I recently watched an old episode of Shark Tank and learned a valuable lesson about selling products or services. If you want to sell more pens, crafts, or whatever, then just shut up.
For those who have never seen Shark Tank, I highly encourage you to check it out. The show’s about 5 entrepreneur/venture capitalists who listen to pitches from new inventors or new business start-ups. The goal is to convince at least one of the Shark Tank entrepreneurs to invest in your product/service or idea.
On one particular episode, a gentleman was trying to sell a service and during his pitch he made the comment that he was the best salesman on earth (or something like that). This, of course, didn’t impress the Shark Tank panel. Mark Cuban couldn’t resist; he interrupted the man and handed him a pen. He asked the guy to sell him the pen.
Immediately the “greatest salesman on earth” went into all the features of the pen to convince Mark to buy it. The guy was imposing on Mark what he thought, not what Mark was thinking.
In a word–fail!
No, what he should have done was ask Mark what he looked for in a pen and then–just shut up and listen.
This all caught my attention because I do occasionally (and literally) sell pens. Handmade wooden pens, to be exact. But I also sell other crafts, and I try to promote my website and its value to the how-to and DIY community. I learned a lot from that Shark Tank episode. The episode also reminded me of a huge nugget of advice I mined from Stephen Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In that book, Covey talks about habit 5: Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
So how have I applied this new-found knowledge? I do a lot more listening and observing. I try to understand why someone wants (or needs) to buy my craft or service. Perhaps they need a unique gift for a special occasion. Could there be something about my product that strums their heart strings? Sometimes my product makes them look good or provides a way to impress their friends. It makes a statement about them. Not me.
Why would someone shell over good money to buy a handmade item, when mass-produced ones are much cheaper? I ask myself that question a lot.
Another question I visit a lot—how can my website offer value? Maybe someone is retired and they are looking for ways to get plugged into a new hobby. Anyone who’s new to a hobby needs great instructions and tutorials. Maybe someone is looking for content to share on their blog.
Also, I like to stalk a few online forums. And on those forums I try not to spam or flippantly share advice. I probably spend more time reading and trying to discover what people are asking or searching for. Forums can give me valuable information on what the needs are and what kind of articles I should be writing and/or sharing.
On DIY sites I pay a lot of attention to comments. What are people commenting about? This often holds clues as to how a particular how-to article brought the reader value.
I also poll my audience from time to time. I ask them what they’d like to see more of and what products they like. And the question behind the question—why do they like it? So learn how to ask key questions, then sit back and listen. I bet you’ll be more successful and sell more. Good luck!
I hope this article was a big help to you on your journey to help others and provide a useful product or service. Please leave a comment below. Maybe you have additional war stories or tips and advice.