My husband Carl makes a tasty beef stroganoff, cleans the kitchen after cooking, is an attentive listener, and when asked, will give his opinion. He also sells used cars. Of course, you would expect that the company where he’s employed – BMW – would come up with a classy name for its used car salesmen. They are known as client advisors. And the cars aren’t called used; they are pre-owned. During his first weeks at BMW, Carl still had a lot to learn about each feature of the cars in stock, but even so, he was praised. His ability to engage with customers was appealing to the management. He’d also sold a number of cars, and one of his clients invited both of us to his annual Christmas party.
As authors with books, we can learn from client advisors. True, what each of us really wants is to sell is a 328i or a romance novel. But the manner in which we do our selling is key to staying credible and authentic in a society that is filled with irritating sales folk. Plenty of authors push their paperbacks as though they are better than immortality. This can be exhausting for the customer. The real question to ponder is, do you care about your readership? Does it show?
The other day I read a post on a business blog, promoting a particular author. This blogger was impressed with the author for the way in which he responded to email messages. “He is quick to write back, unlike typical authors.” I read between the lines: Unlike most authors, who either don’t respond, or take forever to do so, this author cares. Write to him. You won’t be wasting your time.
I know one thing: I don’t want to be that author who neglects her audience. I want to be like the salesman at Lowe’s, who claims, “In the fourteen years that I’ve been a salesman, I’ve always made it a point to meet my customers’ needs first. It’s not about selling what I want them to buy, but finding out what meets and suits their needs.” His customers
even followed him when he transferred to another store in town.
In a similar fashion, my sister-in-law, a massage therapist, asks her newsletter subscribers for their advice. “Tell me how I can make your experience better,” she writes. She wants her readers to lead enhanced lives, offering details about workshops she’s attended that have helped with her mental and physical health. She’s looking at the whole person, not just that they get their muscles taken care of by her.
In their book, The Heart of Marketing: Love Your Customers and They Will Love You Back, authors Judith Shervin and Jim Sniechowski are more interested in creating a relationship than closing a sale. They use the soft-sale approach to marketing products and services as opposed to the bottom-line driven method. Much recognition has been given to them as they lead others in this heart-inspired style of doing business.
As you market your books, don’t be so focused on the sale, but on the buyer. Naturally, you want him to buy a book or two (how about ten?), but there is more to life than your book. You can tell him how helpful the book is with its tips on collecting butterflies or growing petunias. Or for a novel, you can tell of its merit due to reviews you’ve received – how others have found it enjoyable. But if you are vain, prideful, or snotty, you can turn customers off. Listen to those who come to your book signings. Engage in their thoughts and comments about what makes them tick. Let it be about them, and they will remember how good you made them feel. Follow this rule of the heart and watch your readership grow.
You, too, can become a caring client advisor!
Alice J. Wisler loves it when her husband cooks dinner so that she has more time to create characters for her Southern novels. While she feels everyone would benefit from reading about Ducee and her pineapple chutney-making rituals (RAIN SONG), bandana-wearing Jonas and his swinging wrench (HOW SWEET IT IS), and Aunt Sheerly’s enthusiasm for winning the Kitty Hawk song competition (HATTERAS GIRL), her children remind her that there is more to life than her novels published by Bethany House. However, she’s sure they wouldn’t mind if you ventured to her website to read more, sign up for her newsletter, or comment on her blog: http://www.alicewisler.com.