Sometimes the best selling is not to sell at all

Sometimes when you’re selling something, it’s not right to sell something.

Like, if you don’t think the person is going to benefit from your service enough to warrant the cost.

I got an enquiry through Odesk the other day from somebody who was creating a tech startup. He’d built his product (an e-commerce analytics platform) and he was looking for somebody to create content and do PR for it.

Given my experience with Virally, this would be an ideal project for me.

So we Skyped, and I asked him a lot about it, and his story.

I asked him what the main selling points of his product were. And he talked about this and that.

But I delved deeper and it emerged that he hasn’t spoken to many (if any) e-commerce sites yet. Therefore he didn’t know what features customers valued the most.

I said that he shouldn’t  spend any money on marketing yet. And not to hire me because he doesn’t know the main reasons why people would buy his software. He shouldn’t spend money on marketing until he’s spoken to some e-commerce sites, they can critique it, and find the most valuable features to them.

I also sent him an excellent video about early-stage customer development and sales.

He was surprised that I wasn’t trying to sell myself on him. I don’t think he’d get much value from me if I don’t know why his market would buy it. It’s amazing how much trust not selling yourself brings.

Now in a couple of weeks, or a few months, he’ll have had those conversations and then be ready to hit the market. He’ll know the value that his product brings. And then he’ll still want some marketing and PR.

At which point, guess who he’ll come back to?

He’ll be an ideal client. He trusts me. He won’t try and reduce my rate. He won’t be pinickity about little details.

It just goes to show that if you can offer something valuable like content marketing or really useful advice, you attract the best people towards you.

Sometimes the best selling is not to sell at all.

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