Sales isn’t a bad word

This is an excerpt from a book I wrote a few years ago regarding how to market and sell your book with limited resources.

There are a lot of negative stigmas associated with the word “Sales.” 

I don’t like that. 

I was listening to an interview with actor and former Fourth Doctor from the famous television series “Doctor Who,” Tom Baker, when he said something that I felt fit perfectly. 

I’m paraphrasing, but he said, “Everything is seduction. You seduce an employer to hire you and you seduce a new acquaintance into being your friend.” 

My quote isn’t exact. As a matter of fact, I’m probably even remembering it wrong, except for the part “Everything is seduction.” He definitely said that. 

I digress. My point is that your audience is only going to buy from someone they like, so seduce them. That’s what sales is. 

If I’m a printer salesman, I’m going to walk into a business, any business, and I’m not going to walk up to the secretary’s desk and say “Hey, wanna buy a printer?” 

That doesn’t sell anything, at all. 

Instead, I’m going to walk up to the secretary’s desk, and say something like, “Hi,” I’ll take my hat off and gently stick out my hand for a shake. “My name is Matt. How are you today?” 

That’s two sentences and I’ve said nothing about printers. Why? Because, even though it’s just small talk, it’s endearing. I’m demonstrating that I’m someone who actually wants to know how his or her day is going. 

I’m not being overly aggressive, I’m just being polite. The secretary knows that I’m there for some sort of business reason, but already he or she is more inclined to talk to me, just because I’ve disarmed them by being pleasant. 

I’ve seduced them. 

Of course, this is a staged example, but try it in a book environment. 

At your next book signing (or possibly your first, so, good luck!), don’t be the author that sits behind the table and waits for someone to engage them, but also don’t be the author who is shouting “Buy my book, please!” 

Instead, just greet everyone who walks within five feet of your table. If you’re feeling gutsy, walk around and introduce yourself. 

I spent 3 years selling e-readers, and while I was a trapped victim for the chatty people, I actually had them just as trapped in my web. My e-reader booth was set up directly in front of the door to the store, so I greeted anyone who came in with a very bright and sincere smile, a hello, and followed it up with a “How is your day going?” Somewhere around sixty percent of the time, people would just ignore me or nod as a means of acknowledging me. The rest of the time, they engaged me. They said hi back, or discussed their drive in. We began discussing other things, and I would find a way to turn it back toward the device that I was trying to sell. 

That works at your hypothetical book signing as well. You’ve made your greetings, you’ve asked them how they are doing, they feel obliged to ask you how you’re doing and you can easily spin it toward your books. 

For example: 

“I’m doing alright. How are you doing?” asks the random stranger walking by your table. 

“Me? I’m doing wonderful. I just accomplished my dream come true and became a published author,” you answer with pride and gusto! 

Now the random stranger walking by your table is inclined to ask you about your book or figuratively applaud your accomplishment. 

The point that I’m trying to make is that you need to engage people to succeed at making sales. I have seen authors sitting at their booths and playing on their iPads and never engaging a single person. Those same authors, hours later, were complaining because they didn’t sell a single book, but sitting directly next to them was an author with a mediocre book cover and a plot that didn’t sound overly exciting and he sold out of his books. The difference was that while the first author was playing Angry Chimpanzees on his iPad, the second author was having conversations with anyone who would give him the time of day. 

If you engage your audience, they will give you their time, and time really is money. 

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