Sales Mistakes

There are several basic common mistakes that salespersons make.  However, this is quite an unusual story.  The person got the sale, but his boss wasn't certain that it was a good sale.  Here's what happened...

Setting The Scene

This is the office of a grain merchants.  The merchant buys grain from farmers to sell to the flour mills, but also sells seed grain to the farmers so they can grow their next crop.

That day in the office there was the boss and the new young enthusiastic grain trader.

The Telephone Enquiry

The young salesman answered the phone, it was a potential new customer asking for a price for 10 tonnes of seed.  The trader quoted a price, to which the farmer immediately said "Yes, that price is OK, I'll take delivery as soon as you can get the seed to me".

The young trader enthusiastically took the farmer's details, arranged delivery for the following week and explained the 30 days payment terms.  That was the end of the telephone call.

The Boss

The boss looked over his glasses and puffed on his cigar (this was before the days of no-smoking offices). 

"Ye wain't get paid lad!" exclaimed the old Yorkshireman from behind his big leather topped desk.

How did the boss know this?  He went on to explain...

"If they're (the farmers) spending their own brass, they'll always haggle for a discount.  Yer new man hasn't any intention of paying, that's why he agreed to yer price.  Mark me words, ye wain't get paid".

The Outcome

Sure enough, the grain merchant never got paid.

The Takeaway

Some industries still work on credit terms with monthly invoicing.  If your business operates in this environment then make sure you know your customers, or ask for references and follow them up.We all want to receive the full price for our goods and services, but always beware.

If something is too good to be true, then normally it is too good to be true.  This maybe wasn't the case in this example, but it's a good rule to follow whether you are selling or buying.

Not certain about something?  Ask your manager for their opinion.  They have years of experience and could have experienced the same situation before.

Get the money first

Most online businesses will take payment before despatching the goods.  This is the safest method for any business.  However, it will depend what industry you serve and what goods you sell as to what is the normal payment procedure.

There certainly seems some sense in a new business structuring itself and its products to take payment first.

How To Write An Awesome 'Group Writing Project, How To... Post'

I'm going to give you my view of what you should write for a group writing project and how to write it.

After giving it a little thought, the most useful subject would seem to be as per the title of this blog post.


Because basically you can use the opportunity to promote yourself.

Let me explain what I wouldn't do.  Just like Darren Rowse at Problogger, I have two blogs.  The one your reading now which covers bogging and running an online business profitably (similar niche to Problogger) and Vintage Tractor Engineer whereI sell tractor maintenance advice in the form of DVD's and eBooks.  Just like Darren's other site (Digital Photography School) Vintage Tractor Engineer is my main source of income.

I didn't want to showcase a 'How To...' post from the tractor blog, as I figured there would be few of Problogger's followers that were into tractors, but many of them that were into the blogging and business niche.

Hence it would be more useful to me to get Problogger followers to read Tips2Excel.

How Am I Going To Do It?

Essentially I'm going to do it by example.  Here's what I'm going to include and why:

  • Introduce yourself and your bog (these new vistors don't know who you are)
  • Showcase your best posts (show people what great content they could be reading)
  • Entice your visitors with the title of your next two posts (they won't want to miss your next great blog posts will they?)
  • Give them a call to action (in this case I want them to subscribe to my email list)

This is your chance to shine.

This is your chance to get noticed and promote your blog to potential new readers, so let's make the most of it.

Here we go...

Introduce Yourself

Let me introduce myself (lets do this first so everyone knows who you are).  My name's Steve Ridsdale and (as you already know) I have two blogs.  The tractor blog is where I make my living, selling 'how to maintain your tractor' products.

I run the tractor website with my brother Ian.  We work well together, share the profits and will continue to expand the tractor site.  I wanted to start a new blog on my own (so I get all the profits myself from this new site).  I chose Tips2Excel to be my platform.

I have already learnt the techniques needed to run a profitable online business and have successfuly put them into practice on the vintage tractor website.  I am now going to document these techniques on Tips2Excel.  Essentially this makes writing the new blog quite easy as I know what I am taling about.  OK, yes, I'm always learning and certainly don't know everything.  What's more I don't always practice what I preach, there are lots of things I need to do to improve the tractor blog.  However, I do have experience, credibility and proof that I can create a profitable online business.

Examples Of Your Best Posts

There may be links in your sidebar to your best content, or there will be internal links in your posts to some of your best content or squeeze pages.

Don't take a chance that your visitors (in this case coming from Problogger) will find this awesome content.  No, link to it directly in your post.  So here's some from Tips2Excel...

Business Survival And Growth
Email CPM
Can A Product Be Too Cheap?
Exploit A Business Micro Niche
Sir John Harvey Jones - How To Price A Product

Future Posts On Your Blog

You want your new visitors to return to your blog.  You probably want them to subscribe to your email list.

Give them a reason to subscribe.  Entice them with the titles to your forthcoming blog posts.  On this blog our next articles will be...

  1. The Mistake Of An Enthusiastic Young Saleseman
  2. Productivity - A Guide To Success
 The mistake of the salesman is an interesting story, we can learn a lot from it.

Give A Call To Action

You've got your new website visitor.  Don't loose them now.

Make it ease for them to follow what you wish them to do.  I want them to subscribe to my email list.  So here's the subscription form...

 Subscribe in a reader

Enter your email address to subscribe to new articles:

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Take Something From The Project

I'm going to take a look at the other 'How to...' posts that have entered into the project.  I am keen to see what other people have done and the different styles/approaches taken.

