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Is This Why Your Sales Suck?


Are you wondering how you can get more people to visit your site or buy what you are selling?

People often ask me why some people can get a lot of traffic or business while others struggle along with what seems like the scraps from the table. Why can “over night success” stories break through at the same time you might have to spend years “paying dues”?

I have been seeing a lot of people fall into a common trap. That trap is called “Entitlement”.

Starting out bloggers all the way up to the big banks and the RIAA.

I’m not saying everyone is an extreme case, but does this seem a familiar line of thinking in the people around you?

  • I deserve attention.
  • I/we/this is obviously awesome.
  • In a fair world I would be getting rewards.
  • Therefore it is their fault I am not a success.
  • I am being held down.

You don’t need me to tell you that nobody is holding you down and your venture does not deserve a bailout πŸ™‚

There is an important point here, reflect on this for a moment as it could seriously boost your progress.

We must never take our customers for granted. This might be an exaggeration but the danger is there for all of us as are the potential rewards from getting this right.

Consumers Are People

Essentially the common complaint is that prospects should read, subscribe or buy because it is “obvious” that is what they should do.

This line of thinking where your prospects are “consumers”, that they should just passively accept whatever you put out without any thought, is detrimental to both you and your victims/customers.

It comes down to one simple fact.

You have no right to their business.


Customers do not exist just so you can put food on the table. They are not an ATM to be tapped whenever funds drop low.

Customers are people. They have their own agenda.

You need to work hard to:

  1. Find out their needs.
  2. Match your resources to the right solution.
  3. Demonstrate how what you offer will benefit them.

Instead many people are saying:

  • I am so much smarter, why are they going to that dumb guy?
  • My service rocks, only the market place is too dumb to see that.
  • That blogger can’t write for toffee, why does she get all that attention!?
  • Our product is far superior but customers would rather spend money with that guy with the sales page. (spit).
  • It’s obvious our solution is what people should be buying but they would all rather buy beer and iPods!!

It’s Not Them It’s You

People are not going to beat a path to your door just because you are awesome.

I don’t care if you have created the ultimate mouse trap. Just being better does not mean squat unless you reach people with a convincing message.

We all need to get past the idea that our customers give any thought to us at all, they do not care unless we tell them why they should be interested, show some proof, and demonstrate relevance to their lives.

Occasionally we will visit a blog or buy from a business just to help them out but normally we are looking for what we want or need, and our customers are no different.

Bottom Line

If your entire rationale why someone should visit your blog or buy from you is that you need to pay the rent then you might need to reconsider your strategy.

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  1. Good advice, Chris.

  2. Yes and no Chris.

    I agree we are not entitled to attention.

    I don’t necessarily agree that those who get it deserve it.

    These are quite different things.

  3. I agree – paying the rent is not enough motivation – but I do think sometimes people who are able to create the biggest hype wins the business whether they deserve it or not.

    I always believe I serve people’s needs after research and asking them what they want but I lose out to the hyped up “buy this and make a million in 2 weeks with no keyboard while sitting on the beach” promoter!

    I refuse to go there but sometimes its so tempting πŸ™‚

    • I completely understand. A couple of times I have lost out to similar, but really they were never ours to lose because we will not be the person that it would require to get that sale. Some come around and realize their mistake, others go on to the next get-rich-quick, we carry on serving the people who we do attract. We can’t change people, just look after the people willing to listen to us πŸ™‚

  4. Chris this is soooo true – as customers we are fed up being ‘sold to’.

    Hmm, I also notice a blog-animal-theme thang going on here – am doing it on my blog as well – or maybe it’s just us brits πŸ˜‰

    (you’ve lived here long enough to count as a brit!)


  5. Hi Chris,

    I loved this post. It is so true. You can be the greatest thing since slice bread (or think you are) but if you are not connecting with enough people and offering them something that they value…remember the customer’s perception is their reality, then you’ll spin your wheels.

    Been there done that.

    If people are making big bucks…then there a calue to the service or products they are offering. Yes you do need the steak behind the sizzle, but first you have to sizzle..sssss.

