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Finding a customer to make a sale vs making a sale to find a customer

The way you think about sales dramatically impacts the growth of your business. 

When you are finding a customer to make a sale, you are thinking short-term, about promotions, about putting your product in front of many people so that someone would buy. And then you rinse and repeat. 

But when you make a sale to find a customer, your thinking shifts. Because once you have found the customer, your number one concern is to nurture that relationship and make sure they are delighted, so they bring referrals. In this case, your customers become your sales force. And your cost of acquisition drops. 

When you make a sale, and the customer is not telling anyone, your product or service is likely not that good. And that is normal when you begin. You need to continue to iterate on it, have conversations with your customers and improve it. Asking for feedback is crucial if you want to create value for your audience and not just for yourself. You might discover that what you thought was high-value, your customers actually don’t care for it. 

Another shift that happens when you focus on your relationship with the customers and not the sale is that you focus on creating value over time for that same customer. Then they might choose to pay for a subscription or purchase different, more expensive items from you. They are now on a journey with you, instead of getting their money and forgetting about them. 

I have only recently discovered this for myself, so I am looking for ways and tools to help me build that relationship with old customers and allow them to help me make my offers better. 

(credit Alex Hormozi)

Don’t build a website. Build a sales funnel!

This title caught my eye on the web. I have been thinking about it ever since.

It is a brilliant title because it immediately shifts your thinking about what you are building and for whom. 

When you are setting out to build a website before you answer the tough questions of what’s it for and who’s it for, you will be staring at a blank canvas, not knowing where to start, what should be at the bottom, and what are the items that you should have in the navigation. 

But if instead, you focus on building a sales funnel, everything suddenly snaps into focus. 

Sales funnels have a particular purpose: to convert an interested visitor into a customer. 

They accomplish this by guiding your visitor through a journey, from being interested, to being inspired, then making a purchase, and being a happy customer. 

And this journey could happen on your site, via email, or social media. 

Simply by reading the three paragraphs above, you have a much better idea of what your initial page should have on it: for sure, you need a way to capture that customer’s email so they can get on the journey. And you may not even need to have a top-navigation on that page! 

What if you build your website in a very purposeful way, where each page and each component of a page needs to have a business reason for being there? Would you do away will all the fluff? Will you focus on what your audience needs instead of what everyone else is doing?

Listening well is hard

You would think that listening is the easiest thing in the world. Provided you have two good working ears, all you need to do is sit back, relax and allow the information to come in. 

This is what I used to believe, but I was wrong. 

So how do you listen well? 

  1. You lean in.
  2. You nod.
  3. You summarize back what was said to you.
  4. You mirror the other person’s body language. 
  5. You say things like “I see,” “I understand.”
  6. You make eye contact. 

Unfortunately, all of the above are tools for you to pretend that you listen well and try to trick the other person into thinking you are paying attention. 

Listening is more of an internal affair than what you show externally. 

Listening is so hard because of the noise in our heads. How can we genuinely make space and listen intently to the other person when the voice in our heads drives us crazy?

We may start with good intentions and an open heart, but sooner or later, something will happen that will start the chatter-box:

“Oh my God, this looks like a long story, and I haven’t had lunch yet!”

“Did I forget to turn the heater off? I hope I did not start a fire! need to make a mental note to call home.”

“Should I tell her she has something in her teeth?”

“What do you mean I didn’t tell you about this? I TOTALLY DID!”

“Oh, wait a minute… wait a minute… oh SHUT UP ALREADY so I can say something!”

“Oops… must do eye contact! And remember to nod! And… I have a meeting with the boss later on that worries me sick!”

Not listening properly greatly affects how we do business. We are so focused on talking, on proving that we know our business that we don’t stop and listen really hard. When you don’t listen, you are missing vital information that could help you craft a better custom solution or give you leverage in a negotiation with your clients. 

