The Best Kind Of Product Is One You Don’t Need To Sell

by Amit Sodha

in Entrepreneurship

Apu, The Ultimate Salesman

So, you have a product and you want to start selling it. Where do you start? How do you sell it to people? You don’t want to end up sounding like a second hand car salesman and you don’t want to pressure people into buying your product because you don’t want the rest of your life to be about that. So how do you go about selling your product?

In all the personal development seminars I’ve been to, with the biggest speakers, there have a been a few common elements, of which one important one is, cultivating the skill of selling. There has always been something about the selling principles that didn’t sit well with me. Coercing people that they would fail without my product or that my product would change their life just didn’t seem right to me. Who am I, afterall, to prejudge that my product will change someone’s life to that extent?

Compliment? Sure! Aide? Maybe, but change for good? I don’t believe I have the right to say that.

Life Changing Products

I understand the concept of believing in my own product but trying to say that it will transform a persons life just feels arrogant to me. I don’t have the appropriate foresight to know how someone else will respond to my product. In my opinion the best kind of product I can create is one which I do not need to sell. There have been plenty of products that have been recommended to me by people because they would swear by them, and so naturally, it aroused my curiosity enough for me to want to acquire it too.

So the general ethos suggests that we need to become good at selling. I have a problem with the way that information is presented. Here’s why:

Let The Product Speak For Itself

I believe that the best kinds of products are the ones that you don’t need to sell. I would like my products, whether that be my non-tangible services in the form of my persona for speaking, comedy, coaching or radio, or, my tangible products like ebooks, to be in demand simply because people can see from the offset that they provide value.

Selling by trying to convince people my products work is a method which I’m not fan of, and in all honesty, something I’m not comfortable with it at all. I have often wondered why I’ve been told that I need to become good at selling; shouldn’t I be taught instead how to make a good product to begin with? That seems more important to me. Then I can focus on creating new openings and using a confident, not arrogant, approach to selling.

Good Things Go Viral Themselves

In the past, if I’ve seen something good, I’ve naturally had a tendency to do the word of mouth thing and share that discovery with others. If I see a youtube video that I thought was funny, I’ll send it to people who might appreciate it. I read the book Shantaram based on recommendations from a few friends and then someone brought it for my birthday. I loved it and have since been telling everyone I know to buy and read it! Not once have I seen any marketing around that book. I even heard on the grapevine that they’re turning that book into a movie and I’ve since been telling everyone.

Peer To Peer Selling

When the iPhone was first launched I wasn’t convinced at all and I didn’t like the fact that simple features like copy & paste were missing. So I waited until I received enough recommendations from people and that more basic features were installed and then I bought the phone. Apple didn’t sell it to me, it was my peers who sold it to me.

Recommendations

Those products didn’t need to be sold to me, they were recommended by others who liked them and then the spreading began. In the same way, with my work, I want the work that I do to speak for itself. When it comes to the selling part the only thing I believe I need to do is tell people what I do (or tell them about my product) and let them judge for themselves whether they think it gives them value or not. I believe they will decide that for themselves. I don’t need to convince them of that value. I’m sure if they think it’s good they will want to tell others about it just like my friends did with me about Shantaram and how I’ve been doing ever since i’ve read it.

A Better Way

Here are my tips on what I feel is a better approach getting your product out there and selling:

1. Learn how to create a product. Start the process of creation and follow through until completion.

2. Create a good product. If it isn’t selling, that isn’t a reason to sell it harder. Maybe the product just needs tweaking. Maybe it’s crap! Either way, try a new approach.

3. Ask people to be brutally honest. Would they naturally spread the word of your product? If not, why? Listen and learn from what they’ve got to say.

4. Create new openings and opportunities. That, I believe is more important than the skill of selling.

5. Let your product do the selling.

In the famous words of Apu from The Simpsons: ‘Thank you, come again!’

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christopher Kabamba

Amit,

You have some strong points here.

My greatest disappointment when it comes to books is finding a book in which the author claims “its the ONLY book you have to read this year!” or “the only book you have to read to succeed”. I actually have a book on my table which claims, that’s the only book i need to read to succeed!

It doesn’t matter how actually great the book is; it just doesn’t occur well for that to come from the author and it is almost always not true.

Such talk should be left to “fans”; it is more acceptable… not the author.
.-= New at Christopher Kabamba’s blog ..3 HAPPINESS LIABILITIES to stay away from =-.

