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Why should a salesperson think about publishing an eBook?

Yesterday, I had the privilege of being a guest on the BlogTalk Radio show of my friend, the elite sales coach and trainer, Connie Kadansky. Connie specializes in teaching sales people to “get their ask in gear” and helping them overcome Sales Call Reluctance®. It’s something almost all of us who are in sales (yes you, my dear SBMs*, are in sales!) face at one time or another: the fear of prospecting and/or self-promoting.

Connie interview

The topic of our conversation yesterday was “Build Your Credibility with Prospects by Publishing an eBook!” As many good talk show hosts do, Connie offered me the list of questions she would ask in advance so that I had time to prep my responses. Her questions and my prepared answers are below. However, you should still listen to the interview: (a) to see how closely we stuck to (or varied from) the script, and (b) because she threw in a couple of great examples that were unplanned.

I think that’s the key to a great talk show – preparation that allows for flexibility and impromptu questions and responses. It’s also why when you’re preparing to do live radio or TV, you’ve got to be ready to answer any questions the interviewer might throw your way. I had a client one time who wanted to know how to be “absolutely sure” she would know in advance all of the questions the interview would ask. She was extremely worried that she might receive a question to which she did not have a prepared answer, and she was quite unhappy when I told her there would never be such a guarantee. You always have to be prepared for anything because a cagey interviewer may hit you with something utterly unexpected. (I understand Phoenix’s own Pat McMahon has a reputation for this type of surprise questioning.) Generally, though, the interviewer wants the show to go well, which is much more likely if the interviewee has an idea of what’s coming.

Here are Connie’s pre-planned questions and my planned responses:

1. Laura, the first thing that comes to mind when salespeople think about writing anything is anxiety around not being a good enough writer.  How can you ease the anxiety so people will open up to the opportunity to write an eBook that could put them on the “map” so to speak?

Writing is the technical skill of putting words together so that they make sense and properly convey our ideas. But we do that – put words together and convey ideas – every day when we talk to people. So if you can talk, you can probably put a book together fairly easily. It’s just a matter of getting someone to help you organize the words once they’re on paper. I think that putting the book together is the easy part. I – and lots of others out there – can help you with that. But what I cannot do is give you a meaningful message if you don’t already have one.

2. How important is the “why” behind what they are wanting to accomplish?

Many people will tell you that they’re in business to make money. But money, while important, is ultimately an empty motivator. Being emotionally connected to the “why” gets you energized – you can’t wait to go out and talk to people about what you’re selling, and they will see your genuine enthusiasm and respond. Even if they don’t buy from you, they’re more likely to recommend you to someone else who might need your product or service.

3. You indicate that salespeople must know what their message is. . . how do you help salespeople get clarity on that message?  They just want more customers and to sell more of their product or service.  How do you help them dig deep into understanding what their market wants?

The first thing I do is ask questions. Then I listen to the answers. There are three important ones to focus on first: (1) Who is your audience? (2) What is the ONE thing you want them to know – the thing they’d go home and tell their spouse about, or post on social media? (3) Why are YOU the person to share this message?

4. You indicate that people need to know who their audience is – audience meaning who is going to read their material – what are the different components on knowing who the audience is?

Most authors’ goals are to sell books – to lots of people. Makes sense, right? But the best way to hone in on your audience is to know the ONE person you’re trying to reach with your message. Studying their demographics and psychographics. Demographics are the measureable things like age, education, and marital/parenting status. Psychographics, on the other hand, are the things that make your reader unique, such as their personality traits, values, and attitudes. I encourage my authors to know that they are writing to Jane Kowalski – a 32-year-old teacher, no kids, master’s degree, who lives in a Chicago suburb, attends church occasionally, works at an animal shelter on the weekends, and aspires to climb Mt. Everest.

5. This eBook can be a PR tool – it connects them with the “outside world” so to speak – a credibility tool. How important is it that they be specific on what they want to accomplish going back to “they just want more customers?”

It’s essential. The thing is, we all want more customers. We wouldn’t be in sales – or in business, for that matter – if we didn’t. But we need to get underneath the thing we’re selling to the reasons we’re selling it. What will it do for the customer? How will their life benefit from it? How will their life change? What will they be able to do after buying your product or service that they couldn’t do before? Your eBook will answer those questions – or it will explain why you are the best person to provide them those answers. Hopefully both.

6. How does someone share value without “giving away the store?”  Recently, I heard a marketing coach telling people to stop blogging, because they are solving all the customers problems and people don’t need to buy from them.  What are you thoughts on this comment?