This post is part of a group writing project.  You can read all about in on this Problogger post.

Premium Price Products

Sell an expensive product which is cheap to produce - simple

  •  Adding value to a product is the blueprint for many businesses.
  • Sounds like the perfect business to be in doesn't it?
  • Well it is!

Products That Cost Nothing To Produce

These are the best ones because once you have produced the product you can replicate and retail it an no cost.

It could be that you have an e-book which contains valuable information which you sell for say £39.99.  It may have taken you several weeks to first write and produce the e-book, but that is a one off cost.  You have had to input either your own time or pay someone to produce the product, but once it has been written in costs nothing to duplicate it.

If we say the collation of information and writing of the digital book took 15 days @ £100/day for your time then that's £1,500 labour cost (we'll call that a cost because you could have been earning money from elsewhere in that time or indeed you may have been charged that amount for someone else to write for you).  You only need to sell 38 e-books at £39.99 and then after that it is mainly all profit.

Products That Cost Very Little But Can Be Sold At A Premium

The key phrase in the heading above is 'sold at a premium'.  You have to be able to get a premium price for your product.  The example I am going to give is of a recipe card product that contains all the necessary herbs spices to cook the dish.  This product sells and works well.  Why?

It works because the recipes are for dishes such as curries.  Yes we all may have some cayenne pepper, chilli powder, and garlic in the storecupboard but do we have any of the less common spices which are needed in small quantities to make an amazing curry.  The answer is probably not, as we wouldn't use them for any other dish and only need them in small quantities for our curry dish - the chances are that if you buy a whole jar of the spice that it will not ge tused before it reaches the end of its storage date.

For this reason the business is able to sell small quantities of several different spices with a recipe card.  The spices would only have cost a few pence, but the product can be sold for something heading towards £2 - therefore leaving a large margin.

Why Sell Products And Not Consultancy

Lawyers, accountants, surveyors, marketing consultants, etc. etc. all charge high hourly fees and make a good living for themselves - there's no doubting that.  However, there is one thing to note about this method of earning a living.  They are charging by the hour.  Yes, sure they are charging a high rate per hour, but there is a maximum number of hours they can work per week.  So if they stop work and retire then their income also ceases.  In fact early retirement for these professions is not something that is commonly seen because it is as the professional gets more experienced that they can charge higher fees and to stop work just as they have reached that point in their careers is a hard decision to make.

Conversely if you have spent the early part of your career producing a product then you will still have that to sell.  Efficient machinery can produce large quatntities of product 24 hours a day whilst you sit back and relax!


Digital or physical products that add value can be reproduced to provide a much greater hourly profit than slaving away at a desk like a lawyer or accountant.

Know Your Market

Today I was discussing a product my friend was thinking of producing.  I asked a few questions and the product would clearly satisfy the needs of the potential customers.  Not only that, but it would same the clients money, as they would be able to buy it at a lower cost from my friend than they could produce one themselves.

I cannot disclose the product, but I can give you an example of a similar sort of thing.  This product will be required by law next hear for certain businesses - a bit like a COSHH assessment is a requirement for UK businesses now.  Many UK businesses produce their own COSHH assessments, but many more just purchase one ready written and possibly slightly tailored for their own specific needs.

Producing these sorts of products that fulfill a customer's need and at a cost less than the company can produce one themselves can sell in large volumes.  However, when I started asking a few more questions it was clear that my friend needed to do some more research before starting on this venture.  She didn't know the following...

  • How much it would cost the companies to produce their own reports
  • How much the customers would be prepared to pay
  • What it would cost to produce
  • She thought she could charge £5,000 for the product (I thought £200 max!!!!)
  • She thought she could offer the consultancy over a period of years; whereas the the requirement would be immediate for the businesses.  There is only about a 6 month period to sell this product.
  • Size of the market (easy to research for this particular product).
To be fair to my friend, she had only just recently thought of the idea.  However, she was prepared to start devoting time and money to the product before she had thought of how she would connect with potential customers and before she had thought about the above bullet points.

In my opinion the idea could potentially earn her a good amount of money, but I think she should think how it is going to work and how she can best sell and deliver the product. 

Add On Products

Google currently has about 70% of the market for web search.  They are trusted brand and have interests in all sorts of web services and applications. If we think back to the mid 1990's this situation was the same for some of the big supermarkets (OK, so what I mean is they had a large percentage of the grocery business), and what did they do? branched out into add on products - insurance, banking, price comparrison, pharmacy, etc.  Using their trusted brand and customer base to retail other products.

Today Google announced they have been granted permission by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to buy and sell energy.  Google say they are initially looking to have more control over their energy costs, but the spokesman added "We don’t have any concrete plans. We want the ability to buy and sell electricity in case it becomes part of our portfolio.”

So there we have it.  Google are not saying too much at the moment, but they now have the necessary permissions in place to trade energy in the US.  It would not take too much work or (importantly) incur much cost for Google to offer their customers all sorts of products and services.  This is a classic case of using add on products to increase sales and profits.

Have a think what add on products complement your business. These add-ons could be in the same genre as your existing products, but as like Google or the supermarkets the products could be completely different.  Clearly customers do not wish to be bombarded by offer after offer of unrelated products - no add-on services need to be approached with some care and consideration.

Building a customer base is one of the hardest, most time consuming and expensive elements in busines, so it makes sense to use your prospects to the full.