    Expect Success,

    Mark from Toronto

    • That’s the sad thing. We might think “But but this is really steak, why do they keep going to that dirty burger stand??” and the customers are saying “Smell that? Burgers! I’m hungry!”

  6. Apparently animals are really big in advertising at the moment,I read it in the Evening Standard yesterday!
    When I think about my most recent clients they have all been people who I’ve met just at the moment they were in need. They haven’t been looking for me in particular so I guess I’ve been lucky. To me that says don’t sit back at home feeling cross that people aren’t beating a path to your door, but keep going out, meeting and talking to people, keep commenting on blogs and keep reaching out to people who seem to need something. It might just be you or indeed me.

    • Exactly – and the people who find what they are looking for in you will be your best clients because anyone who needs “persuading” too much will always be that step closer to walking …

  7. Ha ha! An ass-kicking theme is somehow that much more palatable when coming from a reliable source.

    A sense of entitlement is, in my two-cent opinion, one of the most unattractive and vexing personality traits.

    I’m also a bit surprised judging from a couple commments that others don’t get that talent isn’t just about putting out a great product…

  8. Hey Chris:
    How true your post is. I have a friend that JOINED a downline business. She is asking EVERYONE and anyone to join under her. The get rich quick deals really make my HAIR HURT!
    Thank you for REAL advice.

    • These schemes tend to reveal the entitlement mindset even more because they lead people to guilt friends and family into joining or buying the products out of social connection rather than value to the customer. If I have to do something *just* because you are my friend/relative then it doesn’t say much for the product does it?

  9. Well said!

    “We all need to get past the idea that our customers give any thought to us at all, they do not care unless we tell them why they should be interested, show some proof, and demonstrate relevance to their lives.”
    – After all, how is a potential customer going to know anything about you if you don’t give him a reason to listen to you?

    To choose not to spend the time to describe the benefits to the customer (not the features of your product, mind you) is a lazy approach. Instead of complaining about how good your product is and why a competitor may be getting more traffic or sales, you should spend that time tweaking your sales message.

    Give customers a reason to buy from you. Tell them WHY they should buy from you. Give them answers to their problems. Genuinely help them better their lives. If you do this, potential customers will start to notice you. The tables will turn, and you’ll be the successful competitor everyone admires.

    Insightful read!


    • It seems though most people don’t admire the successful competitors.

      When I see someone doing well I think “good for them, what can I learn?”. But I keep hearing “They don’t deserve that award/money/visibility/recognition – *I* do”.

      Why people put so much energy into grumbling about a situation rather than changing it I don’t know, but diverting their attention that way serves one purpose – it does make it easier for the rest of us to get ahead πŸ˜‰

      • Indeed! That energy is best spent learning from your mistakes and making your products/services better than what your competition is offering. It’s a challenge that should be tackled head first. Don’t just watch your competition from the sidelines and ask, “Why can’t I be like them?” Take actions and be BETTER than them. Once you do, your business will prosper.

  10. This is a hugely great point Chris. For a business to succeed they have to keep the customer first and foremost in their mind. What we want as business owners often runs contrary to what a customer wants. For instance, we want to make money, they want to save money. Having said that we can come to a mutual agreement (my product costs a little and saves you a lot).

    It’s been said before – people don’t care about your business, they care about what your business can do for them.

    Always a great point to remember.

    • Exactly.

      Someone said the other day that we should listen to telemarketers because they are only doing their job and they will get into trouble if you don’t let them finish their pitch.

      I said I disagree.

      A telemarketer is going to be measured by how many sales they make, not how many nice people let them get all the way through the script and still have no intention of buying.

      This is why cold-calls are so difficult, the onus is on the sales person to get the victim/prospect to take interest. If it is not for me then no amount of selling is going to make a difference and it is not my job to listen, especially when I didn’t ask for the call.

  11. A good reminder for me Chris. In my desire to not be one of those coach types that promise easy answers for the low low price of… I can sometimes forget to do the parts of selling that helps people see what I am offering. I have also been guilty of entitlement having had my biggest success early in life and then, briefly, believing my own bio! It’s so important to be grounded, real and true to your own values. Takes a lot of discernment! Another part of being a creative linchpin tribe leader self-employed chic pea, me thinks. Thanks for your wise brain this morning.