I hear this all the time and I couldn’t disagree more. This is a perspective that comes from lack. “If I share what I know, you won’t hire me because I just gave it to you for free,” rather than “If I share what I know, it demonstrates my expertise so you will know I’m good enough to hire.” Not to mention that a typical blog post can only scratch the surface. If all you know is what you can put into a 500-word blog post, you’re not very good at what you do, are you? Your eBook should demonstrate the problem and offer the answer in broad strokes. The customer will still need to hire you (or buy your product) for implementation of the solution.

7. If someone were to call you today with a vague idea of an eBook, what process would you put them through and how long would it take?

I would arrange a phone interview with them and begin by asking the 3 questions I mentioned above. I would ask them what, besides “Do Business With Me” would they want their prospect to do after reading their book? What information does their reader need to know? In what format do they already have that information? Is it written down somewhere? Could they dictate it? Put it into bullet points? Write it as one long 6-page paragraph? Would a series of recorded interviews be the best approach to getting it down? What call to action would they want to leave with their readers/prospects? Depending on the author, it can be a few weeks or a year. We’ve turned around eBooks – cover design, content, editing, layout – in 3 weeks for the right clients.

8. Do you have an offering for our listeners so that they can connect with you?

Your listeners should check out http://bit.ly/Anatomy_Launch for access to a free special report I’ve written to guide them through the launch of their book. Don’t do what far too many new authors do and wait till you have your book in your hands to begin marketing it! Read this report so you can learn how to start marketing the second you start writing.

Laura

* Savvy Book Marketer
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Organizing around a common purpose: YOUR book!

A couple days ago, I wrote a post that was a really a challenge about taking steps to overcome fearprimarily of book marketing, but really of whatever is holding you back from succeeding as big as your wildest dreams.

In that post, I mentioned that I’ve recently gotten involved in a political campaign as a volunteer organizer. In just 2 days, things have moved into high gear! The goal of our jobs, we were told during training, is to organize ourselves out of them. We want to build teams who will take over the responsibility we are right now shouldering on our own: 300 calls a week, 10 new voters registered per week, 3 one-on-one meetings with volunteers per week. For a 15-hour-a-week volunteer job, those are fairly lofty goals.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing about facing this daunting task is the realization that I have a pretty substantial network of solid connections. Not everyone allies with me politically, and there are sometimes delicate paths to tread in terms of keeping my business and personal interests separate. Mostly, I don’t worry about those who disagree with me. If you won’t do business with me because you don’t like my politics, that’s OK – there are plenty of other people out there who do agree with you.

It didn’t grow overnight – it was a process. I built this network organically – adding one person at a time to my personal circle. Adding one friend at a time to Facebook and one follower at a time on Twitter. Many people automate – and there are benefits to automation, to be sure. However, I feel the benefit of an organic following of people whom I have a connection with – even if it’s only a virtual connection – serves me better than focusing on the giant numbers.

How my network is serving me

In thinking about whom I know … and whom they know … and how I might leverage all those connections into substantial numbers for my work on this campaign, I am stunned by the depth and breadth of my circle.

  • First I reached out to my sister – and her work connections. Her company works directly with a segment of our target constituency and could, perhaps, give us direct access to them. I won’t know if I don’t ask, right?
  • Next, I reached out to personal friends via e-mail. My pitch to them was two-fold: (1) get involved personally; and (2) put me in touch with anyone they know who might be interested/willing to help out.
  • After that, I reached out to more distant friends via social media with a similar request.
  • I have a friend who specializes in teaching people to overcome Sales Call Reluctance® – the fear of prospecting. It donned on me today that phone banks and voter registration drives can only succeed if the people doing them are FEARLESS about their outreach. That’s not the case for many who are doing it for the first time – hell, it’s not even the case for me, every time. But that’s why I’m here – to push my own comfort envelope just a little bit further. I reached out to my friend to perhaps do a training for us on this, her area of specialization.
  • I have a friend who’s work keeps her very active with one of our target constituencies, so I asked her to put me in contact with the proper people to start the ball rolling so that we can reach out to them.
  • I have another friend who’s v very actively involved in another segment of our target group. I will reach out to her for prospective volunteers and perhaps some physical space in which to do our phone calling.
  • I’m cherry-picking my social networks to interconnect with the new profiles I am building for my campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress.

BUT WAIT! This is a marketing blog, not a political blog. So what do any of these things have to do with you?!!??

Well, my darling SBMs*, everything. It has everything to do with you, in that I want you to think about how you can model these ideas, not with politics as your motivator, but with marketing your book or eBook.

