If you don’t accept the tactics that scare you, you’ll never know how many opportunities you’re leaving on the table.
Entrepreneurship is full of strange and contradictory dichotomies that can cause us founders to put on a brave front, while internally shaking in our boots. For the sake of our company’s reputation and instilling confidence in a client or potential investor, opening our hearts and laying bare those fears doesn’t always make the best financial sense. However, we are scared you know what less, and that’s fine.
What are we afraid of?
- Dissatisfied customers who ruin our reputation
- Running out of track and going bankrupt or going bankrupt personally
- Ruining our careers by taking the risky leap into entrepreneurship
…which escalated quickly!
While it’s okay to be afraid of some unavoidable things, it’s not okay to let those fears keep you from implementing the intimidating and uncomfortable strategies that can really move the financial needle.
They say you’re ripping yourself off if you’re not doing something that makes you uncomfortable every day, so here are five high-converting tactics most entrepreneurs will let fear talk them out of. Don’t be like most scared entrepreneurs; embrace the discomfort
As an entrepreneur, especially if you’re a first-timer or have limited sales experience, it’s easy to assume that the key to a successful startup is to “always sell.” While that may be good for you, most entrepreneurs create an uphill battle by their misguided approach.
If you planned:
- Show off your company
- Show off your product
- brag about yourself
You’ve probably lost since the jump.
It’s easy to try to assuage our own fears and calm a prospect’s doubts by rattling off a list of credentials, accomplishments, and characteristics that reinforce how great we, our product, and our startup are. The problem? Nobody really cares.
Clients don’t care about you; they care about them. Therefore, the fastest way to convert them into a more likely sale is to side with them and show that their success is yours.
How? You can start by bragging about other customers.
I’m not talking about corny, superficial, not-so-relevant testimonials. I’m talking about in-depth bragging about other past clients that would be more relevant and related to the prospect in question.
It can be scary to make your own business an afterthought in your conversation. However, you shouldn’t, as this approach conveys one thing: you believe that your clients’ success is equal to your own company’s achievements, and you plan to work with this new prospect to ensure that you achieve an equally valuable result.
Be more humble with yourself and your startup and more braggart with your past and current clients. Make your client the star of the show, and prospects may want to star in that show too.
You know the saying about selling ice to Eskimos? While the idea of persuading someone to buy something they don’t need may sound smart or like talking about your sales skills, it sets a very bad precedent.
If you approach a sales call with the mindset that the only successful outcome is a close, you’ll immediately be biased, with giant blinders. You are approaching the prospect with a “right” outcome in mind, and therefore likely fighting all of their rebuttals and objections in an attempt to win them over. That’s not how the best sales calls work.
Instead of approaching prospects with the goal of turning everyone into a buyer, a more authentic way to build a lasting, positive connection is to facilitate an honest assessment and discovery of whether or not they need your product. If you’re working in the best interest of your prospect, you need to be prepared to walk away if your product or service isn’t the right fit.
A successful sales call doesn’t have to end in a buy order. It may end with an honest and mutual discovery that the prospect doesn’t need your ice.
It takes guts to go into a sales call prepared to walk away, not intimidated by the possibility that you won’t get a purchase. A scared and desperate entrepreneur will beg, plead, manipulate, and intimidate to twist the prospect’s arm into a “yes,” no matter how inappropriate. A confident and confident entrepreneur with a long-term vision for their business will prioritize authentic selling and won’t want to waste their time or a prospect’s by promoting a product or service that isn’t right for them.
The fallacy that plagues many novice entrepreneurs is that, as beginners in their field, they need to enter the market at bargain prices.
These entrepreneurs are afraid of scaring off customers with prices that are too high. Instead, they decide to scam themselves and burden their business with an impossible dilemma: thanks to their low prices and low margins, profitability becomes almost impossible if they implement any type of paid marketing.
That’s what I like to call a recipe for perpetual unprofitability, and it’s not one I’d recommend. While these entrepreneurs are afraid of outpricing their target market, they are also afraid of something else: making their product or service incredibly good, solid, and valuable.