“Contrary to popular opinion, listening is not a passive activity. It is the most active thing you can do.” – Chris Voss

Listening well is a skill, so it is trainable. Start by noticing the noise in your head and make it a practice to now allow it to take away your attention. If your mind is too busy, show respect for you and your partner and let them know you cannot truly listen to what they have to say right now, rather than pretending that you care. Meditation or other mindfulness practice also helps. 

We are human beings first and business people second. Listening well is a great way to honor this principle. 

 

Etsy, is it good for you?

The short answer is: it does not hurt! 

And now, here is why:

Selling your handcrafted items or services on Etsy has some significant advantages:

  1. It is effortless to get started – there is no technology barrier. You fill out forms about you and your offerings, and that’s it. This is a big deal. Learning new tech or hiring help can be super expensive and time-consuming. 
  2. There are no upfront costs to you – no need to pay for website development, hosting, or a custom e-store solution. Again, you can just start today!
  3. There are automatic tax calculations and shipping calculations.
  4. You can easily add tracking information to your dispatched orders.
  5. You automatically benefit from the audience that Etsy has built, and that is huge if you are just starting with your marketing.

With all these goodies, why am I not hyper-excited about Etsy?

It is because all the advantages above come with a “flip side.”

It is so easy to get started because there is little to no customization you can do for your store. All the stores look the same. They look like an Etsy store. The images are the only differentiator under your control. 

And this brings me to another point: You don’t really have your own Etsy shop; what you have is “shelf space” in the Etsy market space. The shelf is ready-made; you only get to place your product in it. 

This restriction makes it super hard to build brand awareness. In fact, selling on Etsy builds up their brand, not yours. 

Another significant issue is that you have no control over what is next to you on the shelf. Instead of your other products, Etsy places products from your competitors. To understand why this happens, think of the business model that Etsy uses: they don’t care what vendor makes a sales, as long as one of them does. So it makes sense for them to have vendors compete against each other for similar items. This practice is bad marketing for your brand but excellent for Etsy.

Etsy makes money by focusing on the end customer (which is not the vendor) and its brand. People who come to browse Etsy rarely return to visit a specific shop (read “shelf”). They instead want to check “what else is available in the huge market place.” (As a side note: Shopify is different – they focus on the vendor and allow the vendor to take care of their customers)

Indeed, getting on Etsy will automatically put you in front of the entire Etsy audience. And that is both good and bad. It is useful when you are just starting, you are new to marketing, and you have no audience of your own. Then you benefit tremendously from the exposure. But it is terrible news in the sense that it is not “your audience,” and Etsy will not just simply hand it over to you. They will make sure you don’t compete with their brand, so your “store” will always look like an “Etsy store.” They allow for a newsletter subscription but not to you, but Etsy instead. And since your products are discoverable via search, you need to use the product title to optimize for search results, not for brand awareness. 

Finally, no upfront cost to you, and no monthly subscription means they have to take a cut out of each sale. 

It may look like I am making Etsy be the bad guy, profiting over the vendors who use the platform. That is not the case. Everything they are doing makes perfect sense for their business model and the people they are looking to serve. I am writing this article to make you aware of the full picture as you look at it from both sides of the coin. And if you understand what and why they are doing, you can work with them and not against them. 

So, is Etsy good for you? 

I would say that is an excellent place to start, but if you want to grow, you will eventually need to build your brand and store and have Etsy be just one of the sales channels but not the only sales channel

Full disclosure: I am not selling anything on Etsy – so this analysis is my overview based on what I can understand of their business model and my own experience with having an online shop. Therefore I recommend you read this review from someone who is actively using Etsy, and, as always, I recommend you get the best coaching you can afford to help you maximize your revenue from Etsy. Coaching helps you by accelerating your learning. Instead of the slow path of guesswork and mistakes, you already get the map and the guide. You may choose not to follow it, but you at least know how the roadmap to a successful Etsy shop looks like. A word of caution here: when you look at a successful Etsy store, try to understand if they have a repeatable process or they simply lucked out :).

Did you have any “aha!” moments? Share them below.