The Worst Strategy Ever Devised for Selling Your Services

The Worst Strategy Ever Devised for Selling Your Services
By Bob Bly

The other day I got an e-mail from JT, a professional proofreader, who expressed her grave concern that she had found more than one typo among the dozens of websites I own.
“Can I be direct without being offensive?” asked JT. “Let me start by saying that my only reason for writing this e-mail is that I want to work with you, because I think we could both benefit from collaboration.”

JT continued: “You need a new proofreader – and if you do your own proofreading, you need to fire yourself from that job!”
Did I hire JT as my new proofreader?

No. Because I did, in fact, find her e-mail to be both offensive and self-serving. Yet many freelancers and independent contractors who render creative, professional, and technical services take a similar approach to self-marketing. And it almost never works.
The basis of this horribly inappropriate and ineffective method is: Approach complete strangers… point out a fault with something they are doing… and then offer your services to help them fix the defect.

On the surface, it seems sensible. You are doing someone a favor by helping them correct a defect that could be hurting their business, right? So you’d think they’d be grateful and reciprocate by hiring you to fix the problem you alerted them to. After all, you have already demonstrated your expertise, skill, and value by detecting the problem for them without charge.
But here’s the problem: Most folks, including me, don’t like unsolicited advice.
One of the inviolate rules of my life, both business and personal, is: Never give unsolicited advice.

Advice is valued only if three conditions exist: (1) The advice is sought after (i.e., the recipient asked for it), (2) it is not negative or insulting, and (3) it is constructive and specific.
JT’s e-mail to me violated the first and second of these conditions.
First, I didn’t ask her to proofread for me. So why should she do it?

Prospects prefer to work with vendors who are successful and in demand… not with those they perceive as desperate and needy. The fact that JT is spending her time proofreading copy for strangers without compensation tells me she probably isn’t very busy.
Second, she insults me – telling me I am a lousy proofreader and I should “fire” myself.
Customers buy from people they like. And we don’t like people who insult us.
Another problem with trying to win business by giving unsolicited critiques or advice to strangers is that you risk looking ignorant. That’s because you lack the background on their situation to know whether your suggestions are valid and warranted.

In JT’s case, she assumed I had a typo on a landing page because I’m a bad proofreader. She’s wrong. The real reason you can find typos on some of my sites is that I have literally hundreds of pages posted on the Web. And with my team already overloaded, we simply can’t always keep up with our proofreading and other tasks that are not critical to sales.

A better approach for JT would have been to point out the typo, and then say, “Are your proofreaders overloaded? Hire me to take on the backlog and get those pesky typos off your sites forever.” That would have been more appealing to me than assuming we stink at proofreading, which we don’t.

Finally, JT violates the Silver Rule of Marketing, first articulated to me by marketing consultant Pete Silver.
He told me: “It is always better to get them to come to you, rather than you go to them.”
By violating this rule and soliciting my business, JT placed herself in a weak position.
It may be that I don’t care about typos. (Not true, but there are people who don’t, believe it or not.) If that were the case, JT would be pursuing an unqualified prospect.
Even if I had been interested in her offer, she would have to work hard to convince me that she is the proofreader I should hire. I’ve never heard of her, have no idea who she is, and therefore certainly do not perceive her as an expert or top pro in editing and proofreading.
On the other hand, if you get prospects to come to you because of your reputation as a recognized expert or top pro in your field, you don’t have to do a lot of convincing or selling, because those prospects are already predisposed to hire you.

I would advise JT to stop wasting her time criticizing the websites of marketers who don’t want those critiques, and may even resent them. Instead, she should take steps to position herself as an expert – maybe by writing a column on proper English for a respected business magazine, creating a course on copyediting, or speaking at conferences.Had she done that, I might have come running to her for help, instead of running away.

if…. Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream–and not make dreams your master,
If you can think–and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And–which is more–you’ll be a Man, my son!–

Rudyard Kipling

Be the customer you want to have

I have always been a firm believer in the notion you should always sell on value and never on price. I was meeting with a prospect today who was in search of marketing help for his 18 month old business. He was saying all of the right things telling me his business was doing well but he wanted to be doing better.

One of the strategies for improving the business was to upgrade the quality of client he went after. He told me how he wanted to service the same number of clients per month but greatly increase his revenue per client thus making his a much more profitable business using the same number of hours in a week.I was all ears and eager to speak further with him as on the surface he was an ideal client with a good mind for business. Well it appeared that way until he dropped the bombshell. Even though he wanted top quality customers who understood value and did not shop on price; he wanted to only shop on price for the services he needed to improve his business. Put another way he wanted to buy from the lowest bidder. I politely thanked him for his time and explained I was probably not the best fit for him.