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2 Christopher Kabamba

By the way, I am hearing of “Shantaram” for the first time!
I guess this is a book, right?

……….I have every reason to trust your recommendation….i should have it on my desk sooner than later. I guess this is proof that “Recommendation” works!! :-)

Thanks.
.-= New at Christopher Kabamba’s blog ..3 HAPPINESS LIABILITIES to stay away from =-.

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3 Amit Sodha

Hi Chris,

Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you understand where I’m coming from when it comes to overselling products. It’s just something that I’m personally not a fan of and I wouldn’t feel comfortable selling my blog or products that way.

Shantaram is truly an awesome book and here lies proof now that recommendation is massively powerful! :-D

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4 Christopher Kabamba

hahaha,
This is proof indeed. Recomendation works!!
Thanks
.-= New at Christopher Kabamba’s blog ..Introducing consciouSynthesis.com ~ Life, Passion, Simplicity =-.

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5 Amit Sodha

No problem! :-)

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6 Zeenat{Positive Provocations}

Hey Amit,
These are some great tips!
Am going to keep them in mind when i have my ebook out :)
Much Love,
Z~
p.s. Thank you sir , Me will surely come again ;)

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7 Amit Sodha

LOL thanks Zee and do come again! :-D x

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8 Baker

Nice tips. I am the same way with trying to oversell, it’s a lot easier like you mention to make a quality product and have that be the focus. If it is good quality, and put it out there without trying to sell it, people will talk about it. It’a all about consistency.

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9 Amit Sodha

Hey Baker, indeed the consistency definitely help and just having a bold product that does the talking is where it’s at!

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10 Valerie M

I’d venture to say that most products get bought because of recommendations anyway or simply because you start seeing a lot of people using it (which is just an indirect, nonverbal form of recommendation… or a nice way of saying peer pressure). Whenever there’s a new product, most people don’t trust it… if they know it exists in the first place. Most hard selling is usually concentrated towards ‘innovators’ at the beginning and then from there, recommendations start to take off; so for that reason, hard selling does have its place.

That said, I do agree with your tips! I’m all for this type of selling/relationship marketing. Hard selling does have its limitations and isn’t the be all, end all. I also hate when people try to hard sell something to me and my personality type just isn’t aggressive enough to do it on a constant basis.

I also agree with you and Christopher: I hate those grandiose claims also – I see it all the time for movies. How many ‘#1 movie of the year/decade/century’ can you possibly have? And books… not all the books in the world will to change my life… otherwise my life would have drastically changed a thousand times already. Obviously most of them are going to fall short!
.-= New at Valerie M’s blog ..The (slightly) evil person’s guide to being annoyingly laid-back (and reducing stress while you’re at it) =-.

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11 Amit Sodha

That’s true Valerie but I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to falling for those hard sells and grandiose claims in the past. Probably on more than one occasion. When I was talking about the other types of selling I was talking about, for example, when at seminars and they try to sell you follow up seminars and a huge cost. In one particular case I saw people being made to feel like crap for not buying into the product…and that’s not an exaggeration.

Where you talked about the initial hard sell, I still believe it’s not 100% necessary, maybe I’m not experienced enough to say for sure, but it is something I believe.

Thanks for you input and views! :-)

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12 Eduard @ Ideas With A Kick

Hey Amit,

One thing I realized lately is that some peoples idea of making a product sale is: promise they will get all of their problems handled if they buy this one thing. So they make over-realistic promises which sound cheesy. The customer is getting a lot smarter these days and is no longer falling for this shit. We need a new type of selling. Maybe one which like you say, does not involve selling.

Eduard
.-= New at Eduard @ Ideas With A Kick’s blog ..The Law of Attraction vs. Science =-.

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13 Amit Sodha

I strongly believe that to be the case Eduard and I genuinely believe that people will pay for a product, fairly if they believe they are getting a fair deal.

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14 Lana - DreamFollowers Blog

Hi Amit, those are some great tips and I would so love to create the product I don’t have to sell. But I think there is a fine line between brutal selling and making sure people understand what your product can do for them. I think it is necessary to communicate the benefits and then let them decide whether they need it or not. I am launching a product soon so these tips really came in handy for me. Thanks!
.-= New at Lana – DreamFollowers Blog’s blog ..How To Get In The Flow or How To Connect With Your Inner Genius =-.

