I'm going to let you in on a little secret. It's something I've learned over time that I know I have to embrace even more now. It's something that we should all embrace and do more of.
Have you ever had trouble selling a thing you made, perhaps because you're just afraid of failing, or you don't want to feel icky about it, or you don't want to let people down or sell out? Perhaps you're afraid of selling just because you don't even know how to? Beyond those questions, there's a chicken-and-egg dilemma that many creators face: how do you sell something with confidence if people haven't actually tried it yet and found great results?
Well, what I'm about to share with you in today's episode will help you solve these problems. I'm going to tell you how to find the people who can help you test and sell your next product or service, who can help tell the story of the transformation they experienced as a result of what you've created for them.
SPI 522: These People Sell WAY Better than Us
Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it's all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he prefers using a loud mechanical keyboard: Pat Flynn.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret, and this is something that I learned over time that I know I even have to embrace even more now, and it's something that we should all embrace and do more of. If you've ever had trouble selling, and perhaps you've had trouble because you're just afraid of failing, perhaps you've had trouble selling because you don't want to feel icky about it, you don't want to let people down or sell out, as we sometimes say. Perhaps you're afraid of selling because just you don't even know how. Well, what I'm about to share with you will solve all of those problems.
This is something that became very apparent in 2017, when I had started creating my own online courses for the first time. For a while, I actually got around the selling factor, the act of selling, by just talking about the products that I used, showing people a process for free, talking about those products, whether it's a hosting company, an email service provider, a keyword research tool, whatever the process I was teaching.
Every single tool that I could use, I would show, and every time I showed it, I would share an affiliate link, and that's how I generated several million dollars in affiliate earnings, by basically just sharing a process for free, which is providing a lot of value, and then recommending products on top of that. And people who saw the process, again, because it was free, they didn't have to pay to get access to that process, and because they got every step along the way, and I know one of my superpowers is taking things that are maybe a little bit complicated or sometimes overwhelming, and making them very simple to understand, step-by-step, and doing that very well, and not in a way that makes you feel dumb either, we made a lot of money doing affiliate marketing, and we still do.
However, in 2017, this was a big mindset shift, because now I had my own product to sell, and I had sold my own product on my architecture stuff. There I was selling an architectural exam guide, and that was very clear to me, you pay for this guide, you study, and you pass the exam, and now you don't have to waste another $500 taking the test again, and you can potentially get a raise and a promotion, which several people did. And it was interesting because the more and more I heard that feedback coming in, the more and more excited I got about selling it.
But that's not the secret. That is very important, though, to recognize that your product, your program, your whatever it is you're offering, is of value. When you realize that and you believe that, and you can have that belief coming in from results that you've been getting from people, then things start to skyrocket from there just on that front, because you're more confident when you promote it, when you sell it, when you write emails about it, when you talk about it with other people, when you share about it on a podcast, on a webinar. You're just more confident, that comes through, and people feed on that confidence and they get into your product, and hopefully, obviously, it should deliver value.
Now there is, of course, a chicken-and-egg thing there, how do you get people to get results if you haven't sold your thing yet? Well, that's where I talk about the idea of if you have a course, for example, well, run a couple people through it. Take them through a very manual process, it's maybe not even on a Teachable or a platform where it's videos and lessons and worksheets yet, it's just literally a eight-week coaching program or whatever. You still have to define it, you still have to sell it, but you let people know, "I haven't done this before, but I want to do it for you first, and I'm going to take good care of you," and that's how you get those first results, that's how you get those first testimonials.
That's really important to do for you and your own confidence, but where I'm getting at is, well, what about the confidence of those who are hearing your pitch? You could be as confident as anybody can be, yet people are still not going to take the offer, they're not going to convert, for several different reasons. They might not convert because they just don't know if this is real, they've never tried something like it before, they don't know if it's right for them, so the secret is, and here it is, you showcase the success stories of your students. That is your sales pitch, or is a major part of it.
In your email sequences, there better be at least one or two dedicated emails about name a person in your audience and their story, through your program or through you or through your coaching. It could be the same people that went through your little beta program that I just talked about, but when you tell their story, you showcase the before, and juxtaposition that with the after.
Now, in many industries, it's a very clear before/after. In the weight loss industry, fitness, it's like, "Hey, here I was before, and look at me now." Or "Here is this person who I coached and trained, and here's what they looked like and here's how they felt, and here's how they are now." It's very clear, and that's why whenever you see a fitness program on TV, you see the before and after photos. But in many niches, it can be very difficult to have that idea of, "Well, what was it like before and what was it like after?" And when you can better define what that before and after is and that becomes the transformation that people can look forward to, everything becomes much easier.
