveat to simply asking for what you want is this: make sure you do it with creativity, confidence and effort.
When it comes to selling something online, your product or service most likely has competition. Someone else is already asking people to buy, so that alone should give you the validation and confidence to ask. But, you should also think about a unique or creative way you can package your ask so it stands out from the crowd.
When it comes to relationships, confidence is key. No one wants to talk to, let alone go on a date with, someone who has zero confidence. But just like asking for things, the more you work to build your confidence and the more practice you put in, the more results you’ll see. No one becomes confident overnight or just by reading a self-help book. You have to put in the work and not give up at the first sign of rejection.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens put it perfectly:
No one has ever put in an insane amount of effort for something and not gotten some value out of it.
The more you ask for things, in the right ways, the better you’ll get at it. And the better you get at asking, the amount of times you hear “yes” will increase.
You’re going to hear “no.” You’re going to have to deal with rejection. You’re going to encounter negativity. But if you truly want whatever you’re asking for, you won’t and shouldn’t give up at the first sign or thought of adversity.
Start repeating these words to yourself: You don’t get what you don’t ask for.