The “Always Be Closing” Attitude Turns You Into a Tacky Infomercial Marketer – Here’s a Saner Alternative

June 2, 2020 ​- 38 Comments

​"Always be closing" is a common platitude in sales & marketing. Maybe you've been explicitly told to follow this motto. Even if you haven't it's implied everywhere. In marketing, it's normal to push hard and do anything to get the sale. 

Shove people into your funnel, smack them over the head with upsell after upsell. Make grandiose claims in your copy. Whatever it takes.

And the defense of these tacky, gross marketing tactics is inevitably: "it works!"

So what if it works? Did you start a business to become a walking infomercial? Or do you want to be able to sell with integrity?

And even if the tacky approach works, that doesn't mean that every other approach ​doesn't​ work.

In this post, I'll show you the motto I've been following, as an alternative to "Always Be Closing".​​​

More...

​The Alternative Motto: “​Never Be Desperate”

​The motto I've followed for my own marketing and sales content is: never be desperate. I never want to beg people to buy something from me, to pay attention to me or to give me validation. And I never want to need to make more sales so badly that I agressively push people down some obnoxious sales funnel.

​An important reason for this is that I just don't want to. I don't want to be that kind of person and I don't want to live my life being desperate, pushy or aggressive.

I also believe that if I ever actually felt despearate, that would be an indication that something's wrong with my business. There are 3 things to look out for, if you ever feel the need to desperately cajole more sales out of your leads:

1) Product-Market Fit

Do you have a highly valuable product? Is the product made to meet the needs of a specific target audience? Does the product deliver on the promise of solving a problem or adding value to someone's life?

If you can answer "yes" to all of the questions above, you never have to be desperate or pushy in your marketing. In other words: product-market fit makes marketing much easier.

If people aren't buying, make sure you have a great product and you're addressing the right people, before trying to push harder.

2) Inbound Marketing vs. Door-to-Door Sales

​In your online business, are you acting like a door-to-door sales person or like an inbound marketer?

The sales person goes out to potential customers, knocks on doors and hope whoever opens the door will be interested in whatever they're selling. This is a pretty outdated way of doing things. But many online marketers apply this same kind of sales approach online.

I choose not to do that. Instead, I choose an inbound marketing approach. Inbound marketing means you make potential customers come to you. You create things people want and/or need and place these things in a stream of existing attention. People find you through search, word-of-mouth recommendations, social feeds etc.

Remember that there's an opportunity cost to everything. So even if outbound sales tactics work, I would rather spend my limited time and energy building an inbound marketing system.

3) Nudge, Don't Push

​Even with a solid inbound marketing system, sales still play a role. When you offer a product, most people will be on the fence, most of the time. Good sales copy will nudge the right people off the fence, towards a buying decision.

To me, this is what I aspire to with sales copy. A bad sales page is one that makes all kinds of overblown promises and desperately tries to push everyone on the fence towards a "yes". It uses hype, deception, fear and manipulation to do so.

A good sales page uses factual, clear communication and above-board persuasion to nudge people towards a "yes" without ever needing to be deceptive.

Online Marketing Doesn't Have to Cost Your Soul

​Frequently, people will remark that my style of selling is refreshingly non-hypey. I've seen many people express a mixture of amazement and relief when they see that a grounded approach like mine can lead to great, profitable outcomes.

I think that a lot of people in the online marketing space feel like they need to emulate the loud-mouthed, overblown and tacky marketing tactics they see all around. They don't want to do it, but they feel like they have no choice.

That's why I made this video. I want to say loud and clear: you can play this game successfully without compromising your values. You can write a sales page that converts well ​and​ that you could show to your grandmother without feeling ashamed.

​Have you felt like you had to make compromises in order to succeed online? What is your take on my "never be desperate" motto? Leave a comment below to let me know!​​​

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.


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  • Great as always, Shane! The look of this video really impressed me. It was really well edited. I’m curious, do you have any videos or articles on how you make your videos? Such as writing, edited, adding clips, etc.?

    Reply

    • Thank you, Chad!

      I don’t have any current content on how we make videos, sorry. I’m currently in an experimental phase with video. Depending on what comes from that, we may end up making some content around what we learnt.

      Reply

  • An observation about the video: It’s great that your team can add a lot of different clips and animations to the video. For my taste, it’s a bit too much. Maybe it’s just me.

    As for the content: That’s why I like buying from you, you’re not pushy. The marketing doesn’t feel fake.

    And thank God you also don’t suddenly start saying, “but now here’s a message from our sponsor of this video, it’s the new ACME yada yada yada which you absolutely need to buy, right now!”

    Reply

    • Thank you for your feedback, Peter!
      It’s crauzy how dense with ads and sponsorship messages many YouTube videos have become. I have no desire to join that game.

