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Authority Rules for Making Non-Sleazy Sales

Do you find you give and give, but people do not seem to be buying?

Or maybe people do buy, but not in the numbers you would like?

I get that, and I hear it a lot. You might have heard me joke that for a while there I was stuck in a loop of being known as a “freebie guy”. Luckily it wasn’t so bad that I left to go herd goats or something, I have always had a little something up my sleeve that was my get out of jail card (will talk about that in a bit), but it was frustrating until I broke through that problem.

No Sales, No Business

The fact is, if you don’t get sales then you are not in business. And you don’t want “just enough”, you need enough strong leads that your business can thrive.

This is true if you are selling your services, offering an ebook or running live events.

We react differently to this notion. Some of us resort to cold-calling, others will pound their lists with offers.

While we don’t want to be that type of person, we do have to first understand what is going to make our audience take notice and take action, and also we need to confidently put offers out there knowing that they are good offers in service of our market.

Sometimes that is easier said than done. Sometimes we think we are doing that, but still our offers land with a dull “thud”.

Authority Marketing

If you have been following me for a while you will know I am big on “Authority”. I don’t mean the type of authority that comes with a big stick, a gun or a badge.

What we are talking about, of course, is the “trusted advisor” type authority, the go-to person in your niche, the person we grow to know, like and respect.

That’s the first advantage that I had over some other players in my markets, even though I started out in the programming and IT geek worlds. We can’t really call computing topics niches because, well, who doesn’t use a computer nowadays, right? But the bits that I got known in, man they were niche. Ultra-nerdy niches of niches. There were not millions of people battling to push hundred dollar bills at you. We couldn’t promise fame and fortune.

But still I made a decent living and I did it without any kind of hard-sell (in fact to begin with the idea that I could sell something hadn’t occurred to me, I had customers coming to me before I had an offer).

It was authority that did it. My audience found me and trusted that I had a solution.

Given the Choice, this is Who We Choose

The next element that made all the difference, and continues to, is the reason why most of us are happy to buy from certain people, and would rather have root canal than buy from others.

Yup, good old “Know, Like and Trust”.

I don’t need to cite any scientific studies here, just observe your own behaviour. In fact, walk up to a used car lot and start checking out the merchandise. Visit enough dealerships and you will soon understand what people do to make the sales process “icky”.

On the other hand, we all know what it is like to “have a guy who does that”, or “know a lady who can help you out”. That’s who we want to be known as. The person other people will happily refer business to over and over.

If I had to rely on my sales skills then I would never still be in business for myself. I am not an entrepreneur by birth, I didn’t sell baseball cards in the playground, and I am not the world’s most confident pitch man. Most of my “sale” happens before the offer is made. People make up their own minds about the solution and my ability to offer it. When I talk about an offer it can therefore be presented as “here’s what I have that would help you, take it or leave it”.

We Don’t Like Being Sold to, But We Like to Buy

If we are looking for a solution, if we believe it will work, we trust the person offering it, and we can see that there is more value to us than the price, then we happily buy.

Heck, looking around my desk, I have so many cool gadgets and doodads, we don’t always need all of the above criteria to happily buy, do we? I am not sure I have any reason for my army of stormtrooper legos other than I think they are very cool ๐Ÿ™‚

We love to buy stuff, we just don’t like being sold to. Most of us don’t like to make offers in that way either.

That’s why sharing content works. Before we talk about offers we give people ideas, tips, and we share the benefit of our experience. We attract an audience who need what we can offer.

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  1. Chris,

    I read the free Authority Rules ebook CopyBlogger is promoting. There’s a lot of great supplemental content in there.

    My only issue with it is there’s too much. Go figure.

    I know making a purchase forces you to appreciate the content more and thereby encourages you to take action. But my question is: How do you determine what free content is worth your time when there’s so much of it that’s good?

    Is it a gut feeling approach or do you have systems for processing new information that’s valuable?

    Look forward to your response.


