As a business owner, your job isn’t to talk people into buying from you.
You’re not trying to persuade. Instead, your job is to permit.
What do I mean? I mean that if you have to talk someone into doing something, it probably isn’t the right thing for them to do, or at least it’s not the right time.
Even if you can convince them in the moment, they’ll probably regret it later, resent you, or slowly lose interest in whatever it is you’ve convinced them to do, buy, or sign up for.
Some businesses try to “solve” this problem by staffing up on customer success and customer service employees whose sole job is to talk people out of bailing on something they’d been talked into buying in the first place.
But you can save yourself an awful lot of money, time, and effort if you switch your focus to people who already want what you sell. Not need, but want.
That’s a crucial distinction, because if you let yourself believe there are people out there who “need” you but just don’t realize it, you can convince yourself that it’s okay to do or say anything to get them to buy.
You can let yourself think that because what you do is so important, you have every right to hound your prospects with sales calls, spam their inboxes or DMs, or stuff their P.O. boxes with flyers for services they don’t want printed on paper they wish you’d saved.
But talking people into buying things isn’t just wrong in the moral sense, it’s also spectacularly inefficient in the practical one.
What’s far more efficient, fun, and fulfilling is to see your product, service, or business as something that some people desperately want—because you’ve made the right tradeoffs to serve them best—they just don’t have the permission to buy it.
Perhaps they need permission from themselves, from the stories they were brought up with and internalized that taught them they’re not allowed to have what they want.
Or maybe they need permission from a colleague, a manager, or a life or business partner—decent, kind, but skeptical voices who need your specific value expressed to them in ways they can appreciate and support.
Or perhaps they simply need permission in the form of awareness—they would love to buy what you have, they just had no idea they could.
Find those people, and give them the permission they need to make the progress they want to make in their life or business thanks to what your product or service unlocks for them.
Don’t try to be clever by burying your prices on the last page of your proposal—that only guarantees your prospects will skip right past all your fancy phrasing and justifications.
When someone expects a high price but it’s kept from them, they’re not gamely listening to your pitch and giving you the benefit of the doubt—they’re thinking, “If it takes this much justification, it’s gotta be overpriced.”
But if you tell people your value upfront, and then give them detail, they’ll interpret those additional details in the context of your cost. Instead of thinking, “I wonder how much all this is going to cost me,” as they read your proposal, they’re thinking, “At this price, all these extra details actually make it an incredible deal.”
Because, if you’re talking to the right people, they want to buy from you.
If you’re simply in conversation with a prospect, don’t wait until you’ve expressed all your amazing traits and features before you give them an idea of your costs. Tell them upfront what they can expect, even if it’s just a range, so when you do tell them about your amazing features they know how to value them appropriately.
Never leave that first conversation with a prospect without giving them some expectations about the final price. With that information in their hand or head, they can spend the intervening time between your first conversation and your next convincing themselves to work with you, whatever the cost.
But if you give them a taste of your work but no sense of the price, they’ll spend the intervening time worrying how much you’re going to try to charge them, and how they’re going to let you down easy if it’s too much for them.
Now, this all only works if you’re talking to people who already want what you have to sell. But that’s where you should be focusing anyway. Let people with money, time, or ego to burn “generate demand”—while you spend your efforts fulfilling it.
And all it takes is knowing your values and what you stand for.
And then designing your offering around tradeoffs that lean into serving your best customers the best way you know how, and jettisoning everything else.
And then promoting the additional value (in money, quality, efficiency, reliability, etc.) that these tradeoffs create.
When you do that, the people who want what you have will beat a path to your door—instead of ignoring your calls or sending your emails to Junk.
Start seeing your marketing, not as convincing the reluctant to buy, but as giving permission to the eager to spend, and it all gets so much easier.
Because a client you have to convince once has to be re-convinced every day.
But a client that wants what you sell only needs permission to buy the very first time.