You may dislike Donald Trump for all of his condescending or pompous remarks. You may love Trump for his business books, casinos, hotels, leadership speaking events or The Apprentice television show.
Love him or hate him, you have to admit, Donald Trump can SELL!
In fact, if you’ve been watching the Republican debates, listening to him on news interviews, or even reading his tweets on Twitter, “The Donald” has been (unintentionally) giving us business owners a free clinic for several months now about how to sell.
For those of us selling products and services using the Internet, we can use everything he’s been teaching and apply those lessons to starting or expanding our businesses.
Here are five specific techniques related to online selling that I’ve picked up along the way while observing Donald Trump on the campaign trail. They are:
- Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak – Donald Trump is the ultimate master of selling what needs to be done to “make America great again,” without telling us exactly how he plans to make it happen. I haven’t heard a newscaster yet that seems to understand why he takes this approach. Instead they attempt to justify his general replies and sidestepping the questions as “not telling us his plan because he doesn’t have one.”
Obviously, newscasters have never had to write sales copy to sell a product or pitch a service to a potential customer or they would understand the reason why Trump (Cruz, Rubio, and Bush included) do not ever provide us eager-to-listen U.S. citizens with an actual step-by-step detailed action plan during the presidential campaign.
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We say we want to hear their exact plans. But, most of us are not going to make our voting decisions based on exactly what those plans are. In reality, the opposite would be true. The first to reveal one’s true plan loses. Any politician attempting to fill our minds by verbalizing 45 detailed steps of anything in a 60-second response will turn away his followers faster than an Iowa ice storm on caucus day!
Think about your most recent car purchase. Did you ask for the engine to be disassembled so that one of the mechanics could show you step-by-step how the gasoline moves through the fuel injection system and converts energy into the pistons so that the timing belt rotates to create power so the transmission can push the car forward?
Of course not! You eliminated all of the car models that were too expensive for your price range. Then, you said, “I’ll consider any car of this model that’s not (add whatever color you despise). Let’s test drive it and see how I like it.”
When you are in the car for the test drive, you might be looking at how many cup holders there are and what kind of fancy techie gadgets are included. But, you and I both know what you’re really thinking. You are imagining how you will “feel” when you drive down the street in your new car!
The lifestyle of “Making America Great Again” is what Donald Trump is trying to paint for you in his campaign. He’s not going to reveal any step-by-step plan because he will lose voters just like we lose sales by dominating our sales copy with features instead of benefits.
Sell the benefits without dwelling on the features.
Showcase Popularity – Why does Donald Trump mention his leading in the polls so often? Because he knows people like to be part of something that’s popular.
Carly Fiorina and Mike Huckabee have finally started to tell newscasters how they’re getting larger sized crowds at their in-person meetings than earlier in their campaigns and winning-over the people they meet. But, it’s too little too late.
Donald Trump already had an established outlet to reach millions of people on day #1 of his campaign launch. All other candidates were playing catch-up in the category of showing their popularity.
Trump boasted his popularity right from the start, too. Most people believe he’s just “tooting his own horn,” but I believe there’s more to the story. Mr. Trump simply knows that popularity sells. He will get more followers simply because so many others are favoring him in the polls.
We shouldn’t be so surprised at this reality when it comes to selling online. Books with the most reviews on Amazon often get the purchase over their competitors. Service companies with the most Yelp reviews get the phone calls. Websites with the most Google reviews (among other attributes) get higher search results positions than websites with no Google reviews at all. Sales pages for conferences or workshops feature boatloads of testimonials. Barbecue sauces with the most public awards and YouTube videos at outdoor festivals get the purchase.
Sell the popularity of your products and services.
Be First – Have you noticed how all of the other candidates have been followers to Trump on every topic that’s on the top of our American minds? We’ve all heard the topic of immigration before. But, it was Trump who took the stage first on the topic by promising to “build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it.”
Just last night during the final Republican debate, where Donald Trump refused to participate due to his hatred for FOX News anchorwoman, Megyn Kelly, I heard two candidates admit they would build a wall or fence if they were elected President.
But, none of the candidates will gain any followers now by making immigration reform promises because Trump was the first one to claim that turf.
There is a bit more to this story as well. Not only is Mr. Trump the first to introduce a topic, but he’s also the first to offer an overall solution to the problem in a way that has not been brought up before as an option. We see this over and over again in his campaign:
- Build a wall…but have Mexico pay for it.
- Rebuild bridges…but for a fraction of the cost.
- Protect America…by banning all Muslims from entering the country.
I don’t want to list too many of his specific causes or suggest any of them are right or wrong. And, this post is certainly not about my political views. Please don’t get sidetracked from the true meaning of this post.
I want you to see how he’s selling himself to the public for becoming President of the United States and how you and I can apply those sales tactics to improve the sales of our products and services. Whether I support him or not is definitely not the focus here.
What is important is that you see how he strategically introduces a “hot topic” and then provides a one-liner, easy-to-understand, solution to the problem…in a way that no other candidate has offered.
Business instructors will always tell you to “Define your unique selling proposition.” I think there’s more to it than that. Trump has shown us that whatever you create in a product or service needs to offer something so different that your competition doesn’t even attempt to compete with you.
Position your product or service so that it’s seen as the first of its kind and all of your competitors will simply be playing catch-up.
Be a Celebrity – I mentioned earlier that Donald Trump had a pretty easy outlet for launching his candidacy. He’s been a television and conference celebrity for many years. Ronald Reagan had the same quality when he campaigned for President.
With the growth of YouTube videos and the development of high quality video technology in cameras and cell phones, anyone can become a celebrity.