I am sharing this example with you as I have seen this all too common mistake so many times in business. I think Emerson put it best when he said “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say”. One of the most important characteristics successful business people must have is that of sincerity and integrity. I would like to pose this question to you, how can you look a customer in the eye and tell him you honestly believe the best business decision is to buy on value and not price if you do not prove it with your own actions?

There are certain unbreakable laws in the Universe such as the Law of Attraction which states what you put out is what you get back. If you wish to have a large base of customers who are value driven and are willing to pay the price for good results you must first be that person yourself. Once you become the person you want to attract the customers you seek will seek you out and your calendar will be forever full.There are no short cuts to success; the Law of Attraction is always working either for you or against you. Play your cards right, act in harmony with your beliefs and good things will happen, this you can take to the bank. Remember, the universe sees all and everyone gets what they have earned.


How to beat Bobby Fischer

I have a very simple question for you; how do you beat the great chess Grandmaster Bobby Fischer? The simple answer of course is to play him at anything other than chess. When you think about it it would seem to be common sense right? In a simplistic way it is common sense; however, people seem to move away from this seemly obvious piece of advice on a daily basis.

The basic lesson here is to work your strengths and avoid the strengths of your competitors. It comes down to defining your own niche and staying focused on that. General Electric (GE) became the largest and most successful company in the world in the 1990s by following this rule under the leadership of the legendary Jack Welch. The rule was simple, be either number 1 or 2 in the field or get out of that field.

There is no reason to suffer along doing something you hate or are no good at when there are so many more productive and profitable things you could be doing. This does require you to ask yourself some difficult questions on occasion. The ability to be honest with yourself is a skill which will take you far beyond where you find yourself today.

Are you playing to your strengths? What is keeping you from doing it? Do you have a clear idea of what your strengths are? Are you focused on being productive or are you procrastinating with busy work? A little bit of focus in your life is all you really need to beat Bobby Fischer, are you ready to go for it? Need some help with this? Well then perhaps we need to talk…… I am here to help anyone who is willing…. help is always available for those who ask for it.



The law of abundance

One of the first lessons to becoming wealthy and successful is to understand the principles of the Law of Abundance. The Law of Abundance states that there is plenty of everything to go around all you need to do is be ready to accept your share. This share can be of anything you can conceive of in your mind whether it is money, friends, material goods, energy, health and even happiness.The secret to the Law of Abundance is that to be able to you receive you must be ready. This is where most people run into trouble with the law.

A simple way to think about this is to imagine a closet full of clothes. Suppose you would like a wardrobe full of designer clothing made by the world’s best fashion designers of Paris, London and New York but your closest is crammed full of clothes you bought at Wal-Mart. Until you empty out your closet of the old clutter there will be no room for you to add the designer clothes you want to have.This emptying of the closet does not just apply to clothing; it applies to every aspect of your life. You must get rid of all of you baggage both physical and emotional to allow into your life the things and the people you want to have.Another example of this would be relationships. Supposed you are in an abusive relationship with a partner who does not respect you. Before you can begin a new healthy relationship with someone new you must first end the old unhealthy one. Ask yourself, what baggage is holding me back from achieving what I want in life? What do I need to eliminate from my life to begin reaping the rewards of the Law of Abundance?

To really understand this principle I often talk about the internal thermostat each one of us has when it comes to all aspects of our own lives. A thermostat is a very simple device used to maintain consistency. I am sure you are familiar with the one in your home. You set it to the temperature you would like you home to maintain. For example if you would like your home to maintain a moderate temperature of 70 degrees your thermostat will accomplish that for you. As the room cools down it will turn on the heater and heat the room back up to the 70 degrees you want it to be. Conversely, as the temperature of the room rises the thermostat will kick the air conditioning to cool things back down to your ideal temperature once more.

As I mentioned each one of us has one of these thermostats in our own mind that controls each aspect of our lives such as money, happiness and health. Human nature is for us to seek our comfort zone, when we reach it we all get nice and cozy. When it comes to money each one of us has a different comfort zone. We need enough money for rent, food, car payment and the other items we deem a necessity in life. The list of necessities will be different with everyone but the premise remains the same. We all have a standard of living we are used to and have a desire to maintain. Our built in thermostat is designed to keep us in this comfort zone and allows us to maintain the standard of living we have chosen for ourselves.

Sooner or later in life change will come along that threatens the comfortable bubble we have grown accustom to and our little thermostat jumps into action. Perhaps this change has made money tight or we have lost a job. You will begin working overtime, searching for a new job or taking on a second one to get back to the level of income required for you to be in your comfort zone. I am sure you can think back to several times in your life when this was the case. I can recall times working 70 hour work weeks on 2 jobs just to make ends meet when I was younger. This is our thermostat at working getting us back to where we are comfortable again. There is a minimum standard each of us will not allow ourselves to be below.