In a nutshell, the solution to avoiding price objections is to make your product or service offering so unfathomable, incredibly valuable, and solid that your price, even if it’s far from the floor, looks like a bargain.
However, you can’t just get started with your product. If you’re going to make your product unreasonably good, you need to show customers that you apply this standard to everything you do. For example:
- Give away an amazing and unreasonable amount of value with your lead magnets
- Make your sales calls unreasonably educational, informative, and personalized
- Once prospects see that you make everything “unreasonably good,” they will assume or believe that your paid products or services will be the same.
Many entrepreneurs focus on cost reduction and scalability, when in the beginning, their goal should be to build a reputation of enthusiastic customer fans. The only way to do that is to heavily overdeliver, and that can mean spending an “unreasonable” amount of time building a relationship and checking in on those early customers. However, those customers could be the testimonials, referrals, and proof points that catapult your business into a word-of-mouth multiplication machine that grows like wildfire while you sleep.
Don’t be afraid to give away too much. Don’t be afraid to overextend yourself to early customers. Do not be afraid that you are setting an unsustainable and unscalable precedent. It doesn’t have to be this way forever, but the first few days are vital to exceeding expectations. If you do this, price will rarely be an objection.
In case you didn’t know, customer trust in businesses, including startups, is at an all-time low. What that means for entrepreneurs is that disarming those cynical and wary prospects and overcoming the trust barrier to making a sale has become more difficult than ever.
Prospects have been burned, some companies are bad actors, and everyone is afraid of being scammed. So the quickest way to get over this sales-impeding hurdle is to reduce friction with a guarantee that ensures you won’t take your money or offer a poor product.
Here’s the problem with money-back or satisfaction guarantees: they can incentivize bad actors to take advantage of them to the detriment of their business, and that’s what most business owners fear. But here’s the good news: amazing guarantees, coupled with overdelivery offers will make good players (ideal target customers) comfortable enough to buy from you, and that’s the point!
Warranties are there to reinforce and publicly declare the confidence you have in the efficacy of your product. If you’re too afraid to promote an obvious satisfaction guarantee, it’s probably because you don’t feel 100% sure that your product will live up to the guarantee. If that’s the case, your first task is to fix the product. An outstanding product that doesn’t promise much and more than delivers must withstand even the most liberal and generous warranties.
It’s okay to be afraid of your guarantee; a great guarantee will encourage bad actors to smirk and take advantage. That’s because they’re bad actors, not because your collateral is too generous. That doesn’t mean you let them either.
Offer amazing guarantees, but also keep stellar records to ensure you’re well-equipped to fight disputes and put bad actors in their place. As long as you get exponentially more good actors than bad actors, the guarantee should pay for itself (and compensate the bad actors) many times over.
As a former finance person who is still incredibly pro-profit and high ROI activities, this has been one of the hardest for me to get behind, but it has paid off in a big way. I’m talking about prioritizing some customer-centric activities that don’t have a direct return on investment, don’t generate new leads, and don’t necessarily increase sales.
Am I crazy with this suggestion? Done wrong, maybe, but hear me out: creating opportunities to give back to your audience and spotlight clients, former clients, or even people your brand would like to elevate, can be both an altruistic and tax-beneficial strategy. . , and reputation-building activity that reaffirms why customers love, admire and respect your company. If they don’t, they will now…
These activities can be:
- Offering a scholarship relevant to your target market and industry
- Offer a pro bono service to a party (or a select number of deserving or poor) once or several times a year
- Shouting client wins in paid PR that don’t feature or mention your company
These activities are not meant to be selfish for your company, but they are likely to come back to you in many ways. They can result in free press, positive word-of-mouth growth, and remind leads and customers that you really care about your audience and the people you serve.
Customers don’t leave glowing testimonials from companies they see as predatory, money-hungry, cold-hearted, or purely transactional. They evangelize businesses that are impactful, bold, and influential enough to move them to do their own selfless act of kindness (like leaving you a review). Reciprocity is real, and sometimes you need to step away from ROI to see the full effect.