“INTEGRITY NOW!” Remember on Seinfeld when George’s Dad used to run around saying. “Serenity Now!” Every time I see a telesummit promoting six-figure “experts” (that aren’t all making six-figures) or “48 hours” to get 10K subscribers or any other suspect sales strategy that attempts to sell people on the idea that they can get immediate success with little or no real effort, I am going to scream: “Integrity Now!”
There’s a reason many solopreneurs cringe when they think about having to sell their products and services. When I first started out, every time I thought about selling to a potential client, an image of a sleazy, pushy used car salesman came to mind. Other people conjure up aggressive telemarketers or fast-talking, overbearing direct sales reps that they’ve encountered in the past.
If you spend time online, you’ve no doubt been exposed to some of the more common and in my book questionable sales tactics. The one that annoys me the most is the “Six-figure Shuffle.” This is where you are promised an exclusive life-changing experience or revenue-producing content and information from experts that have all reached the magical six-figure mark in their business. And if you follow their advice, you too will cross into the promised land of six-figure bliss in 30 day, 90 days, 3 months, or sometimes even a year in the case of some mastermind groups.
I am not about knocking anybody’s six or seven-figure hustle. And I do believe that it is 100% possible to earn six-figures as a service-based solopreneur with the right business models. What I am speaking up about is the need to for integrity and honesty when it comes to what it really takes to build a sustainable business with consistent profit. I’d love to see more people tell the truth about what it really took to reach six figures: how long it took to get there and what the actual profit on the six-figures was after all of the expenses were accounted for, including affiliate payouts.
Many of the people I see employing the “Six-Figure Shuffle” sales strategy have had some skin in the game – they didn’t just start out marketing online yesterday or even in the last six months. And more than likely, they also have connections to more popular, highly visible influencers in their niche. There is nothing inherently wrong with using either of those approaches to sell more products and services. What I do see as a problem is setting up false expectations for people just getting started online or that have absolutely no understanding of sales and marketing.
The leaders of the Six-Figure Shuffle sell you on the idea that everyone and anyone who uses their step-by-step systems can immediately make six-figures too. The truth is that their system may not work for you or your audience. And many of them are making six-figures by selling us on how they say they did it the first time. How many experts do you know that actually made six-figures after expenses and taxes, by actually doing something other than teaching people how to make six-figures?
I’ve seen so many people disappointed in their investments of time and money. Especially since it is usually not just one product they purchase but several. They start with a lower-level product and when that doesn’t work they find another “expert” and invest in a bigger package. And when that doesn’t work they are off to the next expert, investing in an even bigger package. Before they know it, they are out of thousands of dollars and years have gone by and they are still struggling to put things together.
A few years ago, a client we’ll call Joan, asked me to help her with social media for an upcoming live class she was offering. The fee for her class was $97. Her topic was something she had years of expertise and credibility in. Joan had just invested in a group coaching experience led by a highly visible online “expert” that guided her through 8 weeks of building a product she could sell online. Sounds good so far, right?
My first step with any clients I help with marketing is to ensure they have a clear picture of exactly who they are marketing to and the problem their product or service solves. When I asked Joan who her target audience was she said: women in corporate America in at the executive or c-level positions. This immediately raised a red flag for me, but I kept going with my questions. Surely the program she had just invested thousands of dollars in had helped her position this for the right audience, I thought. I was wrong. The more questions Joan answered, the more red flags I saw. Her event was about five weeks away and all she had done was post links to Facebook. She didn’t have a:
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- Current blog or online content to help establish credibility.
- Mailing list of people that she was frequently engaged with.
- Consistent marketing approach for her business, yet alone the sales page for her event.
- Sales page with clear benefits and sales copy in the language of her audience.
- Free offer to give them so they could get to like, know and trust her as someone that could solve their problem.
- Powerful online presence on social media sites, including LinkedIn, the platform most likely to be used by her target audience.
- List of potential joint venture partners, affiliates, or people in her network that could help her cross promote and spread the word about her event.
But even if she had all those things, it still would have been a hard sell. Why? Because her audience was executive women in corporate america. These women are not sitting around in their offices trolling through long sales pages. They are not pulling out the company or personal credit card to buy a $97 live call, video or ebook from someone they don’t know or trust. Corporate audiences have a different buy cycle and make buy decisions differently than solopreneurs and service-based entrepreneurs that spend large amounts of time online.
I felt horrible that I couldn’t really help her get the results she needed in order to get a return on her investment. I could have tweeted for 1,000 hours in the five weeks leading up to the event but it wouldn’t have had much impact. Like so many other brilliant women anxious to find success online, she was mislead and misguided and unsuccessful on turning a profit.
Now I know that you might be thinking it’s Joan’s fault. Joan does have some ownership in this: people looking for quick profits online, rarely get it quick and rarely make a profit. But to many, the online marketing game is like a shiny casino floor with lots of shiny objects saying “try me.” It seems like everyone else is playing and we don’t want to be left out. And if we just spend $100 more dollars, we know I can hit it big. It’s addicting. And it’s tremendously hard to make a comeback once you get wiped out.
How to Avoid Falling for the Six-Figure Shuffle Sales Strategy
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- Never trade short-term gains for long-term success. Avoid shortcuts that promise you quick results without honest effort: you reap what you sow.
- Commit to learning the fundamentals of marketing and sales. Get clear about who you serve and the best way you can solve their problems. Knowing those two things will save you time, money, and frustration.
- Choose coaches, mentors, and consultants that share your values and are willing to sow into your vision (not just take your money). Use your intuition: pray before you make any large investment or sign on to a new partnership.
- Stop comparing yourself to other people. It will only make you anxious and cause you to scramble for a quick fix. Focus on your journey and take the time to find what works for you.
There are ways to market and sell from without manipulating or short-changing people. And there are sales strategies that allow you to reach more people, change more lives and grow your wealth. My goal in sharing this message isn’t to make you fearful. My intention is to help you be aware of what’s happening and realize that if you’ve fallen prey to the Six-Figure Shuffle, you are not alone and it is never too late to make a different choice.
I’m here to support you. And I know a bunch of brilliant women in my circle that practice selling and serving from a place of honesty and integrity too. Reach out to us so we can help you break free, break through, and break out.