The Hard Sell Doesn’t Work Anymore

Two distinct approaches, only one works consistently.

Nobody cares about your accolades or your other clients. They can read about that stuff on your fancy website. If they’re in your office or on the phone chances are they want to know one thing: WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR ME?

Don’t inundate a potential client with a 10 minute spiel about yourself and your 27 different services. Hear them out, really listen, determine together what they need and then dig into your arsenal and deliver just that. It works. I promise.


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  • So true….you gain 1 client at the expense of losing many others. Makes you in constant need of more clients, leading you to act even more aggressive and ultimately become more ineffective.
    .-= Alexander Rinehart, DC, MSACN´s last blog ..6 Health Tips for Staying Awake and Alert at the Office =-.


    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    I think you inadvertently brought up a great point Alexander, time. I’ve watched salespeople keep pushing that hard sell over and over. Eventually it might work (at least on some level), but after what? 12 Meetings at an hour each.

    What if you had a 30 minute meeting and demonstrated your value, the value of your projects and asked them to think about you later. Follow up with a handwritten letter letting them know you appreciated their time (or telling them Happy Birthday or whatever).

    Chances are when they need you they’ll come back, and in the meantime you have an extra 11 hours to work on other important projects.

    And here’s something I failed to mention. If you execute well or if you have a remarkable product, they’ll find you anyway, AND they’ll tell their friends. Thanks for the comment!


  • As long as you don’t wear the hat, I’d buy from the second one 🙂

    Good stuff man – listen before engaging, a client doesn’t want to hear about you, they want to hear what you can do for them.


    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    HEY, what’s wrong with my cap? I met Peter Kim at SxSW and he said he didn’t recognize me because I wasn’t wearing a ball cap. It’s my differentiating factor. Ha.

    And I think you’ve reiterated my primary message. What can you do for them. — That’s all the care about. Thanks for the comment Matt.


  • Ryan, you and Matt just gave me an idea. What if you wear a different cap in every video blog? You could wear ball caps front and back, stocking cap of course, newsboy cap, Kangol visor. Could be a lot of fun (LOL).

    The point you make in this post is a great one — the way we communicate these days has changed and the definition of the word “sell” has changed along with it.

    Your second approach is obviously the better one. But it’s also important to note that to some extent you’re “selling” everyday by engaging with PR pros, customers, peers, etc online and F2F. Company brands, client lists and capabilities don’t sell these days. People sell. Relationships sell.

    Nice work. I’ll be back often.



    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    I would probably run out of caps pretty quickly. I’m a bit of a minimalist so most old caps are at my parent’s house and I just have 4-5 on hand that are versatile and go well with certain outfits. Ha. But I like the recommendation, and it would be fun/interesting.

    You bring up an excellent point re: selling everyday. The way you communicate on Twitter, the projects and campaigns you do with other clients, etc. Everyone can witness how you operate, particularly online, and so it’s important to carry yourself in a way that represents how you do business.

    Thanks for stopping by Justin. I look forward to your contributions here.


  • Haven’t commented in a while but again, this one hit close to home.

    Your points ring true ESPECIALLY if you are working with small businesses. They don’t care about who you worked with in the past, how many clients you’ve had or how many awards your services have won. They don’t have time for that. They have a business to run.

    It is way more convincing and way more important to understand the specific problems their business is facing (or opportunities they are missing) and how you can help them improve. Every small business is unique, so each sales pitch should be carefully tailored to fit that need.
    .-= Patrick Ambron´s last blog ..What I’ve learned =-.


  • Nice video Ryan (sorry I got to it a bit late). Definitely in the same boat for just having a solo company right now. I talk to anyone about some little service and immediately they want to sell me something that would take me 3 years to pay off.

    If you aren’t hearing me out, then obviously you don’t want my business.

    And good selling tips for any type of business.
    .-= Ryan Knapp´s last blog ..Are Soccer Players True Fans? =-.


  • I like to market the same way AA does for alcoholics….
    Attraction -not- promotion.

    Slowly guiding them in with top-notch information is by far the best way to build trust.