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Sales

The secret to a successful business is incredibly simple.
Provide more value for a specific pain / desire, than everyone else.

Sales is about communicating this value to people.
Sales is not about your product. It's about your customers' pain.

So if it’s that simple, then what’s the problem?
The problem is that most entrepreneurs don’t understand their audience, they don't understand their pain, so they cannot provide the most value.

We need to do three things:
-   understand who your audience is
-   understand their pain or desire
-   demonstrate your understanding

Most of us have a natural aversion to doing sales, because we don't like forcing things on people. All of us have had bad experiences about loud-mouth sales people trying to pressure us into buying something. We don't want to be that person. But you don't have to do it that way. Normally, sales is just opening people's eyes to something they will genuinely benefit from. Nothing shameful about that.

If you think about it, right now, I'm trying to sell you on sales not being this horrible thing. I'm trying to open your eyes to something that you will benefit from. I am trying to sell you something you previously might have had an aversion to. Are you having a bad time? Would I have done better if I kept my mouth shut? Hopefully not, and you are beginning to realise, that if you have a great product, doing sales is just helping people for the mutual benefit of both of you.

Before we try to understand our audience however, we need to understand ourselves.


Understand yourself

The business you create needs to fit with your personal goals. Otherwise, you won’t like your life very much. You'll either abandon your business or live to see it make you work for it, rather than the other way around. It won’t be much different, than working at a 9-5 job.

Answer these questions and Write. The. Answers. Down. That has a completely different impact, than simply thinking about them (which is none).

1.  What’s your revenue goal?
2.  Why do you do it? To work on stuff you like? Freedom to travel? Flexibility to work when you want? To have a bit more cash? To have a lot more cash?
3.   What kind of business fits in with your lifestyle goals?

Not what, but why

Let's get into understanding our audience. There's a talk by Simon Sinek, entitled How great leaders inspire action (bit of a misleading title). It's a fascinating and insightful talk on our motivations. I highly recommend watching it.

Developing your product in line with your inner values and communicating those values is what's going to make us buy it. Show us what you stand for and make your product a proof of that.

Understand who your audience is

It's a specific pain / desire your product needs to target. This will be counter-intuitive, but everyone is not your audience. Everyone doesn’t have the same pain. You cannot target everyone. Rest assured, even something as ubiquitous as the iPhone, has a well-defined target audience that Apple carefully planned for.

Answer these question and write down the answers:
-   whose pain are you solving / desire fulfilling?
-   who are you trying to solve the pain for / fulfill a desire for?
-   what do they have in common?
-   where do they hang out?
-   what unique pain or attributes do they have?

Another way to identify your audience is to think about their goals, their 'jobs to be done'. Bar owners need to 'hire bartenders'. Writers need to 'find a publisher'.

Understand the pain or desire

If you are building a product that's born out of your own pain and experience, you have a great advantage here. Re-live the pain you are trying to solve and observe your thoughts and feelings about it. Write them down.

If not, put yourself in your customers' shoes. Empathy is the name of the game. Talk to your prospective customers and pay attention to the phrases and words they use in relation to their feelings about the pain. Write them down.

People don't buy things to solve problems. They buy stuff to alleviate a fear or fulfill a desire. I'm not buying a bird feeder, because not having a bird feeder is a problem in my life, but because of my desire to hear song birds on my balcony. Hence, I'll buy one that I can put on my balcony.

Only the company that understands the goal behind my 'problem' has the foresight to create bird feeders that can be placed on balconies, not only hanged from trees. It will have a poop tray as well. Also, they will give me tips on how to place it so the cat cannot reach it. I will be so content I will never look at other bird feeder manufacturers' products again.

Demonstrate you understand

Now that our product is fine-tuned to provide the most value and solve the underlying pain or desire, we need to show our audience that we actually understand what they are after. Otherwise, we did all the work for half of the reward.

The company that understands the desire behind my 'problem' will know what to say to me. Given two ads, one being:
BirdMagnet lets you enjoy the playful singing of song birds from your armchair
the other being:
FeedEx open-back bird feeder for outside use
I will click the first one.

Remember, we are not solving a problem, but a feeling. So we need to target the feeling.'

Another effective way is to use the same words your customers are thinking. A company that helps people with sales could say:
Sign up, if you struggle with thoughts like:
”... I’m fed up of not running a profitable business”
”… I don’t know how to find my first customers”
”… I keep building products nobody wants to buy”

1 sentence, 1 paragraph, 1 page

In his book, Perennial Seller, Ryan Holiday mentions a terrific excersise to get yourself be more comfortable talking about your product. It will solidify the swirling cloud of concepts you have in your mind.

Write down what your product is in 1 sentence, then in 1 paragraph and in 1 page. The point is to be able to talk about it in as short or as long a form as you need to. This is again one of those exercises that don't look very helpful until you do it.

I haven't found Perennial Seller to be a very good book. However, his other books, The Obstackle Is The Way and Ego Is the Enemy are fantastic.

Keep your focus

This is another incentive to first figure out who your audience is.
1. There are a lot of people in the world.
2. 99.99% of them don’t care.
3. If you use your time on that 99.99%, you won’t have time to reach out to those that do.
4. You’ll also end up alienating or annoying those who do care by watering down your product or communication for mass appeal.

This applies to your whole marketing effort and outreach. You might think that a million people want your game, but who are the 1,000 most likely people to actually back it during the campaign? Focus on them.

Follow up

This is about cold email outreach. Just because someone doesn't respond, it doesn't mean they are not interested in talking to you. It's entirely possible that they didn't have the time and forgot about your email, particularly if they receive a lot of them. It might have gotten lost in a busy inbox.

If you didn't get a response, follow up. If you do it in a tasteful manner, you will not be considered a spammer. It's human nature to try to reach out.

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