In my opinion, selling is like the ritual of dating: the more you go after someone, the faster they run away. To really succeed as a marketer, you’ve got to let them come to you independently — or at least think that they have.
The prospect must feel as if they need you more than you need them. Now, some people call that manipulation. I’m fine with that. You should be, too, if you have to think of it that way; because otherwise, you’re losing out on a lot of money that could and should be yours.
I knew this fellow years ago, when I was in my early twenties and still out there chasing girls. He wasn’t that good-looking, but he did really well: he had women hanging all over him.
So I asked him, “What’s your secret?” Well, he told me something I’ve never forgotten and that I hope you’ll never forget: “All I do is take the back table, sit there, and let them come to me.”
At the time, I thought he was just cocky and egotistical; and maybe he was. But I realize now that there was something to what he was saying, because the rest of us were chasing women… and the harder we chased them, the faster they ran.
Where did they run? They ran right to this guy, the one with that attitude of, “Hey! If you want to be with me, that’s fine. If you don’t want to be with me, that’s okay too.”
There’s power in that kind of attitude. Although it’s subtle, it’s very real. We recognize this in other things as well. There are certain people who attract others, and some who just seem to repel them.
Part of that repulsion is that some people just try way too hard. Most people don’t like that, so the harder the repulsers try, the worse things are. On the other hand, some people are simply there: if you like them, that’s great. They have no problem with you liking them. If you don’t like them, that’s fine; they have no problem with that, either.
The famed marketer Dan Kennedy has a concept called “takeaway selling,” and what that’s all about is putting it out there and pretending that you don’t need them as much as they need you. Dan said that in the early years, when he was struggling financially, barely making it, just barely able to pay his bills, he used this method often.
When a new client would call him up (or an old client that hadn’t done business with him for a while), even if his schedule was wide open, he would say, “Let me look at my calendar first.”
Then he would put his phone down and come back in a little bit and say, “No, no. Next week is out. Sorry, the week after that is out too. But I do have an opening three weeks from now… No, actually I’ve got two openings.
Three weeks from now we can make it on Tuesday the 14th, or we can make it on Thursday the 16th… And I might be able to slot you in on that Friday morning, on the 17th, maybe.”
Think about that. The guy is practically starving, he desperately needs money, and he really wants to get the clients right then and there. But he knows that the more the client senses that he’s desperate, the more likely they are to run.
So you’ve got to be the one running; you can’t be chasing, at least not in the perception of the client. The chaser has less power than the chased, in this scenario… so never sound like you’re too desperate. People don’t like that. Desperation is not an attractive quality.
All your marketing, all the communications that you send out to your customer base, must come from a position of strength and power. That way, your customers are the ones chasing you, rather than vice versa. You don’t want to seem like an ambulance chaser, desperate to be picked.
That’s pretty much the kiss of death when you’re looking for a date, and it’s just as bad when you’re looking for a customer. No one wants to feel like you picked them because you just had to have someone. They want to feel special… and even more, they want to feel they’ve chosen you.
If you’re a bit elusive, if it seems like you’re not seeking them out, if you’re just putting the offer out there and you seem like you don’t really care whether they say yes or no… That can make people want to chase you.
You’re saying your offer probably isn’t going to be for them, which is what makes it attractive to them. They decide they need to prove you wrong — and when you try to talk them out of it, they want it even more.
I’ve got a favorite line that relates to this concept, one that I’ve adapted from someone else. It goes like this: “Whether you respond or not, I’m going to be eating steak tonight.” That kind of line just drips with this concept of indifference, or even arrogance.
“Hey! Say yes, say no, doesn’t make a difference to me. I’m doing fine either way. I’ll be eating a nice juicy T-bone steak tonight no matter what.” What that’s saying to them is, “It’s not going to bother me if you say no.
In fact I’d rather you did say no, because that means I don’t have to take your order and do the work.” You don’t say it that obviously, but that’s the general idea behind the message that you present.
It’s saying, “Your order isn’t going to make or break me. I’m not depending on you, so if you want to depend on me, that’s fine. If you need me, that’s great. But I don’t need you.” Doing that will make your offer appear less desperate. You don’t want to go too far with this, of course, but you certainly don’t want to go in the opposite direction at all.
When your sales message comes across as desperate, it sounds like you need customers so bad you don’t discriminate. You’ll take anybody and everybody who will buy.
That kind of message can backfire, because when you’re so desperate that anyone will do, that’s a bit insulting — just like with dating. On the other side of the coin, if you make people feel like you’re not desperate at all, if you make the feel like you don’t really need them, you’ll find that they’ll chase you even harder.
For example: if you tell people that an offer is limited and that there’s a good chance that they’re not going to be able to get in on it, they’ll fight to be a part of it. Let’s say there are only 23 positions available, so you try to talk them out of buying; you put across the impression, “If you buy this, it’s going to be a real hassle for me.” If that’s the tone behind your sales message, people will chase you harder for it. They’ll kick down doors to get your offer.
In the past, when we’ve told people that there were just a few positions or items available in the offer, we’ve had people FedEx us their order form. Now, why would someone pay $20 or $30 to overnight a single sheet of paper to us?
They could have faxed it. But they absolutely, positively had to get it here overnight, because the fear of missing out was so strong that they didn’t want to take the chance of doing so.
People will sometimes do crazy things when they’re desperate to respond to your offer; and that kind of action lets you know that people are excited and want to do business with you. So create an atmosphere that makes people want to do business with you, an atmosphere where they feel like they’re choosing you instead of feeling like you’re hunting them down.