      Reply

      • Anil Rajkumar says:

        I loved the videos!

  • Extremely good timing! I was actually talking about this exact point with my husband yesterday, reminding myself about having taken the decision to only sell in a way I was proud of, even if that meant leaving money on the table.

    So, I completely and fully agree with what you said, and it was a great reminder of why this is important.

    But… I didn’t like the video format – at all. It was actually hard to listen to all of it. I hated the excess of stock video footage and the dramatic + uplifting background stock music.

    Your regular (less edited, more authentic) videos are much, much better and trustable. With this one I felt like I was watching a video from one of the gurus we”re avoiding.

    Not to be a hater but I felt it was important to share feedback, because I know you’re always testing things out.

    Anyway, I love your stuff so much that I will continue to watch everything you put out and buy your products and courses, even if you continue to use this video style :)

    Reply

    • carovillah says:

      Yes, I totally agree with Mary. I feel the same, thank you for expressing this so well!

      Reply

    • Thank you for your feedback, Mary! Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy the video style. We’re trying out a lot of new things with video at the moment, so expect to see more “weird” stuff. The message won’t be compromised, though. :)

      Reply

  • Hi Shane,
    great message – thank you so much!
    I absolutely agree with you and that’s the way I go about my business, too.

    But honestly, I feel the same way about your new video format as Mary and Peter. I liked the simpler videos a lot better.

    Reply

  • Hi Shane, it was an excellent video, as usual. But I’m with the other people – it’s not your usual focused style. It had lots of black and dark colors, lots of irrelevant stock video footage, and lots of background music. (It was good video editing, and the sound levels did not overwhelm your voice, but… your usual videos are better! :-) Cheers, Kevin

    Reply

  • Karen M McCamy says:

    Shane,

    As usual, I completely concur! This is one of the reasons you have so many fans! :D As others have said, your marketing is authentic!

    I made a promise to myself something like 8+ years ago that I would never resort to sleazy or what I call “unethical” marketing tactics… And I think this is easier to do if you have a real “greater purpose” to your own business WHY than ‘just make money!’ That’s something that also (perhaps subliminally ?) separates online marketers these days! It’s so easy to see through those whose $$$ is the real motivation!

    In the midst of this pandemic, I see TONS of online ads *constantly* capitalizing on fear and ignorance, & I would NEVER give any of those jerks my money or my time! :-{

    Unlike a few others, I thought your little video add-ins were “cute” as I know you are experimenting with your team in Lisbon! I thought they were fun, but certainly not necessary… I didn’t mind them though! I didn’t think they detracted from your message…maybe just because I’m so familiar with what you always teach! ;-) LoL!

    Always great to hear from you! <3

    Reply

    • Thank you for your comment, Karen!

      Can’t let a good crisis go to waste, right? That’s certainly the attitude among many greedy folks, right now. But it’s also good to see that most people don’t think like that and want to learn better ways to do things.

      Reply

  • I totally agree with you and I wonder how much of our Swiss upbringing has to do with this point of view to never want to be desperate, pushy or aggressive and to always be closing?

    I didn’t mind the many video add-ins at all like others but the background music is not something I enjoy, on the contrary, I find it rather irritating. I usually don’t listen to podcasts or watch videos where there is a constant background music while someone is talking, I did here because I know you always deliver good information. I still hope you will revert back to just you talking :-)

    Reply

    • Thanks for your comment, Conny.

      It’s likely that my Swiss upbringing has influenced my attitude, yes. I think that my period of martial arts training and teaching also influenced me a lot in this regard. Without realizing it at the time, my exposure to martial arts and the cultures around it instilled a set of virture ethics in me that I still carry with me to this day.

      Reply

  • Awesome motto! Yes we the online marketers and sales people must adopt this mindset to thrive. Thanks, Shane!

    Reply

  • Hi Shane,
    The content of this video is outstanding and very valuable as usual. It gives us a great view of how to drive sales. I just want to mention about the video, it doesn’t look your video. Please, don’t get me wrong is fantastically edited, there is nothing wrong, but is totally different from your usual videos. You don’t use this kind of images and backgrounds, music, although the message is great, but I love your usual style. I agree things need to change, but I see a lot of unnecessary distractions here. Of course, you are the expert, and if you think this is the way, this is it. However, I prefer the usual Shane’s style. BTW, see you again in the course.

    Reply

    • Thank you for your feedback, Pablo! We’re trying a bunch of different approaches to video, lately. I know it can be strange to see a sudden style in change, but for me, it’s important to stretch myself and go outside my comfort zone in order to find out what works best and in order to build my skills faster.

