In her workshop "Building Your Business Using the Enneagram," Valerie Atkin of Wells Street Consulting pointed out that selling has gotten a bad rap, as reflected in such clichés as "being sold down the river" or "selling out." Actually, effective selling is improving things, helping people, accomplishing goals, creatively addressing what's missing, sharing and synthesizing knowledge, anticipating what might go wrong, inspiring clients to satisfy their vision, helping them stay on course, and collaborating to meet their needs.
In case you didn't detect an Enneagram thread in the above, re-read the "Actusally, effective selling" sentence and you'll see how Val encourages all personality styles to acknowledge and use their strengths when marketing their services. And, given her many years of experience with companies of all sizes as a consultant, trainer, and coach, Val—an Enneagram style Three—knows her territory.
In one of Val's IEA conference workshops, I discovered another stroke of marketing luck for me as style Nine and for other introverted personalities, the subtle strength of passive marketing: writing articles or books that attract clients and, especially, a web site that sells itself. I say it was a stroke of luck because when I started my web site in 1998, I thought of it only as educational, showing others how to use the Enneagram in business, and as a venue for me to write online articles and case studies. But some of what I wrote there ended up in my coaching book and, as I gradually moved into phone coaching, the site began to attract clients.
A few years ago I hired someone with expertise in coaching, Internet technology, and marketing to help me fine-tune my web offering. He helped me see myself, what distinguishes me from other coaches, and how to make the most of my strengths. He had published three highly successful books focused on pure technology for techies, and took the same “keep it simple" approach to show small business owners how to leverage today's Internet to better market and sell themselves.
As an Enneagram style Six, he was the ultimate partner. I felt absolutely safe in his hands because even though I’m confident he knows a hundred times more than I’ll ever know in his areas of expertise, he gave me practical information I could act on without feeling bogged down in technical details. Among the many ways his coaching helped me refresh my site, I learned how to search competitor's pages for their "metatags;" where to get free or low-cost, high quality photos and graphics; how to use key words; and how to upgrade with my server so I have instant site statistics at my fingertips. I was able to keep track of number of daily visitors, how long they typical stayed, and on what pages, so I could make sure those pages attracted browsers to explore in more depth.
The home page message to potential clients, I learned, needs to be short, clear, and simple: “What is it, why do I want it, and where do I get it?” Like many of you, it wasn’t easy for me to state concisely what I do and how that’s different from other coaches (part of the “why do I want it?” message). He provided the mirror. And he knew how to gently guide me when I was leaping off in the wrong direction.
Many people still use their sites as “place holders,” glorified business cards where people can look them up and get contact information. Or their home page consists of a treatise about everything they've ever known, with no quick highlights or easy-to-scan information. Research on eye movement when reading web pages shows consistently that people don't read text thoroughly and they scan for subheadings that stand out. So if browsers don't know you already, you have only seconds to get their attention.