You’re sitting at a bar, enjoying a beer when a cute guy or girl comes up and sits next to you. You exchange a few pleasantries. You’re starting to warm up and getting interested in where this is going. Then, without warning, your new “friend” leans in and plants a big wet kiss on your lips. Unless you’re already more than a little inebriated, you would probably be a bit put off by this sudden unasked for advance. And if you are already drunk, you will probably see this person as an easy hook-up, not someone that you’re excited to have a relationship with.
But that’s what so many people in business do. They escalate the relationship before it’s time. They forget to earn trust before making a sale.
The worst thing you can do is try to sell to someone before you earn their trust.
A few months ago, I went to a co-working event in Hollywood, Florida, a good 45 minute drive from where I live in downtown Miami. The organizer and I were happily working on our perspective businesses when 2 guys showed up. They sat down, shook our hands, and made small talk. Then the organizer asked about their business. Instead of the 3-5 sentence explanation we expected, they opened their laptops and proceeded to launch into a 45 minute demonstration of their MLM travel business. Both the organizer and I squirmed uncomfortably, until she finally found a reason to get them to stop the presentation. Then they abruptly left, saying they had another meeting to attend.
If these 2 guys had approached the situation differently, and actually tried to get to know us, they may have avoided wasting an hour of their (and our) time. Even though we didn’t buy into their program, we may have known someone else who might be interested. Or we could have given them some insight into how to sell more effectively.
I see the same thing happening on Twitter. I’ve only become active on it very recently, and already I’ve encountered many people who try to sell right away. They follow me, and when I follow them back, they send a link to their sales funnel. Or they send me to a free opt-in, and then their immediate follow-up email is a sales pitch for something.
Geez. Can’t you wait a few minutes before you try to take my money?
Have you ever noticed that the most influential and successful online business people rarely try to sell you something?
Consider Pat Flynn. He never sells anything. All he does is offer incredible advice, and provide resources that work for him. By doing this he actually makes people eager to buy his affiliate products. He is making around $80 thousand per month without any aggressive (or even obvious) selling.
What about the guys at Internet Business Mastery? They have an incredible podcast with amazing tips in every episode, and they do mention their paid Academy, but they never push it on their listeners. After listening to their podcast for 4 months, I joined their Academy, and I was really happy to pay them for it.
How about John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur on Fire? He produced daily podcasts for 6 months before making sponsorship money, and in the process, built so much trust that he made a quarter million dollars in profits in July 2014. Holy crap.
Why is it so off-putting to sell before earning trust?
When you try to sell too soon, you come off as uncaring and desperate. The other person can tell that you’re not interested in them or in adding value to their lives, but only in their cash. No one wants to feel that way.
So how do you build trust? And when do you start selling?
There are lots of ways to build trust. Online, you do it by creating great content, helping people, and inspiring them. In person, you do it by really listening to other people, asking them questions about themselves and their goals, and building strong relationships. Once you’ve built trust with enough people, you will have others walking in your door, already trusting you because of what their friends told them.
As for when to start selling, do it when it doesn’t feel like selling, but instead, offering something you already know the other person wants. And if that never happens, don’t sell to that person. Not everyone is meant to be a client or customer. But they might just become a friend and advocate.
Have you ever endured a premature sales pitch? Share about it in the comments.