So how do you do that? You showcase the before and after transformation of people who you've helped transform, the hero's journey, because people will resonate with their story more than you can tell them this program's going to help them. Let me say that one more time. People will resonate more, they're going to listen more intently, they're going to believe and feel this is more relatable, they're going to see a version of themselves in a success story, and convert more likely, than if you were to just pitch them and sell them yourself. Your students are much better salespeople than you are.
It's our job, as the owners of these products, to collect that story, to bring that story out, to position that story in a way that when people hear it, they're going to hear themselves in it, and that's why I'm not so sold on, "You got to collect testimonials," right? I mean, testimonials are important, and these stories are in fact a higher-level version of testimonials, testimonials on steroids, but testimonials, just how they are traditionally as a, "Oh yeah, this program is great, I found a lot of success with it. Thank you. I would highly recommend it to anybody. —Jill." "This program was awesome. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I got so much more out of it than I expected. It was awesome. —Bob from Kentucky."
And how is that going to sell? They're there, and nobody reads them. Nobody reads... I truly believe people don't read them, they just kind of skim through them if they do, but they're not reading them, they're not considering Bob, and what was Bob like, where's Bob from, what were his reasons for getting in this, and when he got in it, was it hard for him, was it easy? What was it like? These are all the questions that people are wondering about. This is where we could use any of our platforms, not just a podcast, maybe you don't have a podcast. Not just a YouTube channel, maybe you don't have a YouTube channel, or your blog, maybe you don't have a blog.
But you have a Twitter account, you have an Instagram. You have Instagram Stories, maybe you have a TikTok. Be the orator of your students' stories. Try to get on a call with them and record it. If you've helped them, they're going to be very, very welcoming to that. They're going to have lived that transformation, nobody can tell it better than they can, and then you can just ask the right questions. So, what are some questions that you might be able to ask if you get on a conversation with somebody? And you want to pull out a transcript from that, you want to collect clips from that that you can put on a sales page, and on social media, to help people realize that hey, you're actually helping people.
Because what happens is people see these success stories, they see other heroes, and they're like, "Oh, I want to be like that, I could do that, I was like them. How did they get the help?" Well, it was your program, it was you. So what questions can you ask when you bring a person who's gone through your stuff on a Zoom call, you hit "Record," what do you say? First of all, thank them for taking action, because that's really amazing, and ask them how they feel, because you want them to remember all that they've achieved, all that they've transformed into.
That's where you start, and that's not even the part that you're going to use, that's just to set the tone for, "Wow, look at where you are now," because then that will juxtaposition in their head where they were, and it'll make it stronger when you start asking questions like, "Hey, before you got on this program, tell me a little bit about your situation. What were the biggest challenges, what were the biggest struggles, and why were you really trying to solve this problem?" And you just sit back and listen, right? And have them tell a story.
And then depending on what they say, you can go deeper, you play interviewer at this moment, right? And a good interviewer doesn't just hear the answer and go, "Okay, question number two." A good interviewer will go, "Wow. Can you go deeper into that?" Or "What would that have meant to you?" Or "Why?" That's my favorite question, "Why?" It sounds kind of crazy to think that a one-word question can be so powerful, but it is. You think about kids, right, kids ask "Why?" to their parents all the time. "Why? Why? Why?" You know that meme? "Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?" It's like a pastor who says that in a meme, and it's just... It pops up on social media every once in a while.
Anyway, why do kids ask "Why?" all the time? Because they're curious, because they want to know. Their brains are developing, and it's their tool for understanding, and yet we as parents sometimes get really annoyed by that. But I promise you, your interviewer, unless you say it 10 times in a row, is not going to get upset if you ask, "Why? Why did you do that? Why was it a struggle for you? What did you..." Here's another great question, "What did you do to attempt to solve this problem before that didn't work for you? What made you believe that this solution was right for you? What were your expectations getting into this, and what actually happened?” How would you talk about this program to somebody who asks you, ‘Well, what is this even about and what's it going to do for you?’ Describe how thankful you are that you are now on the other side of this, and how would you tell a person who's scared to take that leap to go and do it?"
And you could have your own versions of questions like that, but those are really powerful questions that you can ask so that you pull out these stories, you uncover the big realizations, another great one... Think about the hero's journey, right? If you've seen or heard of the hero's journey before, somebody starts in an ordinary world, this is a framework that is used in books, in storytelling, in movies, everywhere. A person starts in their ordinary world, and they're met with a challenge. When they're met with this challenge, they go on a journey, and on this journey, they're in an unknown land that's like a learning a new language, or some dungeon they're in, or whatever it might be for a person, it might be this world of podcasting, if you're taking my podcasting course.