How can YOU leverage all the connections you have and then harness their energy to create a fantastic campaign that will help you make big tracks with your book? Whom do you know that you haven’t reached out to for a while?

  • Accept this as a gentle kick in the butt to revitalize connections you may have allowed to wither a bit.
  • Accept this as an invitation to pursue some of the connections you may once have thought had little to do with your business or life.
  • Accept this as the opportunity to celebrate your circle of influence and look for ways to expand it.

In my case, my common purpose is a political campaign for a candidate who generates a lot of enthusiasm.

In your case, YOU and YOUR BOOK are the center of your common purpose. Your desire, your mission, your goal is to bring as many folks together as you possibly can and then watch the magic that springs forth from that connection.

Happy leveraging!

Laura
* Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Authors, if you want to sell books, you must embrace your marketer within

Years ago, I met a gal at a networking group I belonged to who, when asked about her BHAG (big, hairy audacious goal), publicly declared that she intended to be the first Mary Kay distributor to build a million-dollar business. Later in the same meeting, she publicly stated that she fast-forwarded through commercials, had signed up for the Do Not Call List, and pretty much eschewed any attempt by anyone to market to her.

I haven’t seen her since then, but I don’t have to guess whether she ever reached her goal.

Interestingly, many people – authors chief among them – are horrifically averse to the moniker “salesperson.” This in spite of the fact that, as marketing master Adam Urbanski says, “All business owners are in two businesses: the business they’re in and selling and marketing the business they’re in.”

My friend Connie is an international sales trainer who specializes in helping clients overcome Sales Call Reluctance®, which is defined as the emotional hesitation to prospect or self-promote. There are 12 identified forms of Call Reluctance, including one called “Role Rejection.” According to Connie’s website, people with this form of Call Reluctance “are secretly ashamed of any kind of selling. They deflect any association with being a salesperson and tend to believe that society dislikes salespeople, and they themselves get irritated and annoyed when salespeople solicit them.”

If you’re an author who hopes to sell books, it might be a worthwhile exercise to take a personal inventory of your attitude toward salespeople. If you deliberately skip commercials, hate telemarketers with a venom, and reject all attempts to sell or market to you, you may be experiencing Role Rejection – and inadvertently jeopardizing your book sales success.

This is not, however, meant to be an indictment – just an opportunity to reframe your thoughts about sales and marketing. I’ll admit that some marketers are devious, and not all salespeople are scrupulous, but no one is suggesting that you ally with those types of folks. I am suggesting that you consider your sales goals for your book and look for ways to see marketing as a positive – perhaps even fun – enterprise. Trust me, if you view it as a chore you hate, you’ll be a lot less successful at it.

One thing I enjoy is watching and critiquing TV commercials. Some of them are absolutely fantastic; in other cases, I wonder whether the creative departments at certain ad agencies even watched their commercials before airing them. In either event, though, I am honing my marketing skills by noticing what works, what attracts me, and what makes me cringe.

You can do this too, whether it’s with TV ads, radio commercials, banner ads on the Web, or calls from telemarketers. One man Connie recently interviewed for the book she’s writing told her, “Those calls certainly don’t irritate me, because, at the end of the day, I’m a conversationalist. … So if someone wants to call me and open the door to a conversation, I’m willing to have that conversation with them.” What a refreshing way to view a phenomenon most of us see as an irritating intrusion.

We spoke a long time ago about learning to think like a marketer. In order to do that, it might just be time to retire your inner Role Rejecter and instead embrace your marketer within.

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Cut the catastrophizing … even well-known authors have been rejected

If you’ve never visited UrbanDictionary.com, it’s worth a spin to see the online dictionary of slang words and phrases. It continues to grow daily, with more than 6 million definitions as of October 2011. Look up anything – even your name! I’d better warn you, though – some of the definitions and sample sentences can get pretty vulgar.

Fortunately, our names are more favorably defined than some:

Marcie. One of the coolest ways to spell Marcie. Typically, people who spell it this way are very cool and/or hot. Man, Marcie is so hot!

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Laura. A really, really cool person; guys want her and girls want to be her. Has many friends. Everyone likes her – they don’t only pretend to like her. Guy 1: Why can we never get a Laura? Guy 2: They all already have great boyfriends.

And now to the point of this post, today’s SBM* Urban Dictionary word of the day:

catastrophize (v) to hyper-imagine negative outcomes to a situation that have no basis in reality; to blow setbacks or problems out of proportion such that you spiral into an emotional catastrophe; to imagine that a situation is worse than it actually is.

