How To Land The Sale

People want to buy but they don’t want to be sold.

Words to live by for a sales person. You want to establish a customer base but that takes time. You have to nurture customer relationships because that’s how you become successful long-term. You don’t want to sell one product to one customer. You want to sell lots of products to a return customer for many years to come.

But how do you do that? How many times are you supposed to keep banging your head against the wall, trying to make contact with influencers? Surely a few unreturned voicemails means they aren’t interested, right?

Wrong!

There is nothing personal about a few cold calls and voicemails. Make yourself stand out if you want to command attention. That takes a bit of creativity and a lot of perseverance.

So say I’ve got a handbag business. I want to sell buyers on the quality and marketability of my products so they want to feature the collection in their stores.

These people get sold all the time, so how do I set myself apart as a newbie designer with no brand recognition or footprint to speak of?

The first step is establishing contact. Pretty difficult to do as buyers are usually MIA. But I don’t get discouraged. I leave a message, introducing myself and my goal. I say I’ll follow-up with an email. Surprise, surprise, after a week, no return call.

Time to execute phase 2. I call again, only this time I don’t leave a voicemail. I stalk my prey over the course of a couple of weeks. But alas, the buyer is still MIA. So I finally leave a message letting the buyer know I’ll be following up with a package including some marketing and press materials and a sample handbag. I need to create a hook with this package to give the buyer a reason to call me back. But beware, this whole process can get rather expensive quickly so make sure you pick your targets wisely. Choose the ones where you might have a shot if you’re sending product as a sample. Make the packages personal – include handwritten notes, unique trinkets, anything to set you and your company apart from the competition.

About a week afterward, reach out again, via phone and email, and so on until you’ve exhausted your efforts or you get a return message.

This process won’t work all the time. Nothing is ever guaranteed But if you plan out your roadmap effectively, you have a real chance to make inroads with the people who can put your product in market and help you create demand that will hopefully translate into sales. And then maybe you can land in InStyle magazine too! =)

What’s In It For Me?

Let’s face it, contemporary romance novels are ubiquitous.  So how can you differentiate yours from the rest?  This is a big part of the value prop for an author but you don’t always get an opportunity to deliver a full Power Point presentation complete with charts and Smart Art explaining why your novel commands attention.  All the elements of value prop are essential in crafting your message but here’s the deal…you need an elevator speech to convince people on the spot that you’re book is worthy of their time and money.

I’m always challenged by the 30-second spiel.  By nature, I’m very long-winded so trying to whittle down my delivery into one or two sentences throws me into a major tailspin.  Luckily, I’ve learned to tailor my writing style with the help of a very patient editor.  But summing up my fabulous manuscript into so few words?  Impossible!

The problem is, if you can’t be proactive and distinguish yourself quickly, people will automatically assume you’ve written the next Fifty Shades.  At least, that’s the assumption I’m faced with most often.

Here’s how the dialogue usually goes:

“Kristen, you wrote a book, how fantastic!  What’s it about?”

“It’s a contemporary romance novel.”

(The knowing smile and head nod)  “Oh, so it’s another Fifty Shades?”

“Haha, no.  Actually mine is much hotter.  In fact, it’s so intense that steam will rise from the screen of your e-reader and peel the paint off your walls.”

Well, there’s a very convincing value prop!  But I’ve found that it’s not exactly proper as a description for my eighty year-old aunt or my son’s preschool teacher.  So I made some changes.  I’m still working on variations but this is the latest:

“It’s an emotional tale about an unlikely romance that develops between two people and is ultimately threatened by the heroine’s risqué past.”

I typically leave out any sexual references unless specifically asked.  Not everyone would appreciate that granular a description.

The key is to generate enough interest with your elevator pitch so that it drives the potential reader directly to the Kindle e-bookstore to buy your novel.  Not an easy feat, but that’s why the value prop is so important.  Once you’ve identified all the fabulous elements of your book, you can shrink them into a meaningful sound byte, kind of like creating a tiny URL.

 

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