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We’ve all had the experience of a pushy salesman.
Perhaps it was while you were buying a car. Perhaps some streetside marketer hawking some crap at you while you walked by. Or that door-to-door salesman who just wouldn’t go away.
And yes, you’ve likely experienced it many times online. It happens all the time. Some marketers barrage their email list with offers practically every single time. It’s just a firehose of bonuses, deadlines and more. And once one is done, they begin pushing the next one.
It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You end up sort of resenting the person doing the selling. And you make that decision.
I’ll never be that guy.
Good for you! Except… too often, I see people making the mistake of then never wanting to sell anything.
Many times when I am working with blog owners on their monetization, one of the issues that comes up is that they are approaching it in a standoffish manner. They are afraid of coming off as pushy. And it leads to very weak offers and lower sales.
So, how do we bridge this gap?
How do you sell without selling? How do you make money without coming off as a pushy salesman?
What Makes An Offer Pushy, Anyway?
Let’s make one thing crystal clear…
Selling is not, by nature, pushy. When you equate all selling and all marketing to that douchey salesman experience, you are mistakenly making a huge generality.
In life, we are all salesman. Even if you don’t overtly sell a product or a service, you do it in your own life. You have to sell yourself to your significant other. You have to sell yourself to a potential employer. Basically, if you are human and live in a society, you will need to use some sales & marketing in your life.
But, if you look back and think of those times where you felt a salesman was being pushy, what made it that way?
Why did you get the bad taste in your mouth?
It usually comes down to a couple basics:
- The offer was not right for you. In other words, you were not interested and you were not reaching for it.
- The person was not listening to you. Their only goal was the sale and everything you said was an impediment to be overcome so that the sale would take place.
That’s really the simplicity of it. The offer isn’t right and/or you were being unacknowledged.
The opposite of this is, of course, good marketing. It would mean:
- The offer is truly right for the person seeing it.
- The prospect is being listened to and the things they say treated with importance.
When a person feels they aren’t being listened to, they won’t like you. They won’t want to communicate. They certainly won’t want to buy anything.
The Secret To Non-Pushy Offers
The answer of not being “that guy” isn’t to be passive.
I’ve watched way too many people make offers in a highly passive way. They deliver so much value for free in advance, but for the wrong reasons. Usually because they’re putting off selling anything. Then, when they finally get around to making a sale, they lowball the price. It is almost like they’re apologizing for making an offer!
That doesn’t work.
When it is time to sell, you SELL. But…
- You’re truly selling an offer that is truly right for them and will actually help them.
- You are in full communication with them, listening to them, having empathy, and treating what they say with importance.
Your goal with making a sale shouldn’t be only about money. That’s when you start coming off as desperate. The goal is to deliver the outcome to your prospect that they themselves are actively seeking. Your product is the delivery mechanism to what they’ve TOLD you they want.
In other words, you work to sell your product or service to the RIGHT people. Not just anybody with a wallet.
The secret here is truly having an offer which is awesome for the person seeing it. It is the right fit.
When you begin pushing the sale without first qualifying whether it is the right fit for them, that’s when you get into “pushy” territory. That’s when you begin to resort to pushy sales tactics to try to increase your conversion rate.
If you feel the need to do that, then perhaps your time is better spent making your offer better. Make adjustments to your offer to make it even better so that you personally feel you’d be doing your prospect a disservice not to get it into their hands.
When you truly have the RIGHT offer for them, then you can do what Derek Halpern says…
“I don’t sell often, but when I do, I sell hard.”
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with selling hard if the product is truly right. Being “pushy” isn’t even a part of it at that point because it comes from a place of total honesty. As Pat Flynn says…
The moment dishonesty enters the selling equation is the moment you’re selling for the wrong reasons.
Passive Versus Active Offers
In order to make any money with your site whatsoever, you have to make offers. Those offers can be for your own products/services or for others (as an affiliate or advertiser).
Active offers are when you are doing the selling. You are offering a product or service which you are confident is right for the prospect and you are actively working to make the sale.
Passive offers are when you don’t sell. You simply present it at the right place and let people find their way there. There’s no followup if they decline. Whatever happens… happens.
There is a time and place for both, but I will say that you will only really make REAL money online if you include active offers in your game plan.