    • When we are “accidentally” successful it can be difficult when it suddenly starts becoming an effort when things were previously so effortless. I think that is when we really learn what works and what was luck πŸ™‚

      Sometimes clients magically find us, the rest of the time we have to put in the hours!

  12. I’m not a social conservative. I’m in self development to make a difference to people’s lives (for the better).

    So to say that ‘this is just the system we are in’ begs the question.

  13. Dang, and I was counting on that bailout:)

    Back to paying my dues. Chris Brogan just made a comment yesterday that it took him 8 years to get 100 subscribers. (hope I got the # of years right, but it was a lonnnnng time)

    • Yeah, it always makes me laugh when people call Chris B and others “overnight success stories” because I know how long and hard they had to work.

      Chris was learning social media on the old text based bulletin boards back when the majority of his detractors thought digital watches were novel πŸ˜‰

  14. Chris, thank you for the reminder to stay hungry and humble. A welcomed and timely rebuke.

  15. Still pretty new in this space, but it’s no different than offline. It’s all about your customer and never about your shinny new widget great that it may be.

    I learn from my own successes and failures as well as those I see killing it. Not privy to their sales, they’re still killin it to me. These folks are highly engaging with potential customers.

  16. haha, “Chris was learning social media on the old text based bulletin boards back when the majority of his detractors thought digital watches were novel”…
    Easy of Chris Brogan, he isn’t that old…
    But really for sure, he has earned his stripes. Your posts tell it like it is, nothign is for granted. Having customers is a privilege
    and is not to be misused.

  17. I would prefer not to be on the radar myself but need the business. I believe you must not only follow the right marketing plan, but it never hurts to ask. Ask and you shall receive right? As simple as it sounds, some people never ask and that is all it takes. If you never ask, and start asking once a day, your chances just went up a great deal. Market correctly and then ask with a soft close.

  18. Hi Chris,

    at the risk of coming across all machiavellian… flipping it around can work.

    For instance, the L’Oreal line ‘because you’re worth it’ appeals to the customer’s sense of entitlement.

    Yes, no, maybe?

  19. You should be confident in what you do, I think my site rocks, but that confidence should also be tempered in reality. You’re right in regards to attention. It’s a commodity. If you aren’t creating anything anyone cares about why should you experience results? Create stuff people care about and get busy letting the world know about it. Love the pic btw had a good laugh πŸ™‚

  20. This is great. This post quickly reminded me of a book I often look through. It’s by a guy named Zukav and he devotes a chapter to entitlement. It gets pretty deep, but he says: “feeling entitled is like flying above the clouds and not wanting to come down. You believe that the sky belongs to you alone. When other fliers appear, you do not want to see them. … When the sense of entitlement is very strong, no meaningful interaction with others is possible.”
    Certainly, customers can pick up on that energy!

  21. Your opinion depends of a lot of things. Some people just get a brilliant ideea and make money with it, others just want their own money maker ideea and struggle to find one (succesful or not).

    It’s true that a lot of businesses are studing marketing techniques but also, it’s true that a lot of people just have got lots of money with a simple, stupid ideea (just see coca-cola, etc)

  22. “Build it and they will come”.

    Not really. Of the millions and millions of products/services in the world, there’s only 1 iPhone, that flies off the shelf at record speeds. For the rest of us, you said it; we have to demonstrate value.

    As a business the best widget in the world is worthless if no one can see the value.

  23. Chris, seems it took me a little while to find your post but glad I did.

    Great perspective, thank you.

    Currently I coach people wishing to start a new online business. The first question they always ask is “What I am going to sell”.

    My response is equally always the same …” I have no idea, what is it that your prospects want to buy”.

    So I try to help them understand that my opinion of commerce is facilitating a prospects buying process not selling something to them.

    And to me this includes, among other things, understanding your prospects wants (yes wants) and providing value in the fulfillment of those wants.

    It most certainly is not about “us”, it is more about them.