No Sale? It’s Not the Customer’s Fault


There are a lot of takeaways from Ryan Holiday’s book "Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts.” 

But here’s the biggest one for me: If customers don’t “get it,” don’t blame them. They aren’t responsible for the confusion we create with our sales and marketing communications—that’s on us.

After all, if customers don’t respond the way we want them to, it’s NOT because they’re being rude or acting flakey; it’s because we haven’t made them care enough to respond. 

Here are a few quotes from Holiday's "Perennial Seller" that put this idea into perspective.  

  • “When I work on a project—with clients, but particularly with my own writing—I start by acknowledging a blunt but important truth: Nobody cares about what I have made. How could they? They don’t know what it is. And if they do know, still the average fan cares a lot less than I would like them to care. This too is undeniable—how can they care much about something they haven’t experienced the benefits yet? They haven’t spent years living and breathing this thing like you have—not yet anyway."
  • “Accepting your own insignificance might not seem like an inspiring mantra to kick off a marketing campaign, but it makes a difference. I always prefer to start from a place of reality, not from my own projections and preferences. Humility is clearer-eyed than ego—and that’s important because humility always works harder than ego.
  • “I remind myself: People are busy. They have no idea why they should care about this thing. No one is eagerly awaiting it as if it was the sequel to a blockbuster franchise (and even if it is—you’re far better off pretending it’s not and working just as hard.”
  • It is my job as the marketer of my work to make people care, and that’s not going to be possible if I start with any illusions or entitlements. Instead, I’m going to start fresh. I’m going to win my readers, customers, and fans for the first time, one person at a time, all over again." 

The Bottom Line

If the customer doesn’t care—that’s not their fault, it’s ours. It’s our job to make them care.

While this idea can be a blow to the ego, it's actually liberating. It tells us, “Okay, our customers may not care right now. But we can change that. Let’s figure out what can we do to get them to care?"

And that simple shift in mindset could create a huge breakthrough for your business.

Sean M. Lyden is CEO of Lyden Communications LLC, a Strategy and Storytelling consultancy that helps entrepreneurs tap into the power of story to grow their business.

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