The flip side of this is when we have too much money or too much happiness. I know this sounds counter intuitive but it happens far more often than your probably think it does. Have you ever read about someone who has won the lottery only to be broke again in 6 months or a year? Perhaps you have seen people lining up to buy big screen TVs when the tax returns come in?

My good friend Tim runs a pizza delivery restaurant and once a week without fail they receive countless $50 or $100 orders coming from the poorest neighborhoods in the city on the day that welfare cheques are issued.
Each one of these are examples of our thermostats kicking in to get us back to where we are pre-programmed to be. I know it seems obvious that being broke or poor would be an uncomfortable place to be; however, the sad truth is comfort is often found in what we are familiar with.

Can you relate to any of these situations? Have you ever found yourself going on a shopping spree when you got a bonus at work? Do you ever go out for dinner or to the bar after work on payday? Perhaps after a few days on a new diet you find yourself eating an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting? Or maybe you pay for a gym membership each month and yet you cannot remember the last time you actually went to the gym? I am pretty sure at least one of these situations is all to familiar to you or someone you know.

So now the question becomes, what in your life are you trying to change but have so far been unable to do so? Would you like to be making more money? Perhaps you would like to be spending less money? Are you looking to lose weight? Are you wondering why every relationship you enter into seems to end badly? The definition of failure has long been regarded as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

Where you program your internal thermostat to is a very powerful self fulfilling prophecy. To make real meaningful change in your life you have to first consciously become aware of where you have set your thermostat to and then consciously begin to change it. Once you can clear the clutter you allow yourself to move forward toward success. In order to become successful you must first give yourself permission to do so. Remember the golden rule when it comes to the Law of Abundance, nothing is neutral. Everything you do either helps you or hinders you along the way so be clear on what you want and make sure you remove your own roadblocks so when you are offered the gifts in life you are able to accept them.

One of the best things you can do to begin this process is emulate someone who is successful already in an area you would like to be successful in. If you want to be better with your time and your money, then start hanging around those people who are great with their time and have money.

To begin this process you must first understand what your current reality is. What kind of person are you now? How much money do you have? How many friends do you have? How much do you weigh? In order to improve in any area you must first be able to take an unbiased view of yourself and accurately figure out where you are at.

One way to do this is to take a look at the 5 people you associate with most often; your five closest friends. If you were to take the income of each of the 5 of them and add it together and then divide by 5 you would be very close to your own personal income. Take a look at the fitness levels of your 5 friends and I bet the average is pretty close to yours.

The reason for this is we most like to associate with people who share our hobbies, interests and activities. You and your friend will often eat at the same places, exercise similar amounts and go to the same activities or seminars. So let me ask you a question you may find to be uncomfortable. Is your current group of friends the best people for you to be hanging around with based on your goals in life? When you express your desire to change for the better are they going to support you and go along with you for the ride? Are they going to ridicule you and tell you they think you are being foolish?

There is a widely known story of crabs in a bucket which I feel is very relevant in this situation. Put severa
l crabs into a bucket with no lid and leave it for a while; not a single crab will be able to escape. This is because as soon as one crab attempts to pull his way out of the bucket all of the other ones will quickly respond and pull him back in. The crabs would rather wallow together as a group of failures than allow one of their brethren to escape to freedom while they are still in the bucket.

This is also a very sad example of what happens in our society each and every day. It is far easier to pull people down than it is to help them up. The reason for this is it makes people feel bad to see someone who is “just like them” to be successful. As a general rule people are far more likely to criticize you for your failed attempt than to offer you a word of encouragement. The average child hears the word no approximately 10 times more often than he hears the word yes. This is an alarming stat that to means needs to change and needs to change quickly.

So I ask you this question one more time; is your current group of friends the best people for you to be hanging around with based on your goals in life? If you truthfully answered yes to this question you are truly blessed with wonderful friends and you should feel fortunate to have such wonderful people in your life. Take a minute to write a thank you card to each and every one of them thanking them for the support they have given you thus far and tell them how blessed you feel to count each of them as a friend.

Conversely; if the answer was no, congratulations you have made your first achievement in this process. You have identified a goal for yourself; identify some successful people to make friends with.

Let me take a minute here to clarify one thing before we move on. I am not suggestion you stop being friends with your college buddies who make you laugh so hard beer shoots out of your nose, that is not what I am getting at here. I am suggesting it is time to widen your scope and become introduced to new people and new ideas. Moderation is the key here for everything.