      Reply

      • Thank you Shane, for coming back to me.
        As I said, I understand you are testing new things, but in this case, your videos, in the way you talk and present the concepts and ideas, are part of your brand.
        It was by watching to your videos that I created my motto: Make it Simple (and my students love it), and it was you in Craft Course who said: use simple and clear backgrounds for your videos, clear message, remove distractions.
        It’s good to change the logo, the colours, the image, but no identity.
        Identity is like passion. You can change perfume, car, house, even wife (or husband), but you will never change your Rugby Team, it will remain the same, forever.
        I will remain your fan regardless, but I prefer your usual style.

  • Hi Shane,

    I am thinking of launching my course and this is the best piece of advice I could get about promoting it. There’s no doubt, pushy marketing tends to put off a lot of people, including me. You have rightly pointed out that presenting the right product to the right audience is the key to sales.

    Reply

  • Víctor José Manuel says:

    Thanks for the video and article, Shane. That’s the way I feel life to in general.
    Regards,
    Víctor

    Reply

  • Shane,

    I love the message you send here. I don’t care so much about if this idea of “always be closing” conflicts with my business ethics but I simply think it’s also not very wise from an economical standpoint.

    Let me explain: I strongly believe in Jay Abraham’s concept of being the trusted advisor. This – as per my perception – is the way to make it in the long run ( with a lot of other factors like consistency, but I digress).

    What kind of trust can one build if that person always swings the “closing” hammer all the time. Andre Chaperon also describes this as providing value before money changes hands.

    2 remarks:

    1. I don’t like the video style because of the reasons others mentioned before. It’s more enjoyable to see and hear you in your calm and very relaxed style.

    2. I do negotiations day in and day out (working in procurement). I’m convinced that the 6 factors of Influence (search for Cialdini online, his book is a masterpiece) work very well (reciprocity, scarcity, authority, consistency & commitment, liking and social proof). wonder if there’s any one of these six that you would not use in the “never be desperate” approach?

    Reply

    • Great question about Cialdini’s influence framework! I think there’s nothing fundamentally desperate about the 6 factors. It depends more on how you use them.

      The same could be said about closing. I’m not saying “never be closing”. Of course, you have to go for the sale in some form. But like I mentioned in the video, you can do so in a desperate way or in a normal, calm way. I think the same applies to Cialdini’s principles. If you’re desperately trying to give someone stuff in order to create reciprocity and you’re being forced-friendly to get them to like you, that’s desperate and gross. But you can apply these principles in a normal, humane way that isn’t deceptive or grasping. That’s what I’d aim for.

      Reply

  • Hi Shane, I want to thank you about your video and all the content that you offer through different websites, also for the approach that you choose. I know you from thrive themes and I like how do you the things that you . Congratulation and thanks

    Reply

  • Good as always but just totally freaking awesome for those of us who want to build a solid business that brings great good into the world. Thank you for confirming I don’t have to be the pushy care nothing about my customers vultures that I have at times been victimized by and would rather give up my business dream than to do to others.

    Reply

  • Hi Shane,
    A few years ago, thinking about online courses, I read the book of Robert Cialdini about influencing. And also of American authors like the Schreiters, or Areva Martin. I got a bad stomach of it! And decided never to work on my coaching business that way. I left the Dutch platform that looks a bit like TT but that had that same pushing mode you are talking about and happily I founf TT and you. It is exactly your integrity, your dedication and your conviction that helps me to stay on track making a honest online business. That said I agree with a lot of others that you have to be cautious with all the gimmicks that are possible to use in videos. Less is more! Thanks for your investing and inventing but the most for your intention and walk your talk. Keep on going.

    Reply

  • Ultimately it’s a decision.

    I’ve seen this with my own blog recently.

    After adding scarcity based CTA’s (that are not necessarily 100% true) to a range of my blog posts my conversations doubled overnight.

    That’s the problem. The marketing stuff just works (if you do it right).

    It works too well.

    Is it the right thing to do?

    I don’t know. It’s at least borderline.

    But it’s a tough call to leave that much money on the table in a time where most people’s attention span is soo short.

    Reply

  • billybush@gmail.com says:

    Shane! I love the message and definitely important with all the marketing hype you hear these days.

    That being said, how do you feel about upsells, downsells, bump offers, etc.?

    I don’t recall seeing any of those in offers I’ve bought from you which leads me to guess but I’d love to hear if you find a place for that stuff, if you use them at all, and general thoughts.

    Reply

  • Very good article, man. There is some great value here.
    Sales are always a marketer’s focus however we should always focus on the client before even caring about making sales. In fact, Jeff Bezos in various interviews in 2000 and b4 was telling that Amazon is just a customer focused company. Fast forward to today, we all see he was right.
    Anyway, thanks again. Keep it up!
    Stay safe!

    Reply

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