The Real Way to Create a Sense of Urgency in Your Sales Conversations

Creating urgency for your product or service isn’t about telling people there’s a limited time to buy. It’s not about how many seats are left in your workshop. It’s not about an early bird discount or an arbitrary deadline.

Urgency is about need.

If you want people to feel a sense of urgency for buying your product or service, you need to know why they need it now.

You've been thinking about urgency all wrong

People don’t need things now because they’d might like to learn more about what you teach. They don’t need things now because they’re pretty or you’re so excited about them. They don’t need things because they’d like to speak their truth and connect with their inner spark.

People need what you’ve created now because they’re ending a 10-year relationship and want to be intentional about what they’re creating next. They need it now because they’re sick and tired of opening their closets and not having a clue what to put on their bodies. They need it now because they wake up every morning still feeling exhausted and they’re beyond ready to make a change. They need it now because they’re completely over holding back their ideas in meetings and watching others take credit for their work.

Urgency is absolutely the key to selling more of what you’re putting out into the world.

But it’s not based on numbers or time. Sure, those things help people make a decision. Ultimately, however, people buy now because they’ve reached a point of no return. They can’t help but search for a solution to their need and start using the one they find.

Listen. Observe. Know why people need what you’ve made now.

Then tell them you understand. Tell them the stories you know are playing out in their lives right now. Show them the vision you have for them and how your product will take them from the urgency their already feeling into a brand new day.

Create a sense of urgency by respecting your customers’ needs and they’ll respond by buying—now.

Do You Have a Sandwich Problem?

Vision plus hustle doesn’t equal results.

Every day I see business owners with lofty visions and hardcore hustle fail to get traction and reach their goals. They’ve got big ideas and aspirations and they’re putting in lots of hours, but growth is stalled.

If that sounds familiar, you’re in good company. This problem is something that micro, small, large, and even enterprise businesses run into.

Do you have a sandwich problem in your business?

Nilofer Merchant, in her book The New How, defines this problems as an “Air Sandwich.” She writes:

An Air Sandwich is, in effect, a strategy that has clear vision and future direction on the top layer, day-to-day action on the bottom, and virtually nothing in the middle — no meaty key decisions that connect the two layers, no rich chewy center filling to align the new direction with new actions within the company.

In your business, this likely manifests as feeling out of touch exactly how your hustle translates into results. You feel a little (or a lot) fuzzy about what you should be focusing on and what really counts. You spend quite a bit of time seeing what “works” but what works doesn’t seem replicable, sustainable, or capable of building true momentum.

To solve your sandwich problem, you need to commit.

Strategy, as I explain in my newest book, is all about making decisions. And decisions require you to say “yes” to one thing, and “no” to something else. They require you to commit to a direction and plan of action.

Between vision and hustle are the strategic decisions you make about What You Want to Create and How You Want to Connect with customers. These are things you try willy nilly, they’re things you commit to, lean in to. They guide your day-to-day action and bring your business closer to its goals.

If you’re feeling like your business has a sandwich problem, ask yourself where you’ve been avoiding commitment.

Where are your opportunities to make key decisions about how to reach your goals, not just what you need to do on a daily basis to stay afloat?

And what’s been keeping you from making a commitment to a more productive direction?

“Look At Me” Versus “Look At You”

This marketing strategy lesson took me forever to learn.

Once I did, everything became easier. Product development was easier. Marketing was easier. Sales was easier. Heck, even management was easier.

It might be the number one mistake I see idea-driven, passionate business owners making. It’s the main thing that keeps them from having productive sales conversation or gaining real traction with their marketing efforts.

And, it’s a major contributor to time wasted.

Your differentiating factor isn't the compelling reason to buy. But the benefit of your differentiating factor likely is.

What is it? It’s a focus on “look at me” instead of “look at you.”

It’s natural to feel like you have to prove to your prospects that your business is the best solution for them. So you list credentials, you talk up the merits of your book, program, or product, you go on & on about the quality of your materials. But all that misses the point.

People don’t buy because what you do is awesome.

People buy because it makes them feel awesome.

(Whatever the unique brand of awesome is that you’re selling.)

Here’s the painful example from my own business: for years, I tried to prove that everything I did in my business was deeper, more substantive, more foundational than what everyone else was teaching. And, I tried to convince people that that was what they really needed: deeper, more substantive, and more foundational strategy.

