How much does a world-class violinist make? Well, that depends on how well he markets himself. Have you heard of Joshua Bell? He is one of the finest classical musicians in the world. He plays for packed audiences all around the world, making upwards of $1,000 per minute. He plays a Stradivarius violin built in 1713, and in 2019, the instrument's value was estimated at $14 million. This particular instrument, over 300 years old, is renowned to be the most beautiful-sounding violin in the world.
So, here we have the world’s finest violinist playing the world’s finest violin. It’s safe to say that Bell, as a musician, is the best at what he does. At the height of his career, the Washington Post approached him to do a social experiment. They wanted him to play for an hour in the subway, during which thousands of people would walk by and hear him playing. So, on the morning of January 7, 2007, Bell played a set list of classical masterpieces with his violin case open. Can you guess how much the finest violinist playing the finest violin made in one hour? A grand total of $32.
The finest violinist, playing the finest violin, made a meager $32 from his customers. The same violinist and violin that just a few nights previously played in front of an audience where each paid $100 or more per ticket. During that event, Bell made over $60,000 per hour.
What’s the difference between the two nights? In a word, positioning.
If you’re a professional musician and you position yourself as a subway busker, your customers will treat you as such and pay you accordingly. Conversely, if you position yourself as a professional concert performer, you attract a totally different customer and get paid accordingly. In other words, people will generally take you at your word–unless proven otherwise.
Of course, you can’t cheat by positioning yourself as a professional musician and then show up and be unable to perform at a high level. The same applies regardless of the business you are in. If you have a high-quality product and service, what’s stopping you from positioning it at a higher level–offering at a premium price and attracting a much higher quality of customers?
This is why knowing your products, services, and top customers is vital.
Let’s say you are just sitting down for dinner after a long day of working in the shop, and the doorbell rings. You get up to answer it, but before you open the door, you peep through the peephole and see a door-to-door salesman. What is your initial reaction? Annoyance? Frustration? Do you even open the door?
Now, let’s say that when you peep through the peephole, you see your best friend with a bottle of wine or ice cream (or both). What is your initial reaction? You’re probably going to open that door as fast as you can right?
What’s the difference between these two reactions? In a word, trust.
To position your quilt shop so your customers feel like your quilt shop is their best friend, you need to build trust with them.
Over the years, your prospects have been burned too many times to trust you from day one. This isn't starting at zero; you’re starting below zero. The old adages of ABC or “always be closing” no longer works. Potential customers will do nothing if they don’t trust you.
Instead, you need to build trust. In addition to a clean and tidy shop and friendly team members, you must provide your customers with free education. When you use education, you position yourself as the expert. With education, you build relationships. With education, you make the selling process easier for both the seller and the buyer. With education, you build trust.
Now, I’m not talking about offering a free class (although you could offer one free class, like a test drive); I’m talking about offering a free pattern, free tips on how to sew this or that, or offering your opinion on what may look good with that fabric. With education and advice, you put their needs ahead of you.
Delaying the sale does two things. First, it shows you’re willing to give, long before you take, which breaks down the sales resistance. Second, it makes you the expert, not a pushy salesperson. Who would you rather buy from, a pushy salesperson salivating over their next commission or an expert educator who has your interests at heart and wants to help solve your problem?
The bottom line is don’t let them think you’re in sales for one second. The best way to do this is consultative, advisory selling using a nurturing, educational approach. This approach and system is the most cost-effective, the most enduring, the most impactful, and the most powerful marketing strategy a business owner could ever devise.
More Ways to Build Trust
Ask most people, and they will tell you that they despise working with large, dumb companies. Poor service, indifferent staff, and out-of-touch management are hallmarks of a large company. Yet, for some reason, we keep dealing with them despite knowing there are probably much better options out there.
One of the biggest reasons for this is comfort. “Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” People know that while they might not have the best service, they also know it is way less likely that they will be scammed by a large company.
This puts you at an immediate disadvantage. Most potential customers do not do the in-depth analysis to verify your quilt shop. They often take a cursory look around your shop, website, and social media and judge you by your cover.
This is why it's increasingly important to present yourself in a way that conveys trust, credibility, and confidence. As you grow and have more resources available, here are a few things you can update and improve:
Website: If you do not have one, you need one. Your website is probably one of the very first places your potential customers look. Beware of the following signals, which scream warnings (subconsciously) to potential customers as they browse your website:
No reviews or testimonials. Get these as soon as possible. This is social proof.
No phone number is listed. You need to list your phone number so everyone can see it.
A PO Box address or no address is listed. Make sure to list your address.
The overall web design is bad or outdated. Don’t skimp on design. While copywriting (the words) is most important, the look and feel of your website are second. Don’t skimp on this just to save a few bucks.
Email address: Use your domain-branded email address. As soon as you have the resources available, get a domain-branded email address and stop using Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, or Outlook.
Phone number: The number you use says a lot about you. You are perceived as a small business if you use a local number. And if you have an 800 or vanity number, you have a more national feel. Again, you need to know your target market to know what is best for you.
