8 sales mistakes I made (part 2)

🌲 1 of today's mistakes cost me 8 figures...

🌲 Welcome to Passive Profits! The mission here is to help current & aspiring founders win back time & freedom by productizing your expertise into offers you build once and sell forever.

(Read time today: 7 minutes)

I just launched Passive Profits PRO, my premium newsletter subscription.

Thanks to the first 6 PROs who upgraded! They each earned 1 of the 20 complementary coaching sessions ($250 value) I’m gifting.

Here’s what one premium member said:

Hey founder 👋🏼

Welcome to Passive Profits!

Last week, I shared the first five selling mistakes I made as an entrepreneur.

Today, you’re getting the major lessons I learned from mistakes 6, 7, and 8.

Ready to jump in and level up your ability to sell the stuff you create?

6. You’re not repeating yourself enough

A few weeks back, I created a guide. It has one job: To help aspiring Founder-Creators figure out the right idea to productize first. It gets you from 0 to 1.

I chose that narrow scope because it’s the top problem 75% of new subscribers share when signing up for the newsletter.

That’s ample evidence to signal that the problem is an important one that affects many.

After I launched the guide, I started to let people know about it by:

  • creating a newsletter reward to help subscribers get it

  • including CTAs to it in my personal email signature

  • adding it to the nav of my Passive Profits website

  • dedicating a newsletter edition to announcing it

  • adding it to my LinkedIn bio featured section

  • adding it to past online newsletters editions

  • posting about it a few times on LinkedIn

  • adding it to my LinkedIn newsletter

After a few waves of people discovering it, I stopped promoting it.

Why? My first reaction is to tell you that, because it was free, I assumed it would naturally spread. More accurately, I hoped to promote it once and have it go viral. Right! 😆 😭

If I’m being honest, I really stopped promoting it because I was worried everyone was sick of hearing about it.

This mistake I made is actually a subconscious bias we all fall victim to. It’s called the Spotlight Effect. We assume the rest of the world is intently focused on us. In reality, they’re too preoccupied on themselves to worry about us.

A week after I stopped promoting the guide, my ultimate #1 engager — a true fan of my work — reached out. He recommended that I create a guide to help people, like him, stuck at the starting gate: “People that need to understand the first couple steps of productizing.”

I asked him, “Did you happen to see the guide I launched?”

“Nope,” he said.

This is a guy who reads 100% of these newsletters and follows my posts on LinkedIn. We also regularly share DMs in the Passive Profits Discord community.

But it wasn’t just him. Several others top engagers I followed up with also “missed that announcement,” as one person put it.

THAT announcement?! Try ten announcements!

The lesson

Here you are, worrying about repeating yourself too much and too often. In truth, 99% of your audience wasn’t paying attention. Not the first time. Probably not the 10th time, either.

Repeat yourself. Repeat yourself. Get over yourself. And then repeat yourself some more.

Last thing: Repeat yourself doesn’t mean to say that same words in the same order, week after week. Commit to the message. Experiment with the format.

OK, moving on to mistake #7…

7. You’re promising the journey instead of the destination

A million years ago, my product consulting company had a major gap in how we built tech products for our clients. We kept building products our clients asked us to build instead of the ones their customers actually needed.

We’d spend 3-6 months designing, coding, and launching, only to watch the product crash and burn when their customers rejected it.

The problem was, we didn’t understand the problem the product was intended to solve.

Our process gap festered for the first several years in business. Then one day, we learned about a product discovery framework from Google called a Design Sprint.

Even within the first sprints we ran, we noticed that many of our process gaps had been resolved. As a result, we became fast and furious evangelists of the framework.

With sprints in our toolkit, we were now able to ship successful products for our clients. We were also pioneers within the product and design industry. As such, we became known as the de facto Design Sprint company.

My only job for two years was to write content, host webinars, and speak at events to talk about our experience with Design Sprints.

If you wanted a design sprint or wanted to learn about them, other than Google themselves, you came to New Haircut. As a result, sales were up. But not nearly as much as they should have been.

The problem is that all of my content was about the framework itself. How it worked. What would happen before and after. How we improved the process.

But the only people that cared about the inner workings of a design sprint were us. Our clients, busy leaders managing teams of people and a portfolio of products, only cared about the results.

Could we help them increase revenue?

Could we help them save costs?

That’s all that mattered. HOW we did it was our problem.

The lesson

During the boom of Design Sprints, I estimate that I cost New Haircut eight figures (yes, 8) in lost opportunity by talking about the process instead of the results.

In the end, my audience didn’t want to hear about the journey. They wanted to hear about the destination.

Not the climb, but the peak.
Not the effort, but the outcome.
Not the strategy, but the success.