They weren’t buying. I mean sure, I had a calendar of full of clients, people read my books, etc… but it wasn’t easy. I was working too hard for every new prospect and every sale. Traction was elusive.

Then I figured it out. The reason people bought (literally) into my work wasn’t because it was more substantive, it was because…

  • My quest to go deeper in my work mirrored their quest to go deeper in their own work.
  • My need to figure out why things worked helped them avoid getting sucked into the marketing advice vortex.
  • My ambition to continually pursue a more complete understanding of my subject matter meant that they could relax.
  • And, finally, my focus on strategy over formulas meant they could make more money, work less, and impact more people without constantly having to rely on new tricks or tactics.

What matters to my people is: their own work, their own time & space, their sanity–and the big ones, more money, less work, and more impact. Is that what matters to you?

That’s why people buy. My customers buy not because what I offer is awesome (and it is) but because it makes them feel awesome.

The Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development says your differentiating factor isn’t the compelling reason to buy. But the benefit of your differentiating factor likely is.

If you’ve been following along with my CreativeLive bootcamp, Build a Stand-out Business, you’ve likely been spending a lot of time thinking about what the differentiating factor (your Unfair Advantage, your voice, your vision, etc… ) is for your business. Don’t stop there.

Don’t stop until you know how your differentiating factor leads your customers to more money, more time, better relationships, better health, etc… If you can’t boil it down to a simple, tangible benefit like that, you’re not done. What your customers truly care about is quite simple.

You have to listen to what people really want. You need to use their words, not yours. And, when the benefit they really want (more money, more time, better relationships, better health, etc…) sounds like what “everyone else is offering” push past your discomfort with that. In many ways, what you’re offering is the same as what everyone else is offering. Embrace that. Then use your unique process, point of view, voice, or advantage to differentiate.

When you push past the discomfort that what everyone else is selling is exactly what you’re selling too, you can finally get to a place where leveraging your difference really comes in handy.

Don’t tell people about what they’ll learn by working with you, tell them what they’ll be able to do differently and how that ultimately creates the benefit they desire. Don’t tell people about the quality and craftsmanship of your product, tell them how they’ll feel when they use it and how that leads to the core benefit they’re after.

Start with the “Look at you:”

  • You feel more energetic and have better relationships with your kids.
  • You feel more professional and speak out more in meetings–you really earned that raise.
  • You feel more confident, put out a great offer, and doubled your revenue.

Now, in each of these scenarios, the solution that made this happen (your solution) isn’t the first thing the customer has tried. They’ve been scratching this itch for quite a while, possibly their whole lives. This is where your differentiating factor comes in.

Add the “Look at me” to show why your solution is different:


“Look at you” marketing strategy can change the very way you do business.

Take a look at your website, your social media, your sales copy. Is the emphasis on how great your product or service is? Or is the emphasis on the simple but profound benefit your customers are actually looking for? My guess is there’s a lot more of the former and a lot less of the latter.

Make adjustments accordingly. Then reap the benefit.

How to Market Your Business When You’d Rather Be Listening More Than Talking

Some of us have the gift of gab. Others have an aptitude for acuity.

For those who would rather be listening, taking it all in, and gathering information, marketing your business can seem especially challenging. The same old tactics that work for those who have no problem talking, broadcasting, and sharing what they do openly, don’t necessarily work for those who actually connect best with others quietly.

While challenging, marketing actually holds a huge opportunity for listeners.

When you market your business as a listener, you can show your customers you really understand them, see them, and have the ability to help them.

How to market your business when you'd rather be listening more than talking

Marketing is connecting.

Marketing does not equal promotion. Of course, reading most information on marketing today, you’d never know that. Marketing is a nuanced and complex aspect of business—but it boils down with making connections with prospective customers, nurturing those connections into relationships with your brand, and then formalizing that relationship with a sale.

We all have different ways of connecting. Some people do really well on stage or at a networking event. Others do really well telling stories or relating one-to-one. As a listener, you have a unique set of conditions for connection.

Me? I’m an observer. I’d actually prefer to watch and listen, instead of participating. I observe until I have something to say; and, when I finally do have something to say, I prefer to do it with a platform—a stage, an email list, an interview. I pretty much hate not being in charge. #truestory

You might do really well in personal, intimate exchanges. You might take more of a therapist’s role, asking probing questions and formulating your insights over time. Or you might intuitively perceive the situation and be able to respond quickly.