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15 Amit Sodha

Hey Lana, thanks for sharing and good luck with your product launch too, let us know when you do release it! :-)

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16 Zengirl

Amit,

In ideal world, no one need to sell product for sake of making money but for helping others truly. I agree with you that Word of mouth is best form of advertisement any person or company can have.

Are we to expect a product from you soon? Curious.
.-= New at Zengirl’s blog ..Some Asked Questions: Person behind the blog =-.

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17 Amit Sodha

Hey Zengirl, very possibly indeed! And I hope that when I do you are totally honest with me in whether you would tell people about my product or whether you think it’s rubbish.

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18 Zengirl

Amit,

Sure, I will love to preview and help tell my honest opinion as always. Good luck! Let me know.
.-= New at Zengirl’s blog ..Re-connect with community around you =-.

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19 Amit Sodha

Thanks Zen, will do!

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20 Dan @ Anxiety Support Network

Interesting tips that take a more honest and ethical approach to selling a product. I think that another factor is that people have to be ready to accept the product. For example, look at Mac computers; while they are mechanically superior to PCs in almost every way, they don’t sell as well. This is because people value a cheaper up-front price, easier access to the product, and just a general higher level of exposure more than the soundness and high quality of Macs. An excellent product can be in fact excellent and should sell better, but for a variety of reasons, sometimes it won’t.

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21 Amit Sodha

Macs are an interesting breed, they may not have quite taken over the computing world but on the smartphone front they sure are well on their way. I really don’t see other phone maufacturers coming anywhere close in terms of design or functionality. Since the product is so good I hear nothing but good things about it save for the battery. Thanks for the comments Dan!

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22 Nadia - Happy Lotus

Hi Amit,

Thank you so much for sharing all of this and for having the courage to state what you did. I am of the same mindset as you. People always think there is a set formula to do things and the beauty is that there is not. Just create a kick-ass product, create it with all of your passion and the rest will take care of itself.

Anything forced never works. It may work for a short period of time but a sustained success is earned by simply creating an awesome product or service.

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23 Amit Sodha

You’re so right Nadia, when you force things they generally don’t work, when a top notch product is created it takes care of itself.

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24 Armen Shirvanian

Hi Amit.

We sure do have to create products that folks have an inclination to purchase on their own. I can think of a couple of random products that have that effect, and then I can think of some products that don’t have that effect, requiring a harder sell.

Whether it is based on the hype built around the product, the desire to support the person create it, or the quality of the product itself, having at least one of those items makes a big difference in having an item get itself off of the shelves.

Peer-to-peer selling sure is huge. It is said to convert at 80% sales rates(when able to be afforded), as compared to 10% for normal advertising.

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25 Amit Sodha

Thanks for sharing those stats Armen, I had no idea the difference was that big between peer to peer sales compared to normal advertising…so I guess I was very close to the truth indeed!

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26 Johnny

I use to work in sales and even tried to direct sell an ebook online with catastrophic results. You know… I had that really long web page full of sentences highlighted in yellow and $300 value for $19.99.

Since the failure, I realized exactly the points you make and make use of social media and the network I’m creating to promote my blog and business. There’s nothing like your audience that lets you know what you’re really worth.
.-= New at Johnny’s blog ..Wordpress Tips You Really Should Know, Part II: Speeding Up Your Blog =-.

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27 Amit Sodha

I see those kinds of ads everywhere and even though they can be quite convincing sometimes, at other times you can tell when they are speaking total rubbish, you tried and learned, that’s the most important thing! P.S. like your latest post, that’s one I definitely need!

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28 Kaushik

Great ideas. Producing something of value is essential. Marketing and selling-well, that’s tricky. Good marketing is simply bringing a good product and the people who find it valuable together. Where marketing gets a bad name is when it brings shoddy products to people who don’t need them. That’s all too common in the self-help/spiritual marketplace.
.-= New at Kaushik’s blog ..How do we know what is good for us? =-.

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29 Amit Sodha

You mentioned something about marketing that I didn’t touch on. You can create catchy and powerful marketing campaigns, just make sure you have the product to back it up…i see some really funny ads on t.v. sometimes, some really clever ones too, most of them come accompanied by a well known product anyway! Thanks for sharing Kaushik!