How To Present Passive Offers
Let’s go over some ways to present offers to people passively.
#1 – Give The How-To For Free
The most effective way to present passive offers is by presenting material to show people how to do something then presenting a product/tool as a way to speed it up.
You’re literally showing them how to do something for free. They’re actively looking for that information otherwise they wouldn’t be there. But, once you’ve shown them, you immediately follow up with a paid solution that will do it much faster and easier. There’s no hard-selling required. They very clearly see the benefits.
This can work for your own offers or for affiliate offers.
A good example of this was the initial days of LeadPages. Clay Collins would do these videos showing a landing page template – and give the whole template away for free. Of course, that template was comprised of HTML, CSS and images. Many people find that to be daunting and tedious. And, it is. 🙂 Clay didn’t even need to pitch LeadPages. It kind of sold itself.
This kind of approach works great with blog posts, videos, even webinars. It is all about content with a shortcut presented at the end.
#2 – The Behind The Scenes Look
Show your readers the full “behind the scenes” look at how you do things and link to the stuff you use. It’s that simple.
If those things have affiliate programs, then you link to the tools you use with your affiliate link. But, even if the tool you use doesn’t have an affiliate program, link to it anyway. This is about giving the full look at how you do things.
#3 – Resources Page
If you’re in any market where people are DOING something, then having a tools and resources page makes total sense.
You can see the Academy Resources page here. I list out every single tool I use in my own business. If a tool has an affiliate link, I use it. Even if it doesn’t, I list it anyway. The goal is to make the page useful, not to litter it up with affiliate links.
In a completely different market, I created a list of all the RV camping gear we use when we’re out in the RV on my little hobby RV blog.
People are interested in what you use. It is content – not selling.
#4 – The Free Course
This is yet another twist on the same idea of showing them how to do it for free then presenting the shortcuts. Offering a free online course is a great way to do this.
It could be a free workshop they opt-in for or perhaps an email series (many people do “Challenges”). The whole time, you’re presenting the “how” and then pointing out the “with what”.
How To Present Active Offers Without Pushy Sales Tactics
Most bloggers stick exclusively to passive offers as spelled out above. However, that’s a mistake. Active offers is what businesses are made of.
The entire practice of online marketing is about attracting and funneling attention. Those who control attention make the money. It is why celebrities make so much money despite many of them producing very little.
Active offers is about making an offer and actively directing their attention to it and seeking to close the deal.
Most people have a natural inertia to them. They don’t want to make decisions. No decision or no change is the “safe” option for most even if making the move is what’s in their best interest. So, you need to employ some strategies to gently walk them over to it and get them to make a decision.
Now, when you present offers, there is definitely a time and place for things like scarcity and urgency. There’s nothing wrong with countdown timers unless the urgency is false.
But, in addition to those types of things, there is also the matter of using effective marketing. When people rely on false urgency, it is usually proof that they actually suck at marketing.When people rely on false urgency, it is usually proof that they actually suck at marketing.Click To Tweet
So, let’s discuss some ways to present good offers.
#1 – Actually Have An Offer Which Is Good
SO MUCH of what goes into crafting an offer which sells is how you craft the offer to begin with. It starts with knowing – and I mean really knowing – your customer avatar and what they really need and want.
This goes beyond just getting some signs of interest in a product idea from people. You need to look beyond what they actually tell you. It involves having actual conversations and asking specific questions.
Once you have this information, you craft an offer specifically to match your audience. Some of the questions you need to ask yourself are:
- How can I design something to provide what they want in the simplest, most direct fashion?
- How can I remove any potential difficulties or confusions?
- How can I simply remove their pain and hand them what they want?
- How can I most closely give them their dream solution, within the target price range I have in mind?
- What can I include in the offer to bridge any gaps, keep them from having to make decisions?
This isn’t about outlining your product. This is about outlining your OFFER. Craft the offer first, then create the product to fulfill those promises.Craft the offer first, then create the product to fulfill those promises.Click To Tweet
Whenever you feel hesitant to sell make your offer or feel like you have to engage in pushy tactics to sell it, your first step is to step back and revisit the offer itself.
#2 – Be Personal
Up above, I talked about how one of the things that make an offer “pushy” is not really listening to them and treating them like a person.