Sitting stuck in traffic, Joe began to catastrophize missing his opportunity to deliver the perfect sales pitch and losing the commission he planned to spend on a new suit he would wear to the club to meet the perfect girl. He fell into despair as he contemplated how pointless his life would become because of this standstill on the freeway.

I tend not to go over-the-top in my catastrophizing – but I did catch my gremlin running loose again today as I wondered why I haven’t heard back from three prospective clients. “They must not have liked the work sample I sent.” “She must have decided to go with someone else.” “I guess my fees are too high.” Yep – these were the things that flitted through my mind … until I recognized what I was doing and fell back on a reminder from my friend, international sales trainer Connie Kadansky: “Don’t put words or thoughts in people’s mouths or minds.”

Connie specializes in teaching salespeople to overcome a challenge known as Sales Call Reluctance® – which is a fear of prospecting or self-promotion. It’s been a number of years, but I remember the conversation when she made the above comment. We were talking about the fact that salespeople often catastrophize in the same way I was doing, when she asked, “But why do we go there? Why should we ever assume that our prices are too expensive for someone? We have no way of determining their budget or how they prioritize their spending. We need to stop assuming and just get an honest answer.”

It was helpful to realize I just need to follow up – again – with my prospects and wait to hear back from them. And even if I follow up a dozen more times without ever hearing another word from any of them, I can still make the choice not to personalize their lack of response as reflecting on the quality of my work – or, more importantly, my worthiness.

I think this is an important reminder for authors who are shopping their books to agents and/or publishers, or who seem to be stuck with their marketing. Sometimes a bad book is just a bad book. But equally often, the only thing the rejection letter means is that your book is not the right fit for that publishing company (or the agent/reader who happens to be reviewing your submission).

You always have the option to reframe the lack of response any way you like,  but the reality is that you usually know only ONE thing for sure: you haven’t heard back yet. Nothing more. If you still need some cheering, perhaps you will take heart from some of the more famous author rejections:

  • “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language,” said the editor of the San Francisco Examiner to Rudyard Kipling.
  • Dr. Seuss received many rejection letters, including the following: “[This book is t]oo different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”
  • Irving Stone’s Lust for Life was rejected 16 times, once with this helpful synopsis: “A long, dull novel about an artist.” The book went on to sell more than 25 million copies.
  • And The Tale of Peter Rabbit was turned down so many times that Beatrix Potter initially self-published it.

For further author challenges/rejections, please see Susie Smith’s blog and a list by Examiner.com.

Here’s to reframing those challenging thoughts!

Laura

*Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Give yourself PERMISSION to market your books.

(Please click on image to enlarge.)

I know, I know – the title on this post sounds somewhat ridiculous. Why would authors have to give themselves permission to market their own books? The books are THEIR books, aren’t they? Who’s going to stop them from marketing those books? Aha – now we’re getting somewhere. Who IS going to stop you, the author, from marketing your own book? Would you believe me if I told you that YOU are the most likely culprit?

It’s all about a little thing my good friend Therese Skelly likes to call mindset. And if you mean to become an SBM* and get really good at marketing your books, you must first master your mindset. This means embracing the role of marketer and salesperson, confident that you have an excellent product (your book) to sell to your very hungry market (your potential readers).

In all my years participating in the Phoenix networking and business development circle, one thing that still amazes me is how difficult it is for many people to promote themselves and their businesses. They just have a huge hesitation to say, “Here’s what I do, and you should hire/buy from me because I’m pretty good at it.” Unfortunately, many authors struggle from the same challenges.

What’s behind this fear of self-promotion? Lots of things, most likely – but the biggest one appears to be a hugely emotional fear of rejection. “What if they don’t like my book?” Last post, I encouraged you to develop a thick skin. Now I’m STRONGLY encouraging you to give yourself permission to promote your book. Take a page out of Debbie Allen‘s playbook and become a shameless self-promoter.

If it’s a good book that can help people, you owe it to them to let them know about it. If it’s a fictional work that will truly move your readers, don’t you think they want the opportunity to read it? Get over your fear, false humility, or whatever is holding you back and get out there to toot your own horn! Because here’s the deal – it will be difficult to impossible to get anyone else to promote your book for you or with you if you don’t take the lead by passionately promoting it yourself.

See you Thursday!

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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PREVIOUS POSTS

Thursday, June 2 – You’ve got to develop a thick skin if you’re going to get SERIOUS about SELLING your books

Monday, May 30 – If you REALLY want to sell books, you’ve got to learn to start thinking like a marketer

Thursday, May 26 You must know why YOU are writing this book – and be able to talk about it

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