So the other day I’m Christmas shopping here in Costa Rica, which is automatically hilarious because, first of all, because they spell “Ho Ho Ho!” like “Jo Jo Jo!” which never gets less funny, and second, because Santa was dressed in a royal blue suit. (I still haven’t decided if this is posh or ridiculous, but I give him points for thinking outside the
box North Pole.)
So naturally, at one point I apparently decided Christmas shopping would be much more productive if I started buying things for myself (because, buying things for myself), and made the interesting decision to pop into one of those seedy mall-hair-salon-deals, which we all know is a terrible, horrible idea, except there doesn’t seem to be anywhere else in the entire mall that sells hair goods, so…limitations. Does this still qualify as a first world problem if I’m in Costa Rica? I’LL LET YOU MULL THAT OVER.
An angry girl with the hot pink skunk hair immediately approached, which kind of scared me because I thought she might eat me. I tell angry girl I’m looking for the best hair masque they sell (given that my handsome sweetheart of a hunk recently confirmed that my hair in a ponytail did, in fact, look exactly like horse hair.)
Before I can say another word, angry girl lurches toward me and begins fingering my hair, grinding my tips between her forefinger and thumb, and making a surprising noise that sounds what I can only describe to be like a cross between a dying cow and a fake orgasm. This makes me feel uncomfortable, not because she’s faking orgasms in public, but because I am that embarrassed by my horse hair.
Next thing I know, Angry Birds plops two tubs down on the counter and quickly glosses over both (two points for hair puns?) in rapid fire Spanish before promptly handing them over to the register girl and telling me to have a nice day. And just like that, I was discarded with the flip of her skunk tail.
But before she could escape the likes of this stuttery American, I quickly pipe up.
“Thanks, but I don’t need the shampoo. Just the treatment.”
“But the shampoo goes with the treatment,” she says, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“That’s okay, I’ll just take the treatment.”
“But you need to use them together.”
“Just the treatment, thanks.”
“Okayyyy,” she hisses, obviously annoyed.
“Thank youuuu,” I hiss back, more annoyed.
Of course, I’m less annoyed that she’s rude, and more annoyed that she’s a horrible sales person.
And yet, while most people would agree that pushy, presumptuous sales tactics are a major no-no: Surprisingly, this is the way most people (accidentally) try to sell their things online.
The pushy emails that add no value but simply yell, yell, yell. The all-or-nothing, buy-my-stuff-or-get-out mentality. The bullshit false scarcity – there are only two spots left! (Two spots left, my ass; you’re selling an eBook.) And most of all, the lazy, irresponsible sales technique that seems to be, “Here’s my stuff, now buy it,” rather than, “Here’s why this is important for you.”
Too many people focus on the what of their offer. Here’s what you get. Here’s what’s included. Here’s what it costs. Here’s what to do next. And they woefully neglect the most important part: The why.
Why do I need this?
Why do I need this right now?
And why do I need this, right now, from YOU?
These are the most important things you need to address when making any kind of offer, and especially now around the holidays.
You might be selling something great, but unless you can help me understand why it’s important for me to have it right this second, I will always justify waiting. And so will every other customer, when given the chance. It’s human nature to procrastinate. And buying is no exception.
The only way around it?
Create genuine excitement.
And create it, not by spraying a bunch of nonsense about what it is (i.e. “it’s the shampoo you need”) but why it is that I need it, and need it right now. (i.e. It’s the other killer secret ingredient that will make your hair instantly look 100% silkier, without ever having to flat iron it, right in time for the hectic holiday season, when you to strut up to that holiday party after baking pies all day, knowing that, at the very least, one accessory you’ve got on everyone else? Is gorgeous hair.)
Notice, the why isn’t just what the tangible benefit is (i.e. “it’s the other killer secret ingredient to silly hair”), but rather, the emotional, time-sensitive benefit as well.
Because that’s what really matters to people.
And as it turns out, selling isn’t about pushing.
It’s about caring.
And so the question becomes, not whether your customers know it when they see it (they do), but whether or not you?
Know it when you sell it.
A Syndicated Column