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30 alex - unleash reality

yip. repackaged content and bleh robot speak never works. evar. being remarkable and brilliant and fresh is key.

def agree that it’s slimy and arrogant to suppose that your product will change people’s lives and make colours brighter and food tastier and make them feel like they’re dancing on sunshine… but at the same time, you can have full confidence in your product and make AMAZING so that if a person is ready to, it will change them and make their life brilliant. your product by itself won’t change who they are – that’s the slimy part cos there’s no guarantee that it will help at all, but when you write something amazing and do it in a way that affects people, then you make the chance of them being affected and changed by your product much better.

super awesome article. really diggs the way your site is looking lately.

supremo respect amit

keep it unreals
alex – unleashreality

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31 Amit Sodha

dude, firstly i gotta say I love your tagline, ‘keep it unreal’! I’m one of these people who thinks, damn, why didn’t I think of that first! ;-)

Thanks for your thoughts and comments, I see exactly what you’re saying about believing in your own product and yet not trying to convince people of what it can do for them. People are wising up to that more and more and I do personally believe people are now more attracted to the honest approach, especially when it comes to self improvement products.

Thanks again!

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32 Kavita @ Simbazen

Marketing relationship is the new ‘hard sell’! Appearing softer but still adressing its objectives. Which is what alot of companies are adopting as they know it generates a loyal customer base. Mac is a company which adopts this, promoting a creative, fun, dynamic organisation which can address the needs of this generation> its marketing strategy is amazing and completly innovative. Smaller companies are at a loss to compete with it though, as MAC has DONE the hard sell, and continues with it.
However your view on dont try to sell something which is esentially false hope, is cool. We know there are many factors which motivate buying behaviour, and people are moving away from this, disgusted by the obvious nature of the messege. Sutlety is key!
For individuals like yourself, who have a steady income and see additional incomes as hobbies, interests,this moto of selling for the love of it works fine,but for struggling young, small businesses,its alot more difficult.
How can they adopt such an organisational strategy???? Just thoughts here, so welcome feedback from all… :) Peace and Blessings! xxx

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33 Amit Sodha

Interesting question Kav but I genuinely believe that even the smaller business can adopt this kind of model and compete with the big boys and girls of the free market economy.

You can still use clever marketing, you fun language, and give you product and unique edge to make it stand out from the rest.

I believe the reason why most mobile phone makers are losing out to the iPhone is simply because they’re trying to compete with it rather than create a new product that is different and sells in a different way. I wonder how well a phone would do nowadays in the market of the smart phone which is sexy, simple, has buttons and just sells on being a phone and not an all round computer-ma-bob gizmo!

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34 Kavita @ Simbazen

Hmmmm! De-evolving the computer-ma-bob gizmo = Retro phones!!!! ;)
There is a government iniative which promotes “social marketing” – esentially using marketing techniques to promote positive good. It border lines social corportate responsibility from a business point of view,increasing the value and effects of the triple bottom line equation.
I agree its innovation which is the key not imatation. I wanted to write more on the subject,but lunch time is over :( Will write further comments later!
Peace and Blessings xxx

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35 Amit Sodha

Interesting Kavi, have you seen the new innocent smoothie adverts?? They would come under that category, also I find the cream egg adverts hilarious, so much so I almost want to buy them!
.-= New at Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice’s blog ..The Best Kind Of Product Is One You Don’t Need To Sell =-.

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36 Swati

Hi Amit,

I’ve worked in a cold-calling, hard sell environment and it is horrid! I felt deeply uncomfortable being comprimised in that way. I believe people have the right to say no and that should be respected, the employers point of view was, of course, very different and in turn I no longer work there!

I agree that the kind of sell and marketing that has the biggest impact, even for me, is on recommendation. I know I’ve done it and even been asked if I work for a particular person or company because I’m so passionate about it’s product. That’s when you know something is a good product/service.

However I also believe that not getting yourself, in whatever capacity it may be, known to your audience is bordering on naiveity and blind faith. On some level you would have to let people know who you are and what you do otherwise how can they recommend you!!

There is, therefore, a difference in advertising your service/product and letting your audience know who you are and what you do. Only when something is established can it wholly rely on word of mouth sales and more importantly word of mouth recomendation…the reputation has to first of all be created.

I started a business that I don’t trade under anymore but will pick up in the next couple of years but I get asked if I’m still doing it, when will I start again etc. all the time because I created a buzz at that time through letting peopole know, getting leaflets in the right places, in the right shops where my audience would be able to see me. Even if the fruitian of that was not a sale, it created a recognition and a kind of stability in knowing my presence. So many of the people who have asked me if I’m still trading are those who’ve heard from others on seeing my advertising.