All you have to do is present your product or service in front of a camera while standing at the bottom of a sledding hill and have someone ride an innertube down the hill and smash into you while you’re talking. One nice backflip into the snow and you have a very likely viral video on your hands. You’ll get 2 million views within a few weeks. And, with any luck, you’ll be featured on CNN as the viral video of the day! Instant celebrity! Of course, you’d have to survive the hit from the innertuber.
I used that example tongue-in-cheek, of course. Creating a video in a way that can be predicted it will go viral is a very difficult thing to do. What is predictable, however, is that you are an actor whether you like it or not. You act every day. You put on a happy face even when things are not going so smoothly. You go to networking events and display confidence in your company, even when your employees might have a rift with each other this week. You act like you forgot your spouse’s birthday and then surprise her with an amazing present to show you remembered.
People like to buy from celebrities. So, figure out ways to become a celebrity in your industry. Join associations where your customers are members, for example. Attend the association meetings. Sponsor their events if you can find sponsor fees within your budget. Become the go-to person in your niche. Use video to showcase your personality and commitment to your industry. Be the celebrity face and your competition will have trouble keeping up with you.
Be Visible – I saved this one for last, because, in my 20 years of working with business owners, authors and, surprisingly, even professional speakers, I’ve found the desire and willingness to “be visible” as the most difficult for people to embrace.
Let’s face it. Most of us want to be hermits. We want to work from home instead of going to an office every day. We text messages on our phones instead of using the phone to call people. The in-person meeting has all but vanished from our common practice as most of us established in our professions will charge a consulting fee if someone invites us out for coffee to “pick our brains.”
Yet, we genuinely want our businesses to grow and sales to increase, but we want that success to come without being visible to the public. Donald Trump knows being visible is one of the keys to attaining big success numbers.
You’ve probably heard the saying that, “People buy from people they know, like and trust.” I’d like to add-on to that saying by suggesting, “People buy from people they know, like, trust, and recognize.”
If I tell you to go see the new Star Wars movie, for example, because it’s the best of the series so far. Would you? Maybe. But, imagine if you got a phone call like this from a friend:
“Yo! Buddy! Drop everything you’re doing and meet me outside and I’ll pick you up in ten minutes! You have to go with me to see the new Star Wars movie….TONIGHT, because Harrison Ford is my uncle and he’s visiting me today and wants to take me and a friend to see the movie!”
If anyone you didn’t know personally called you with that kind of invitation, you’d probably hang up the phone thinking you were getting scammed…no matter how amazing the offer might seem. I know I would!
Here’s the difference. A demand for action from a friend carries with it visual proof. You have seen your friend before in person. You have gotten to know that person over time. There is a much higher probability you will respond favorably to a suggestion made by a friend than a stranger you’ve never met.
When talking to friends on the phone, reading text messages or receiving emails, we visualize that person in our mind. Being visual will help you bridge the gap between stranger and friend. Without it, you will always be a stranger. And, that makes your task of selling much more difficult.
Donald Trump has provided us with great lessons in being visual. Everyone remembers his hair. Sometimes television personalities will comment on his tan. He’s always well dressed. But, even further, is his commitment to being present verbally. Not a day goes by without him calling-in to some radio or television program to supply his thoughts on another candidate or issue.
What is preventing you from being the visible person you need to be so that you will be remembered visually by your audience and potential and existing customers?
Some business owners have told me they refrain from engaging with social media or having their face on video because they’re afraid of being stalked by online predators. If that is a concern, remember that actors have stage names. Writers have pen names. If you’re so worried for your safety or the well being of your family as a result of your becoming visible online, why not develop a different name and persona for yourself to be used for business?
Most are held back from their true business possibilities because they’re afraid of public speaking or simply lack skills in this area. The surprisingly simple solution is to turn that fear into a LOVE for speaking and giving presentations. Joining a vibrant Toastmasters club in your area can help with that. As an active member, you will soon forget there was ever a day where you were afraid to speak in front of a group. Instead, you’ll look forward to the opportunity.
Others hide behind their self-proclaimed lack of technological aptitude and refuse to learn new skills. Using a cell phone to produce a no-budget video and then uploading the video to YouTube is a good example.
One of my favorite sayings from my long-time friend in the speaking world, Joe Sabah, is “You don’t have to be good to start, but you have to start to get good.” This saying can be applied to everything in this post, especially to being visible.
Whether you need to produce video, write more blog posts like I’m doing here, speak on stage at networking groups or conferences, or serve as a guest on radio, getting good at becoming visible begins with hitting the start button. You will produce higher quality output as your skills and experience evolve.
Donald Trump has produced amazing results for his presidential campaign because he has worked in television for many years. He’s been featured in hundreds, maybe even thousands, of interviews and spoken in front of crowds towering 50,000 in attendance! And, of course, through his campaign, Trump has reached into the millions of live viewers’ homes during his debate participation.
Clearly, there is no possible way Donald would have such popularity at the polls, or in business, if he was to not embrace the tactic of being visible.
How Will You Sell Like Donald Trump
in Your Business?
To sum up this analysis of five sales tactics Donald Trump is teaching the world about sales through his 2016 presidential campaign, you have to admire his jump to the lead in the polls and ability to continue that position to this day.
You may not be a Trump campaign supporter, but don’t be so quick to discard his possibility of becoming the Commander in Chief for our country either.
The only outcome we can be certain of, at this point in the election year, is that Mr. Trump has gained his popularity by being continuously visible and playing off his celebrity status. But, he is nowhere near an overnight success story. Donald has achieved his fame and fortune over a period of many years. He learned the importance of being first several years ago as well, while building his real estate empire.
How will you use the Trump tactics described in the message above to further your sales efforts? Add a comment to this post and proclaim your new vision publicly to the world! Sometimes verbalizing your commitment, and broadcasting it, is the only way to get new ideas solidified in your own mind and launched. Just be sure to “sell the sizzle, not the steak.”