    • The approach I use with any content is to work out what is going to move me forward on an issue I am facing – otherwise we end up grazing on information and not taking action on it. If you are feeling overwhelmed, work out the actions you need to take and the information that will help you do that then you have less of an issue.

      For example Authority Rules is about getting more attention to what you have to offer and generating more sales leads, another course might be around web design, then there might be something specifically on scrapbooking – you might be “interested” in all of them, but which do you have a pressing need for?

  2. Do you think that sometimes it is just a case of time Chris? I was reading something about the ‘law of process’ its a spiritual law that says for everything there is a process from beginning to end – like a seed that turns into a shoot/small plant before growing a blossoming flower. We are in such a rush to plant a seed and become a flower missing out the middle part that we don’t give it long enough.

    Reading that yesterday and your post today made me think if sometimes being an authority is as much about time and patience as it is about anything else we might do. Of course providing great content along the way is a must if that follow is going to bloom. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Time is definitely in the mix, as is patience, but there are also definite steps that get people to that tipping point sooner rather than wait for an opportunity or take things too cautiously. For example, in my early career one of the things I definitely did was lose sales by not giving people an opportunity to take up a service or not – I was so afraid of rejection I simply didn’t tell people about things I could do for them and hoped they would come to the realisation on their own ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Yes, there definitely are steps – didn’t mean to imply otherwise, I just wonder how much time. When I came online I was sold “get the process right and it happens” but even with a system without the authority a little happened but not much. In fact most marketers wouldn’t even mention that it might take time for an online business to succeed. As long as you had a system you will succeed was what the experts promoted.

        Now we have learnt that mindset, time and authority is a factor – and I feel its more like 70 – 30, 70% time and 30% system. Get your online system in place and spend 70% of the time on developing a success mindset and building authority because its going to take a lot of time to build.

        Or maybe there isn’t a number you can put to this and it happens when it happens. For some it takes a year, for others five – deal with it!

        • It does vary from niche to niche and person to person BUT if you have a system, and follow it, then it is easier, plus if you have all the parts of that system in place you can accelerate your progress by increasing your visibility to the right people.

          Most of the time when I see people struggling, even though they seem to be doing all the right things, is they are not getting out there enough in front of their prospects, their potential partners, and/or they don’t have a clear enough and unique enough message or hook.

          Comes back to “WIIFM” on behalf of them rather than us ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Am I to understand that you’re leaving it as a given that nobody wants to be the type of person that resorts to cold calling? That that is the lead generation technique of last resort?

    Or did I misunderstand?

    • Out of all the people I speak to it is rare to find someone who is comfortable cold-calling. In fact I would put it at one of the major sales fears there is. That isn’t to say there are not people out there who can happily cold-call all day long, just in terms of sheer terror, cold-calling ranks up there.

      I am actually against cold-calling as a tactic. Emphasis on “cold”, mind. Telephone-sales or in-person sales with a warm lead are great, but picking up the phone and calling a random person or company off a list without any form of introduction in my opinion is bad for the recipient and bad for the person doing it.

      It usually doesn’t take much more preparation for a cold lead to be warmed up, then the situation is very different.

      But again, that is my view. I know others who love the thrill of the hunt and relish pounding the telephones. We all have our views and preferences.

  4. So here’s what I’ll do: someone complains about their demo video on Twitter. I have some keywords followed. “Know anyone motion graphics,” for example. I get pinged, I see that they are interested. I facebook-stalk them, find a numba, call and make a deal.

    I don’t fear or relish it, but it’s a technique that is more efficent than muttering to everybody and nobody.

    • See the only difference I would make is instead of stalking them and find a number, I would introduce myself with a response to their question/rant/whine/complaint then ask if they would like to hop on phone/chat/skype to talk about it.

      Sherlock up their number? Cold. Introduce yourself with an answer to their question then give them the option of taking it to phone? Warm.

      See how it works? ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am not saying mine is the right answer in all occasions, just that is how I roll ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Sherlocking a number and taking the initiative is needed. People with great applications and shitty videos need to fix the video. It’s a service to humanity.