I believe there has to be a healthy balance of both.

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37 Amit Sodha

I’ve been in those cold calling type environments too, not just the over the phone kind, the door to door kind and it was an awful experience for me, it just was not what I was comfortable with and not what I could spend the rest of my life doing.

Like you said, knowing your audience and what they’d be attracted to is incredibly important…Reputation is essential for the peer to peer marketing and the way to create that reputation is network with the people who have the power to spread your reputation far and wide because they already have that solid reputation.

Thanks for sharing your experiences Swati. x

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38 Belinda Munoz

I’m a consumer who’s either the last one to buy something that has evangelized everyone else or receives the thing that everyone else wants as a gift. In other words, I’m not a big buyer unless I need something and having said that, I certainly agree with you that I buy based on other people’s recommendation.

As far as selling goes, your tips sound interesting. I especially think #2 and #3 are critical. I do think that there are those who are buyers and those who have to be convinced. In this economy, I’m seeing more and more folks who are needing to be convinced so a product needs to be top-notch if we expect it to sell on its own.

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39 Amit Sodha

Very interesting thoughts Belinda and It’s interesting that you picked up on points two and three, and especially three, because that in itself can serve as a huge indicator if you’ve found a need and your product fills it. You’re right about the buyers and convincee’s and how the buyers market has shifted, I’ve noticed that too!

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40 Faizal

Good post. I think a product that sells itself is one that provides huge value to the customers or solves a problem that we deal with everyday.

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41 Amit Sodha

Thanks for commenting Faizal and you hit on a great point that is very simple and true.

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42 Ryan

Hi Amit,

The silent sell works best for me. If you’re good at what you do and have a passion for it – skipping over the competitive silly marketing practices along the way – the right people will find you. You can call it law of attraction, karma, or the universe, but when you add value and feel great about it, the right people will find you.

You make a great point about feeling arrogant when trumpeting a ‘life-changing’ product. Feelings. Bingo. It is a universe of feelings, and no matter how much work you do, if you don’t feel good about your work, you won’t attract people to it. If, however, you feel light about your work people will find you. It come be word of mouth, networking, or some way which you hadn’t envisioned. But you’ll attract customers and friends as surely as the night follows the day. The same Force makes each thing happen.

Great blog! I’ll be back :)
.-= New at Ryan’s blog ..Super Quick Lesson in SEO =-.

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43 Amit Sodha

I like those words Ryan ‘the right people will find you’! Thank you, that’s an amazing and beautiful sentiment and anyone who doesn’t believe in synchronicity is blind because I do see it all around. Some people may call it coincidence, some providence, either way there is a certain kind of magic when you create a powerful product and then allowing to find it’s own way.

Thanks for sharing.

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44 BK

I believe there will be a group of people who will be saying, “No matter how good a product is, if you are sell or promote it, no one will know about it.” I agree with them to certain extent. We do have to let people know about the product and that is where it will start. If the product is good, words will spread. What I don’t believe is hard-selling a product. If a product is really good, after introducing to people, it should be able to sell itself.
.-= New at BK’s blog ..Religious Harmony in the World =-.

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45 Amit Sodha

You’re absolutely right BK, the reason is because if you believe in your product you will naturally want to sell it to other people and people will feel the passion behind your product. I believe it’s a comination of the two, selling in the sense or creating awareness and the other part being people coming to find your product.

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46 aDeeb

I disagree.
The product does not really matter.
What matters is the advertising and marketing and the target audience..
Look at Apple. They have made a career out of marketing and shabby products.
.-= New at aDeeb’s blog ..Rockstar101: An evening with Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. =-.

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47 Amit Sodha

I’m gald you disagree adeeb…it’s nice to get a different opinion.

I disagree with you about Apple, most regular apple users I know would say it is a far superior product whether that be the iPhone or the computers.

Either way they have clever marketing but the word of mouth plays a massive part because people do genuinely love their products.

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48 Phil Bolton

Amit –

Yes, the best products are so good that they sell themselves. However I do think that even a great product needs a little help. Apple still market the Iphone even though it is the killer app in that space right now. If the value is completely obvious you don’t need to sell it so hard and feel like a cowboy – you’re proud to tell the world about what you have. So balance is key here I believe. Thanks for a great post.

Phil
.-= New at Phil Bolton’s blog ..Viktor Frankl – Lessons from a Concentration Camp =-.

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