I recently received a letter from a nice lady I’ll call “Lynn” that reminded me of something very important.
It is something that can thwart your efforts to start your own business. It is probably the main reason why smart and talented people never enjoy financial independence. It is big. It is bad. But it is also invisible.
And that’s the real problem. If you can’t see it, you are unlikely to do anything about it.
I myself was held back by this invisible problem for many years. It prevented me from pursuing my own career. It blocked me from making a lot of money.
But when I finally saw it clearly, I eliminated it quickly. After that, everything fell into place.
Here’s Lynn’s letter:
“I’ve worn many hats, juggled them off and on in my years as Mother, Grandmother, Realtor, Concessionaire, and Artist Retailer/Wholesaler. Love, divorce, custody issues, death, inheritance, bankruptcy, accidents, health issues, friendship, betrayal — I’ve either been through it or carried someone through it.
“What I seem to do best is calm nerves and give good advice, to the point where it often interferes with other endeavors. I’ve seriously thought about ETR’s Internet business ideas, but I’m wary of selling things. It seems that, among family and friends at least, I am the oracle, the witchy matriarch with the final answer. The trendy term ‘life coach’ isn’t quite it. I want to be like an e-mail comforter. A listener of last resort. A sounding board.
“It’s the only thing I think I’m really quite good at. Could this be a business?”
Do you see Lynn’s problem?
I do. It isn’t about choosing the right business to go into. It is much more serious than that. Lynn’s problem is that she is “wary of selling.”
How can Lynn hope to be successful at business — any business — if she is wary of selling?
And what is especially interesting to me is that she voices her problem without recognizing it. Rather than understand that her fear of selling is the issue, she has convinced herself that what is holding her back is not knowing whether the particular business she has chosen can work.
Can it work?
Yes. But not if she is wary of selling!
Business is selling. It doesn’t matter whether you want to sell pots and pans, horticultural information, custom-built homes, or hash pipes — unless you are willing to market your product, you won’t succeed.
Lynn suffers from a common delusion. She believes that there are two kinds of people: honest, hardworking people who don’t sell… and greedy, self-centered people who do.
Whether they’re dealing with “things” or ideas, everyone has in their heart a voice that wants to persuade others to buy what they’re selling. So the first thing Lynn needs to do is to make friends with her inner salesperson.
Some of the best marketers I’ve ever trained detested selling when they came to work with me. They had the typical liberal arts education — the one that perpetuates the ludicrous myth that teachers and museum curators and novelists don’t make a living by selling.
I prefer to work with young people like that because their reluctance to “sell” can be converted to a desire to sell with integrity. Business school graduates are often jaded when it comes to selling. They don’t become great salespeople because they never get beyond the tricks and techniques. They never really want to make a personal connection.
But enough about that right now. Let’s get to Lynn’s question.
Lynn says she can deliver comfort. But will people pay for it?
Yes… but not if she calls it comfort.
Think about what therapists do. They charge pretty good money to give people comforting advice. Yes, there are some who deliver discomfort — but they don’t stay in business very long. People pay therapists to make them feel good. If you’ve ever been in therapy with a successful therapist, you already know that.
But if therapists said that they were in the business of making their clients feel good, no one would take them seriously and no one would pay them good money for their comforting advice. So rather than advertise what they are really selling, they advertise their methodology (Freudian, Behaviorist, etc.) or the type of “problems” they deal with (addiction, obsessive compulsive disorders, etc.).
Since Lynn isn’t a trained psychotherapist, she can’t honestly advertise those sorts of things. So she will have to come up with her own ideas about why people get themselves into trouble and how they can find solutions. These ideas will form themselves into a unified whole, if she thinks about them long enough. This unified whole is what we call an “intellectual franchise.” That’s what Lynn needs to develop. And then she needs to test it to see if it sells.
Remember, starting a business and making it a success is not just a matter of having a good idea. The idea has to be one that people will be happy to pay money for.
So if you are in Lynn’s position — looking to turn your idea into a profitable business — you have to become comfortable with selling.
How do you do that when you are “wary of selling,” as Lynn puts it?
The first step is to understand that there are two kinds of selling:
1. Pushing people (to buy things they don’t want)
2. Helping people (to select those things they do want to buy)
Pushy salespeople — the telemarketer who calls you while you’re eating dinner, the broker who calls you on the weekend with a “hot deal,” the proverbial used-car salesman — delight in persuading you to do what you don’t want to do. Such salespeople see the selling process as a kind of battle where they bully and beat you into submission. It’s an ego game for them, and your acquiescence — even if you really do want the product — is an indication that they’ve won.
Such salespeople should be pilloried and run out of town. They are the same kind of people who get a kick out of not letting you merge in traffic and cutting ahead of you in the supermarket line.
Fortunately, salespeople who understand that their job is to solve a customer’s problem or help him meet a need are more common than their obnoxious cousins.
How would Lynn go about doing that?
Let’s say she has a prospective client whose main concern is the future of his marriage. What she would do, in this case, is ask him questions about it and find out, in as much detail as possible, what his worries are. Having done this, she would be in a great position to address each one — to explain how her product (her advice) can give him effective solutions. By driving home the benefits of her product — benefits the prospect cares about — she is making a very strong sales presentation. She is telling him exactly what he wants to hear.
Remember — your prospect wants to be sold. So long as you help him understand how your product can help him achieve his desires or solve his problems, he will be prejudiced in your favor.
So don’t sell him, help him. Begin by finding out what he wants and needs. And then (if and only if you can really help him), make the strongest, most specific case you can to convince him that his desires will be achieved and his problems solved.
Next, you need to start testing various ways to position your product… preferably on the Internet… until you find one that catches on.
And then, to grow your business, you will have to produce lots of products that tie into your initial business idea and lots of sales letters to convince people to buy them.
This is a rough outline of what will be involved in making Lynn’s business work. It is not easy, but it is definitely doable.
The Internet has lowered all the barriers. Lynn can set up a website for a few hundred dollars in a single day. She can begin generating traffic to that website through a combination of inexpensive pay-per-click (PPC) ads and organic search techniques.
Step by step, she can develop a little business that initially brings in a few hundred dollars a week and then a few thousand a week. And then she can move on to more ambitious marketing techniques that will leapfrog her into the big time.
None of what she has to do is rocket science. Tens of thousands of people all around the world are making six-figure incomes from the comfort of their own homes. Lynn can and should be one of them.
But she must begin by getting over her distaste for selling. And then she must follow a proven formula that will allow her to take full advantage of the cheap costs and wide reach of the Internet.
There are two paths Lynn can take:
One way is to subscribe to the Liberty Street League newsletter (on sale now at 50% off for new members) and take full advantage of all their reports. This will cost her nothing but the $49 she pays for membership plus whatever money she invests in marketing tests. The process will take about a year if she is conscientious.
A more efficient way is to come to Early to Rise’s 5 Days in July Internet Business Building conference.
By attending this event, Lynn will be able to get her business up and running within 5 days. She will get all the help and support she needs from the very same expert online marketers who are responsible for the success of Early to Rise and Agora Inc.
- Don’t have a product? We’ll help you develop a website full of them at the event.
- Don’t know how to build a website? We’ll show you how to use one of the easiest pieces of site-building software ever developed.
- Don’t know how to write sales copy? We’ll show you the “hidden” structure behind all good copy — and how to follow that formula yourself.
And that’s just a small taste of what you’ll get.
Basically, ETR will take you by the hand and walk you through the entire process… until you have a fully functioning Internet business.[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]