I’ve got something to confess-
I’ve never really warmed to cats. Dogs are great- alway happy for a pat or a cuddle on the couch, when you come home after just a few hours away they act as if they haven’t seen you in a month. Plus you can play all sorts of games with them and teach them a bunch of tricks to perform.
Cats on the other hand?
They come and go as they please. Sometimes they’re happy for you to scratch their belly or cuddle on the couch- but then they up and leave, back to their own world. I’ve seen videos of dogs howling on their owners’ graves, but you could keep a cat 10 years then die, and all the cat would care about is who’s going to provide it with its’ next meal? I really don’t get the “lonely cat lady phenomenon”- surely if you have that yearning for a regular companion round the house who shows you affection, you’d get a dog, right?
But there’s a cat in my neighourhood I’ve grown rather fond of. She’s a little black cat with yellow eyes, named Kasey, and most times when I’m out for a walk and I pass her driveway, out she comes to greet me. She meows, rubs herself against my legs and purrs to such an extent it’s like she’s a battery operated toy. I’ll stop to run my hand along her head and her soft back, and when I set off again she follows after me for several houses. I actually bought a packet of cat pellets, and whenever I set out on a walk I take some in my pocket to give Kasey a treat when she leaps up to her feet to see me. She knows I’m good news and I bring treats- and responds accordingly.
But over 20 years ago, I knew another cat who was very different from Kasey- and it wasn’t until long after I last saw him that I realised he’d taught me a critical lesson about selling…
Kenny was my late Grandmothers’ cat. He was a tortoiseshell with big green eyes, a rescue cat found in a gutter by the RSPCA, and my aunty gave him to my Grandma as a house companion. Nobody knew where Kenny came from- whether he’d had a previous owner, whether he’d been neglected or abused- but he was such a timid creature! We’d rock up to my Grandma’s old house and he’d peer through the mesh of the screen door- then scamper away through the living room, down the hallway and retreat to his hiding place- under my Grandma’s bed in her room at the back of the house. The hallway was dark and it had that musty, decades old smell to it. And in the shadows you could just make out those big green eyes, shining in the darkness with the little mouth bared wide.
Yet this didn’t deter me. Instead, it only made me more determined to bring him out of his shell and to realise that an 11 year old boy wasn’t a threat to him, regardless of his life before he found a new home with my late Grandma. But how could I win his trust?
Then I got the idea-
I scooped up a handful of cat pellets from the bag in the laundry. This particular day, Kenny had retreated under Grandma’s bed. He saw me as I eased into her room.
I laid a pellet on the carpet, just out from beneath the bed. Then another one about 20 centimetres away. I laid out a dotted trail of pellets that led from the bedroom, halfway down the hallway and out of the shadows. And it was enough to lure Kenny out from under the bed. He gobbled up the first pellet. Moved onto the next one. Ate that. Saw the next one and moved onto that. Crouched down, I let out long, slow, silent breaths as I saw him make his way down the hallway, munching each pellet that brought him closer to me, aware of my presence. Eventually he was right there, less than a metre from where I knelt. If he kept going, he would get not just one pellet- but a whole cluster of them.
But to get the jackpot, he had to do one thing-
Those pellets were in the palm of my hand, fingers resting on the linoleum floor of the hallway. To gobble up those tasty treats, he’d have to reach my hand and make physical contact with me- put his faith in this stranger and make the final connection. He saw the pellets right there in front of him…
…And I felt his whiskers nuzzling the palm of my hand as he claimed his reward, his teeth making a tiny crunching sound. I carefully reached out to run my hand along the top of his head- and he let me. Instead of fleeing back to the familiar shadows under Grandma’s bed, he stuck around after the pellets were gone and didn’t have a problem with me patting him.
Unfortunately, next time we came around he seemed to have no memory of our previous exchange. So again I had to coax him out of his hiding place with more pellets. Again he made it to the end. This time, he even lay back on the cool floor of the hallway, let me scatch his belly and playfully nipped at my fingers. But then my 3 year old sister came noisily clomping down the hallway, causing Kenny to leap off down by the ancient wooden radio and hiss loudly.
“Mary- you wrecked it!”
And I’d been going so well…
So what do a couple of cats I’ve known, 20 years apart, have to do with the art of successful selling?
While you have leads like Kasey- happy to give you attention, pay up and get on board with what you’re selling- you’ve also got those leads with the potential to deliver a truckload of money and referrals to your door. But they need to trust you first. They need to know you’re one of the good ones. If you try selling to them straight away, they get cold feet and you’ve missed a golden opportunity with what could’ve been a top-value customer.
Think of it like the girl who’s been hurt before. You know these girls- you like her, she likes you and it should be a beautiful romance between the two of you BUT- she got her heart broken by an ex who treated her badly. It had nothing to do with you, you’re nothing like that guy- but she’s been hurt and she’s wary of the same thing happening to her again.
A lot of your leads are the same. They’ve been misled in the past by smooth talkers and snake-oil sellers who made big promises but didn’t deliver once they’d paid up in good faith. Even though it had nothing to do with you and you know for a fact you’re one of the good ones- it’s a harder task to win them over. Stories like this make my blood boil because these operators don’t just wreck it for the person buying- they wreck it for people like us, further down the line:
I know, it sucks- but that’s the unfortunate reality of selling. If you’ve been the one burnt in the past, then you appreciate how difficult it is to trust the next person who comes along- especially if they’re selling a similar product or service to the one you got stung by.
So, how do you convert those prospects with cold feet? How do you show them you are, in fact, “the real deal” and get them to trust you enough to go all in and show you the money? Here’s how you do it:
- Social proof. Let them see testimonials from happy clients or customers of yours, let them hear raving referrals. This is especially effective if the people singing your praises are similar to them in regards to age, demographic, industry etc. Few things sell you better to somebody than when other people say great things about you!
- Share your nuggets of wisdom. Let them discover what your business is about and who you are- give them the full tour. If they trust you, then they trust your business as well. You can achieve this by regularly sharing blog articles (like this one) or videos in related industry groups on social media pages. Impress them with your knowledge and your expertise- and let them see that you’re “the real deal”.
- Invite them to join your database. What you achieve with blog articles or videos in the above point, you can also achieve with a regular e-mail. Provide links to your latest articles, videos, presentations and your site.
- Erase their doubts head-on. Sometimes you can just point out that you’ve heard the horror stories from other people who’ve got their fingers burnt. Explain the worst case scenarios and then tell them why you’re different. This is a fantastic way of demolishing that trust obstacle, because they feel like you truly understand them. This makes it MUCH more likely that any resistence vanishes- and they’ll reward you for bothering to understand.
I understand that to create regular content that
a) sets you apart
b) wins their trust and,
c) generates new leads
is a time-consuming affair. That never changes, even for somebody like me (and I do this for a living!) So if you want to convert your “cold” leads into happily paying customers, then let’s talk- and get your content needs taken care of- while you simply keep doing what it is that makes you “the real deal”: Contact Me