Ever had a salesman knock on your door when you’re in the middle of something? If you tell them it isn’t a good time, they may sorta ignore you and tell you about their thing anyway. That’s what NOT to do!
So, you want to be a real person and react like a real person.
Be yourself. Have nice photos of yourself on your page. Have an inviting contact page that is actually human. Have a sense of humor. Let your readers into your life a bit and don’t be “all business all the time”.
Also, have actual conversations with people. Treat your prospects like people. Reply to every email. Invite people into conversations using Live Chat or Facebook Messenger.
You’re not hitting them upside the head with a sales message repeatedly, but instead you’re taking them into private and having a conversation with them. I’ve done this many times using Facebook Messenger and it definitely closes sales.
#3 – Tell Stories
Stories transfer the reader into a different world. They get the person visualizing the scene and experiencing it almost as if they were there.
The reason stories are so compelling is because the reader is CO-CREATING it with the author. The author wrote it, but the reader is imagining it as they read it and co-creating it.
For this reason, stories also work very well to help guide people into ultimately making a purchase.
Stories help create the overall brand (think of how Apple is so tightly linked with it’s backstory of Jobs and Wozniak building their first Mac in the garage).
Stories provide mottos that can help back up the case for a product or service you are selling.
Henneke from Enchanting Marketing talks about the 4 key moments of crafting a business story:
- You had this problem.
- You got some insight through an experience.
- You fixed it.
- You now have a mission.
There are many ways to go about it and it doesn’t have to be complicated. But, stories are a way to bring people in and guide them to your product or service without pushing them into it.
This is a solid way to build infotainment into your marketing, too.
#4 – Acknowledge The Downside
Typically, sales is thought to be all about saying how awesome something is. It is all just awesome! But…
In the real world, there are always pros and cons and people know that. The expect it. And you might as well get out in front and acknowledge it.
A way to build trust is to shed light on the downside. To show the opposing viewpoint.
- Why might the offer not be right for them?
- What confusions might pop up with the product and how are they solved?
Don’t avoid it. Address it.
#5 – Sell To The Right People At The Right Time
When you violate product/market fit, all kinds of difficulties arise. So, truly effective marketing means that you’re not blasting everybody with the same offer.
See, people are different. People on your email list are different. They have different (if still related) difficulties and things on their mind. You need to talk to them accordingly.
If you treat your whole subscriber base like one big blob then you will be saying the same thing to all of them at the same time. When you decide to try to sell something, you end up making the same offer to everybody. It is practically a guarantee that it will NOT be right for the majority of them! And even if it would be good for them, they night not be in that mindset at the moment and hence not receptive.
So, you would end up feeling like you need to be pushy in order to make any sales. Not good.
The solution is to structure your business and your blog in a way to sell to people who have demonstrated that they’re interested in that specific offer – and leave everybody else alone!
If you set up according to the Blog Monetization Model, this takes care of itself.
Obviously, there’s a lot going on there and it isn’t necessary to understand the whole thing for the purposes of this post. Let’s focus in on the funnel portion of it:
What you’re doing here is utilizing multiple lead magnets to attract people into your email list based on their interest. This segments your email list into different groups based on their interest.
After they opt-in for that, they’re presented with an offer which is suited right to them based on the lead magnet they just got. You couple this with an email autoresponder sequence.
When you set up this way, your offers aren’t pushy. They might not even be visible on your blog! From the outside, people see free downloads. But, once they’ve grabbed one, only then do they see an offer.
Couple some personalization and marketing automation with this and you have a killer sales funnel behind your blog which respects your readers, puts them in the driver seat, and avoids coming off as a pushy salesman.
Also, if you need some help coming up with enough lead magnet ideas to power this, this may help:
The Bottom Line: Selling Isn’t Evil
Selling is part of life. Quite literally every product or service you’ve ever used had selling involved with the fact that it was even there to be used at all. The entire progress of civilization grinds to a halt if nobody were willing to sell anything.
“Pushy” selling only happens when (a) you’re trying to push a product on somebody that isn’t right for them, and (b) you’re not really listening to them.
Good selling is all about helping people, listening to them, teaching them how to solve what’s on their mind, and then giving them a deal to acquire a solution that truly delivers.
Ultimately, it is all about helping.
So, get out there.
Help some people.
Make some money.