Stop Worrying About Making Your Fair Share… The First Sale Is Always The Hardest


We couldn’t wait to jump in the pool. The sun beat down us. It felt like the inside of an oven.  As soon as we dropped our bags, my son jumped in.

I sort of tiptoed in the pool. I inched my way in. The water was cold, despite the heat outside. I inched a little deeper a half step at a time.  My son foiled my plan of gradual acclimation to the cold water. He swam to the other end of the pool. He’s only six so I need to keep my eye on him.

“Crap. I can’t delay this anymore.”

In one swift move, I dove underneath the rope that divides the shallow end from the deeper end. The cold water stung for a few seconds. After that, everything was ok. I swam across the pool with ease. I no longer cared about the coldness.

The First step Is Always The Hardest – Unknown

Similar quotes abound.

The First Million Is Always The Hardest – Unknown

There’s a reason there are so many quotes that give the same advice. There are two things holding us back.

There is the unknown. We don’t know what to expect.

In other cases, there are knowns we want to avoid. I knew the first few seconds of the cold water would sting. That’s why I found it so hard to dive in.

The First Sale Is Always The Hardest – Unknown

I face the same struggles in my professional life.  Getting a new customer to give me a chance is much harder than getting repeat business from a long time customer.

The Biggest Hurdle In Business

The most critical point of any sales, marketing or persuasive effort is the second the enter your world. Convince them to take that first step. It’s the hardest part. It’s why so many businesses work so hard on customer acquisition.

In my own experience, getting a new customer to spend $10 on that first product takes more effort than getting them to spend $99 on the second product.

There’s the unknown of dealing with a new person or entity. They don’t know if you’re trustworthy. They lack the experience to know what to expect from you.

In addition, they also fear the “knowns.”  You’re asking them to part with their hard earned cash. They surmise from past experiences that you’ll try and sell them other stuff in the future.

How do you help them get past that initial fear?

The Low Impact Welcome

Make that first entry into your world low impact. Ask for a little and give a lot. Don’t worry if you’re not getting your fair share in the first transaction. I read a lot of complaints by peers on Social Media.  They cry about customers who fail to recognize their hard work.

“I’ll be damned if I give away my hard work for a pittance.”

Here’s the truth.

Nobody cares how hard you worked on it. They only care about what it does for them.

Deliver kick-ass value you’ll make your fair share as time goes on.

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There’s a house behind us shrouded in mystery. I don’t mean a haunted house, just some low-level mystery. A few months ago a “for sale” sign appeared. There’s nothing unusual about that. This family kept to themselves. They were friendly if you passed by but they wouldn’t go out of their way to say hello. One day, new faces appeared. There were no moving trucks. There were no goodbye and good luck wishes.

Nobody knows if the old family moved out. Nobody knows yet if they sold the house or decided to rent it. The new people seem to be older. Maybe it’s grandparents staying there? It’s a total secret.

As I go for my daily walks I try to sneak a peak and see if I can garner a hint as to who’s living there.

The Power Of The Unknown

There is no intentional secrecy or irregular behavior. It’s a simple mystery. Once the loose ends are tied up I can put this mystery behind me.

Those loose ends keep my interest piqued.

Always Leave Them Wanting More – P.T. Barnum

The same principle holds true in sales and marketing.

Once you tie up the loose ends, you lose your grip on your audience. There’s no reason to stick around.

The greatest marketers, entertainers and product creators in history followed this rule.

They sell you on fixing a problem. They give you just enough to wet your appetite but they leave you hungry.

You buy the solution. The solution ties up those loose ends.

If they’re super smart, the solution reveals a new problem.

Now, you stick around to solve your new problem.

What About Respecting Your Customer?

Sure, you need to treat your customers with respect. You need to solve REAL problems.

Here’s the hard truth.

No matter how well you treat your customer, they’ll leave once they think you’ve solved all the problems you’re capable of solving. And why should they stick around?

One of my first mentors in business was a thirty-year sales veteran.

He gave me advice which contradicted everything I ever read in sales books. He said:

Never tell your prospect you can solve his problem. Once he knows his problem is solved, he’ll price shop you

It took me ten years of struggling before I followed that advice. I was too afraid. I thought I would lose the sale. Of course, I lost most of those sales anyway. The ones I did make panned out exactly as he predicted.

He offered this follow-up advice.

Leave out something small but something important. It forces them to come back to you.

Just like the advice of P.T. Barnum, he advised leave to leave a loose end. Give enough to curb the hunger but not enough to satisfy desire.

Fiction writers use cliffhangers to keep us turning pages. Good marketers give us just enough info to be useful, but not enough to give closure.

That’s the balancing act. Can you give me enough to curb the hunger but not enough to satisfy my desire?

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Can “The Sticky Memory” Technique Make Your Message Impossible To Forget?

It was just like any other trip to Whole Foods. I bought a pound of coffee and two bars of premium dark chocolate. My wife and I are total chocolate snobs. It’s one of the things we splurge on. It wasn’t an unusual trip today but it’s one I’ll remember for quite some time.

When I bought the stuff, the cashier packed the bag and I went on my way. The kids distracted me the second I walked in the door. I didn’t empty the bag until later that night. At 9:00 PM I unpacked the shopping bag. I also wanted to grab a square of the dark chocolate.

The bars were nowhere to be found.


“Did you already take the chocolate out of the shopping bag?” I said to my wife

“No. I checked the bag earlier. I  expected some chocolate.”

“I got two bars. I can’t find it. “

I checked the car. I checked every cabinet. Nothing.

She never packed it. It’s the only explanation.

I put the receipt aside. I’ll get a refund the next time I go back.

What Makes This Memorable

This is the kind of memory that sticks. There’s a reason why some memories stick and others don’t.

No matter how powerful or well written your audience walks away remembering, at most,  one thing. Are there a few outliers that might remember more? Sure. But that’s the exception.

If your audience remembers only one thing, how do we control what they remember?

What The Heck Is Sticky Memory?

The sticky memory technique is simple to use. You follow just one rule.

People remember what deviates from a pattern.

You can’t use this to help your audience remember more, but you can pick and choose what they remember.

Surround your target piece of info with a similar pattern.  If you want something forgotten, make it blend in.

Here’s an example to illustrate how it works.


If I ask you to repeat that string of characters I can guarantee the only the only thing you’ll remember later is the number 67. They’re the only two numbers in the sequence and they’re in bold.

Of course, in real life we can’t be so obvious.

In marketing, it’s helpful to use this technique to ensure audiences remember your strengths at the expense of your weaknesses.

Here’s an example.

We are a website design company. We have two years experience,  We do not offer hosting. Guess what? We just won our third design award this year.  See our terms and conditions for more.

Which of these details sticks out. The first two are negatives and written to sound bland. The last item is exceptionally bland. I also use the word “We” to lull the reader before I bring them back to life with “Guess what?”

I want you to remember the design awards at the expense of the other three items.  When your audience recalls the message later on, they’ll likely remember the awards at the expense of the other three details.

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