This quality of listening and gathering substance is what Sally Hogshead calls Mystique, one of the 7 triggers of fascination in the Fascination Advantage System.

In the year I’ve been testing my clients using Sally’s system, I’ve noticed that at least 1/3 of the people I work with test high for Mystique. That means that they carefully curate their communication, are highly observant, and tend to work independently. They read between the lines, maintain composure when things get intense, communicate with purpose, and find insight where others don’t.

Sally writes, “Mystique [personalities] might not dominate the conversation, but they can dominate the winner’s circle.”

Does that sound like you? I can assure you you’re in good company.

Marketing is listening, too.

The key to creating compelling marketing as a listener is to actually put all that great listening and perception to good use.

Mirror back your customers’ experiences. Acknowledge their pain or frustration. Reflect back to them their sincere aspirations. And do this anywhere you want to show up: Facebook, your blog or email list, Instagram, your sales pages, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc….

Demonstrate that you’ve been listening.

In many ways, marketing as a listener is about (creating and) holding space. When you market as a listener, you’re creating a container for others experiences. Your website, your social media, and the experiences you create can each hold space for how your customer is experiencing the world.

Heather Plett (who may or may not appreciate me making this connection) recently wrote about holding space—in a listening-as-marketing blog post that went completely viral:

A wise space holder knows when to withhold guidance (ie. when it makes a person feel foolish and inadequate) and when to offer it gently (ie. when a person asks for it or is too lost to know what to ask for).

What you do as a marketer should empower the people you’re marketing to. The solutions you create should allow your customers to trust themselves. The sales conversations you enter into—whether leveraged through email marketing or made intimate through one-to-one conversation—should give your customers the power.

When your customers feel their own power—and have the space to exercise it—they will be more focused on what you are offering them.

Who are expert listeners-as-marketers?

Danielle LaPorte has amassed a large community of followers by channeling the white hot truth she perceives beyond the inner thoughts of her audience. If you think of her as a digital priestess, it’s because that kind of leadership comes from perception, not control.

Seth Godin posts on his blog every day. But every day, it’s an insight that resonates deeply with the experience of the people who populate his world. His mantra of product development—“Here, I made this for you.”—is a testament to the opportunity listeners have.

Tina Fey (my spirit animal) is also a listener and perceiver. Watch 5 minutes of 30 Rock or The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and you’ll see just how much she’s been listening. Joke after joke, reference after reference, she packs her comedy full of always smart, sometimes wacky perception.

Finally, StitchFix is a great example of a business that uses listening as its key marketing and value proposition. There was a running joke at CreativeLive that anytime someone would ask where part of my outfit had come from it was StitchFix. StitchFix is a personal styling service that sends you 5 items about once a month personally picked for you. You fill out a style profile, link your stylist to your Pinterest board, and send them notes about what you want or need (my recent box was geared to my trip to Cancun next week for What If Conference).

With each box, you give your stylist more feedback so they get better at selecting your pieces. I’ve been incredibly impressed by what I’ve been sent. I feel understood—and a bit challenged. Which has led to some fun new articles of clothing in my closet!

Listening is an advantage.

In today’s commercial era, those who prefer to listen rather than talk are at a distinct advantage. You might not be able to follow all the same “rules” as the talkers, but combine your unique makeup with creative thinking and you have a recipe for truly successful marketing.

The next time you feel pressured to say something about your business, your launch, or your product take a minute to consider what you’ve perceived all this time you’ve been listening and use it to hook the attention of the people who truly matter.


P.S. If you’d like to learn more about marketing your business on your unique strengths (your Quiet Power), check out my bootcamp–Build a Stand-out Business–on CreativeLive. From March 23-April 24, it’s broadcasting FREE. Tune in now!

Why Selling 2 Books Was One of My Biggest Career Victories

On Saturday night, I sold two copies of my new book, Quiet Power Strategy.

And it was one of the single best experiences of my life.

Before starting my company, I managed a Borders Books & Music store. Though that company is now defunct, at the time, they were the 2nd largest bookstore chain in the United States. I managed a store with a $5 million volume and a team of 30-40 employees.

My role as Sales Manager had me overseeing merchandising, human resources, our coffee shop, and the local books & events category. It was my job to purchase books from local authors and plan book signings. While I was working 50-60 hour weeks for $28,000 per year, I dreamed of the day I could be the author instead of the bookseller.