This is a brand-new world, you're learning the language, you're learning all about it, it's challenging, and there's a lot of analogous dragons that you have to slay in order to get through to rescue the person on the other end, or yourself, from all the dangers. Podcasting isn't that dangerous, although I have really hurt myself with my podcasting mic once. I went to bend down to check out the cord underneath my desk, and I actually bumped my head on one of the parts of my mic. My mic is on or within what's called a shock mount, and a shock mount has rubber bands that suspend the mic in the air so that the rubber bands absorb any sort of vibrations from the desk. Anyway, they're very pointy, that's all I'm going to say, so literal things stabbing you, even in podcasting.
But to move on, this person then finds a guide, and through that guide, they get understanding, they get inspiration, they get motivated, they get the information they need to go and then slay the dragon, come out on the other side, and be back to where they were, but changed and different, and enlightened and better. And when people hear that story, they go through all those moments, and they can see themselves in that story, in that same person, everybody wants that guide, everybody wants the same guide. And guess what? You're the guide.
This is very, very on-brand with StoryBrand, Donald Miller. We've interviewed Donald Miller before. You got to listen; that interview's so good. But this episode is coming after Jess Catorc in episode 521, and Jess talked about online courses, and selling them and how to do it genuinely, and this is a further discussion on that, just as a brain-dump from my head to yours based on my own experience. And again, as I said earlier, I got to lean into this a little bit more. I admire people like Stu McLaren who can just recall names, and I've done this in the podcasting course. I mention several names several times, and I go deeper into those students, because I...
Just podcasting is my thing, that's my world, and that's kind of what I'm engulfed in and I'm immersed in, so my own students, I feel like in that course in particular, I remember those stories more because I'm always with other podcasters and telling them, "I need to do this with all of my other courses," because we have so many success stories that we haven't even uncovered yet, we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg and there's so much more deeper below the surface level that we can unpack that could help others realize that when we pitch these things, when we pitch Email Marketing Magic, when we pitch A to Z Webinars, when we pitch Heroic Online Courses, that "Wow, these are people just like me, and they have so many of the same challenges, and yet look at where they are now. I can do it too, I need to go to the same place they did," right? Which is us, or my courses.
That's the big idea, but I need to do this more, I need to do this more, and to a point where I can get Stu McLaren-like and have literal spreadsheets of people's names, what their biggest challenges were in the next column, what their business is of course, and all their information so we can reach out to them so we can actually do these interviews and collect them. These things could live on podcasts. I've had interviews on the show before with previous students and SPI Pro members, and it's interesting, because even without trying, even without trying, I get emails from people after, if they're a student of a course, going, "How do I get into that course?"
Of course, we mention it on the show notes page and whatnot, but goes to show you that those people who have gone through your course, who've gone through your program, do a much better job of selling than you, and it keeps it away from the sleazy internet marketing ethos that I think a lot of us feel like we have to do, because we see it everywhere, we're on the receiving end of it, and we feel like that when we start to sell, we have to give in to that. No, you can do this in a genuine way, and I want to leave you with this one final reminder, huge reminder when it comes to selling, that you can sell and serve at the same time.
You can sell and serve at the same time. And if my editor's listening to this right now, I want you to help me out, because I want on the show notes page for this episode, episode 522, I want to make sure we include a link to a recent email that I sent. I actually made this email public, because I wanted to show people how it was structured, and it's structured in a way that both serves and sells at the same time, and it converted very well.
[Editor’s note: I’m listening, Pat. Here’s the link to that email: https://spi.ck.page/posts/your-top-email-struggles-my-responses]
It actually includes the top five reasons why people are afraid of email marketing, and why they just don't do it, the biggest questions that people have about it, the biggest fears that they have with email marketing. I collected that, in fact, in an email. I condensed them and I collated them into five different reasons, and I put them in an email, and I sold within that email. People replied and said, "Pat, I'm going to print this out," that's how valuable that email was, people wouldn't print it out if it wasn't valuable, even though it was a sales pitch.
So we're going to put that link, because it's public. It's just on ConvertKit; it's a public email. You can make your emails public and then share them, like I'm doing right now, which is really neat. I like that feature, and that way, you can read it. And you can read it knowing that this was an email that was meant to do two things: number one, to serve, and number two, to sell. We'll put that on the show notes page.
This is episode 522. I hope you enjoy this episode, and I want you to lean into your people too, and even if you're just starting out, just help one person get one result, and then have that one person become the one story you start with. There it is.
Thank you so much, everybody. I look forward to serving you in next week's episode. We got a lot of great stuff coming your way. Don't miss out, so hit "Subscribe." I'll see you in the next one. Cheers, peace out, and as always, Team Flynn for the win.
Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I'm your host, Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess, our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We'll catch you in the next session.