You get it.

Luckily, at one point, I discovered a simple concept that transformed my ability to sell anything: Alex Hormozi’s value formula.

The formula was one of many nuggets inside Alex’s $100M Offers course. I’ve had a printout of it taped to my office wall for three years now. There’s not a week that goes by I don’t leverage it.

The formula and course helped me go deep on “creating offers so good your customers feel stupid saying no,” as Alex puts it.

If you decide to check out the course, you’re in for a TON of value. Did I mention it’s free?

Turns out, Alex thinks about building businesses just like you and I.

It seems to be working well for him. His estimated net worth is $100 million.

8. You’re only selling, when you should also be seeding

When all is said and done, there are two ways to sell: hunting or harvesting.

Hunters sell by prospecting, pitching, and closing new customers.

I tried to hunt for over a decade. The mistake I made was believing it’s the only way to sell.

It got worse when I tried to grit and bear it. It just didn’t vibe for me.

With hunting, it felt like I was on a constant rollercoaster of sell, fulfill, repeat… always chasing the next opportunity.

I lived on the sales rollercoaster for 10+ years

Ultimately, building a business by hunting was a major culprit of my burnout and depression last year.

But because I didn’t have success with hunting, doesn’t discredit it. It’s not wrong. It’s just didn’t feel right.

What does feel right to me and works much better, is to sell like a harvester.

As a harvester, I create offers that help my audience get to know, like, and trust me and my work. As I build more offers, I stack them together into a flywheel.

Most people enter my flywheel by trying out a free or low-cost offer. It gets them in the door by delivering real value in short order.

I help them solve one problem. I research and choose particularly thorny problems that most struggle with — especially at the starting stages.

Once they see I’m able to help, I offer the next step. That might be another free or low-cost offer, or something slightly higher cost.

As I continue to demonstrate expertise and earn their increasing trust, I present additional premium offers; e.g. 1:1 coaching or my Product Bootcamp.

It doesn’t always go from least to most expensive. Each buyer journey is unique to the person and the relationship we develop together.

The lesson

I’m not here to tell you that selling by hunting is a mistake. In fact, had I never hunted, it would have taken me MUCH longer to identify my ICP (ideal customer persona).

All of my hunter-style outreach helped me learn and iterate my offerings much faster than had I jumped right to 100% harvesting.

The mistake was going all in on the wrong method. I listened to the experts and ignored my gut.

And so as I reflect on the mistakes I made growing New Haircut, this time around I’m combining the two.

At any given point, I’m hunting while I’m harvesting:

  • I harvest with daily-ish LinkedIn posts

  • I hunt by connecting / DM’ing people who engage

  • I harvest with deep dive email newsletters

  • I hunt by individually emailing segments of my list

  • I harvest by creating free guides and lead magnets

  • I hunt by doing individual research on how those resources worked

This time around, I’ve found a balance that works for me. Where the outputs of my harvesting fuel my hunting, and vice versa.

I’m gonna wrap this section up because I’m starting to creep myself out with all of the hunting and harvesting talk. But I hope this helped give you some perspective on selling vs seeding.

Wrapping up

There’s a person five years behind where you are today. They’d love to learn from you.

  • You can save them hundreds of hours of mistakes you made

  • You can give them 10, 20, or 30 years of your experience

  • You can unlock breakthrough ideas for them

  • You can point out their blindspots

  • You can transform them

And you think you’re being salesy by packaging that into a course that costs $150??!

I hope you know by now that’s bullshit.

You’ll need to work really hard. You’ll need to give as much as value as you can. But then you MUST put your ideas out into the world.

Let your audience decide if it’s worth their hard-earned money. If they reject it, try again. Ask them for feedback. Make it better.

Whatever you do, don’t hide your gifts because you’re afraid of what they might think. Even if they don’t buy it, you’ll be much better equipped to create and sell the next thing.

This is how it works, as long as you don’t quit.


Practicing what I preach

I’m selling a thing!

I’ve been working really hard to create something I WISH I had when I built my toolkits.

The Product Bootcamp is 6-week accelerator to help you build the right idea into your online business — with my dedicated coaching throughout.

Space limited to 2 Founder-Creators per sprint. Apply today.

Founder-creator corner

🧑‍💻 Learn how Kevin Powell built an online education business of 1M true fans.

🎙️ The Small Biz Tips podcast hosted me to talk online business building.

🪴 Passive Profits community

Welcome Josephine, Vicki, Sam, Pierre, Jana, and 28 more founder-creators who joined us this week. Our little community has grown to 273.

🎯 Help me hit my goal of 1,000 subscribers by Feb 29

Jay Melone
Founder, Passive Profits
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