I was asked a very intriguing question this afternoon which has caused me to ponder. The most interesting part of it was not how easy it was for me to answer, but how in depth the thought process became. The question was what is more important; to be physically free or mentally free?

To me it really was a no brainer, I think the most important one is for us to be mentally free. I think often times as sad as it is; people who are no longer physically free (such as those in prisons) are only there because they did not have the mental freedom to begin with.

I am a firm believer that we get what we think about most of the time. We as human beings have an incredible power buried deep in our minds, which most of us fail to tap into. However, for those who have learned to harness this power, there really is no physical barrier that can hold you back.

When you set your mind to something completely you will always find a way to get to your goal. Every time I have been mentally determined to achieve something I have done it. To me the only thing required to achieve complete freedom is the determination to have it. Set your mind towards you goals and never look back.



Creativity vs. Conformity

I was reading this study recently and it really made me appreciate something I have long seen to be true from my own experiences.

In one series of I.Q. tests given to children ages 2 – 4 years, 95% of the children were found to be highly creative with curious, questioning minds and an ability for abstract thinking. When the same children were tested again at age 7, only 5% still demonstrated high levels of creativity. In the ensuing years, they had learned to conform. They had learned to color between the lines, to sit in neat little rows, to do and say what the other kids did and said, and to do as they were told.

I noticed early in life that often times success in school had little or nothing to do with intelligence or how well I grasped the material. I noticed success in school (when I say success I mean good grades on our current grading system) had much more to do with how compliant I was in regards to the wishes of the teacher.

I was very fortunate that may parents put a much larger emphasis on results and creativity than following the accepted norms. So many children go through life being told to pay attention in school, get a good job and do the “normal” things. I don’t know about you but having seen the quality of life these “normal” people are living these days it is not a path I would want to follow.

Most of us have years of conditioning to overcome in order to regain the creativity and forward thinking we had as young children. But knowing the change is needed is your first step on the road to success.



Unpaid Consulting- Stop doing it

I was having a very good meeting today with a client and friend from my BNI group. This particular fellow is a sales trainer for the Sandler Sales Institute. I shared with him how valuable I have found one of the lessons he is consistently talking about. This lesson is the topic of unpaid consulting.

I like to think of unpaid consulting as when we are going through the sales process; we do a fine job of education the potential customer on our product or service. Invest our time and energy giving the customer the information they need, only to have them go buy from a competitor with their new found body of knowledge.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in sales and business is that it is perfectly acceptable to tell a client, “that is a great question, and that is exactly the type of information I will provide you with once we have secured this deal”.

In my daily routine I am always peppered with questions about blogs, and I am happy to answer the basic ones. However, when it comes to the questions about strategy and how a customer goes about achieving results, those I do not answer until they have cut a cheque.

Don’t be afraid to stand firm, your knowledge is worth paying for. Once you convince yourself of this you will be spending much more time working with clients, and much less time working with prospects. Trust me when I say, clients are much more lucrative than prospects.

These are my two cents on the day,


Inner Focus

I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about a wonderful course I am taking and the effects it is having on me. I am taking a personal development course called Achieving Excellence through a local organization called Focused on You.

One of the exercises did was doing a complete who am I, I must say it was probably the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. Though it was quite tough it was also the most rewarding thing I have done as well. It caused me to take a long deep look inside of myself and look at every aspect of my life both personally and professionally and identify what is truly important to me and where I want to be moving forward.

It also really showed me just how important to me my values are, in particular how strongly I feel about keeping my personal life and professional life in harmony. I must say that thanks to the wonderful help of Donna Willon I am achieving this wonderfully.

I have seen it written many times over how important it is to have a coach in life and this is me saying I completely agree and echo those sentiments. Even if you think you know where you are going, the smallest tweaks can make a huge difference in your long term results. Take the time to know yourself and who you become will amaze even yourself.



Blogs-Plagiarism is not a bad thing!

One of the areas that make blogs really unique and revolutionary is that plagiarism is actually encouraged. It is not necessary that a company creates all its blog material from scratch. Doing your research and collecting useful data from other sources is highly encouraged.

One point of etiquette is to make sure you reference and link back to your source. If you do this, it is flattering to the original author and a source of pride for many bloggers. This is another change from the tradition business mindset of what’s mine is mine.

A good business person today is one who is seen as a body of knowledge who can help many people. We live in a world where solution selling is King and whoever has the most solutions to offer sits atop the throne. So in the world of blogs, don’t be shy to share what you have learned. Pass along the wisdom of other and you just may get yourself a seat in the palace.



Copyright © 2020 Chuck Brady.