CRM (customer relationship management tool): As we discussed in a previous blog, you need a system to track your customers' and potential customers' information.
Using these tools and strategies can help you punch above your weight class. While these tools are not a replacement for having great products and services, they can help you manage perception and build trust.
We humans are risk averse. Tasting spoons at the ice cream shop are proof. People hold up the hold line, tasting several flavors just so that their final choice doesn’t disappoint.
Risk reversal in the form of an outrageous guarantee means that if the product or service doesn’t work out for the buyer, you’re the one who will lose something rather than the customer. An outrageous guarantee needs to be more powerful than a “money-back guarantee” or “satisfaction guaranteed.” If you have something to lose, more than just a sale, you’ll show confidence in your products and services and more easily avoid the alarm bells going off in your customer’s head, making the sale easier.
Here is a practical example. What things might I fear if I want to hire an IT company for my business? Here are a few things that come to mind:
Are they going to send a junior employee who will screw things up and have to call on a senior employee to come bail them out?
Are they going to be available when I have an emergency?
Will the problems they “fix” keep coming back?
Are they going to bamboozle me with geek speak when I ask for details?
A risk reversal guarantee or an outrageous guarantee for an IT company might be something like this:
“We guarantee that our certified and experienced IT consultants will fix your IT problems so they don’t recur. They’ll also return your call within 15 minutes and will always speak in plain English. If we don’t live up to these promises, we insist that you tell us, and we’ll credit back your account double the billable amount of the consultation.”
Compare that to “Satisfaction guaranteed.”
You must avoid satisfaction, service, quality, and dependability guarantees to be effective. These are standard. Your guarantee should be very specific and address your prospect's fear or uncertainty about the transaction.
Here is another example of a pest control company that knows that their customers don’t want the pests to come back, that the technicians won’t leave their house dirty, and that the chemicals won’t hurt their pets:
“We guarantee to rid your home of ants forever, without the use of toxic chemicals, while leaving your house in the same clean and tidy condition we found it. If you are not absolutely delighted by the service we provided, we insist that you tell us, and we’ll refund double your money.”
Is this kind of guarantee risky? Only if you consistently do a crappy job. If you are committed to giving your customers excellent service and training your team accordingly, then there is almost no risk to you. More importantly, there’s almost zero risk for your customers, which makes the sale easier.
Here’s the thing about guarantees. If you are already operating ethically, you most likely offer a guarantee but aren’t taking advantage of it in your marketing. So why not make a point of talking about something that you already do? Most people are honest and won’t abuse guarantees, especially if they received the service they were promised. Even after accounting for the ones who abuse your guarantee, you will be further ahead because a strong guarantee will attract more customers than a standard or weak guarantee.
A strong, results-oriented guarantee will also drive you to deliver an excellent customer experience. This alone ensures that it's worthwhile to have a strong guarantee. Your customers have fears. When you can name them and guarantee against them in your marketing, you give yourself an overwhelming advantage over the competition.
Setting your prices is one of the most important and difficult decisions you can make in your business. Pricing touches every aspect of your business. Get it wrong, and it causes stress and frustration. Get it right, and things are good. So, how do you know what price to set?
First, you never want to compete on price. There will always be someone out there willing to go out of business faster than with their lower prices. As you position yourself as an educator and trusted advisor, you can be more flexible on price. I hope you never have to get brain surgery, but if you do, are you going to choose the cheapest surgeon? I doubt it.
Setting your prices to match your competitor or to cover direct costs is a good starting point, but if you are not factoring in the marketing or psychological implications of price, then you are likely leaving gobs of money on the table.
Number of Options
Studies have shown that too many options can deter and prevent sales. A famous Columbia University study found that sixty percent of customers are drawn to stores with a larger selection, while forty percent are drawn to stores with a smaller selection. However, thirty percent of those who visited the store with the small selection made a purchase, while only three percent of those visiting the store with the larger selection made a purchase.
If there are too many options, we get stalled out and can’t make a decision. Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “You can have any color you want, as long as it is black.” Even Apple only makes a few variants of their product lines, and when they made more than just a few variants, they didn’t perform as well (remember the iPhone C?).
Unless you have a very specific reason for discounting, avoid it. A better option is to increase the value of your offer. You can do this by bundling and adding bonuses. From a numbers perspective, it has the same effect as discounting, but psychologically, it is very different.
Close Down the Sales Prevention Department
Your job is to make doing business with you as easy as possible. By not accepting certain credit cards or adding a surcharge, you add a hurdle your customers have to jump over. The few pennies saved are costing dollars. Stop doing this.
Look for roadblocks and hurdles that are preventing sales and work to remove or reduce them. Again, your goal is to make it easy to do business with you.
What are you going to do next to improve your trust with your prospects and customers? Tell me in the comments below or email me at email@example.com.
If you need help with this and piecing together financial freedom, please schedule a call with me by clicking the link below.