Filling out purchase orders and accounts payable records, I daydreamed about when it would be my book on invoice instead of my signature on the purchaser line.

Saturday, those day dreams came true.

My friend Lisa Reid, who owns Lucy’s Books here in Astoria, Oregon, asked me if I would be the March Author Spotlight when she heard about the impending release of Quiet Power Strategy. When 4:45pm rolled around on Saturday, I gathered up some books and headed downtown.

After about 6 weeks of warm weather and brilliant sunshine, the Pacific Northwest got some “normal weather” for March. It was about 52 degrees and ranging from drizzle to downpour all day. Even though ArtWalk is generally a well-attended event here, noone was overly optimistic.

I sat down at the author’s table and watched about 5 or 6 people walk through the door in the 3 hours I was there. Lisa apologized. It was wholly unnecessary. My dream had come true. I was an author, at an event, at a bookstore. The two books we sold Saturday night represented one of the greatest victories of my career so far.

Quiet Power Strategy at Lucy's Books

Well over 1300 books are out there in the world since the books was released last month (thank you!). And those 2 sales still represent something new and incredibly fulfilling to me.

As the above photo wracked up more & more likes on Facebook and Instagram, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much clear vision, purposeful action, and focused direction helps a business stand out.

It’s not about how loud you shout or what promotional tactics you master. Your voice will get hoarse. The algorithms will change.

Knowing where you’re headed, what you want to create, and how you want to connect with other people leads you to take action that helps your business stand out.


Perhaps more so, each step you take on the path toward those things earns you and your business more respect, visibility, and attention.

If your business is struggling to earn that respect, visibility, or attention… if you’re feeling pulled in a million directions and far from focused or purposeful with your actions… my next CreativeLive workshop can help.

We’ll spend a whole week identifying your vision, declaring your Chief Initiative, and defining the metrics by which you can track your progress.



Here’s what you’ll learn in 25 FREE lessons over 5 weeks in Build a Standout Business:
  • The 8 questions you need to answers as a foundation for standing out naturally.
  • The 2 languages you use to communicate naturally and how you can use them to create more compelling messages.
  • The specific conditions you need to successfully connect with others and what marketing channels to try based on those conditions.
  • How to create a business bio you can be proud of and use to differentiate what you do from everyone else in the market
  • And much, much more…

Again, this bootcamp is completely FREE to watch live and, when you RSVP, you’ll get access to the exclusive course worksheets as soon as they’re available.

I hope you’ll join me starting March 23!

4 People You Need On Your Micro Business Team

What seems like flexibility can turn into isolation. What looks like independence can feel more like quarantine. Business just isn’t a solo act.

If you spend all your time thinking you’re alone in this game, you’ll never take full advantage of the sheer breadth of people available to you. Plus, you’re likely to make the same mistakes over and over again, suffer from the same assumptions, and miss out on big opportunities.

Business is a social act. Click to tweet!

4 people you must have on your team


Your business team might be the single biggest factor in your success.

Whether you have a vision for building a robust, in-house team, or whether you’d prefer to be lean and mean, you need to surround yourself with the right people to get the results you want. You can’t just dig in on your own and wrestle success into being.

In the New Economy, “team” is a distributed concept. Your micro business team isn’t just the people that you pay but everyone who contributes value to your business. Your team is your community, your clients, your colleagues, and your friends.

Take a minute and take stock of who’s on your team, how they’re a part of your business, and what value you’ve received from them in the past. Then, consider whether you have these 4 absolutely essential people on your team.

…And where you could find them if you don’t.

Someone to Show You Your Unique Contribution

When you’re in your own head, it’s hard to tell that what’s going on in there is probably different than what others have going on in their heads. Take Natasha Vorompiova, creator of Systematic Success and one of our Quiet Power Strategy™-certified coaches. Last summer she made an off-hand remark about being able to run your whole business (project management, CRM, etc…) in Evernote.

As an Evernote addict myself, I said, “Woah, woah, woah. You can’t stop there. You must explain.”

She started to lay it all out, bit by bit. Allow me to speak for the group listening when I say our minds were blown.

She capped it all off by saying that she’s beginning to realize that most people don’t look at apps and tools and think, “How could I use this to simplify my business?”

No, Natasha, we do not. We think about adding, we think about fitting it in, we think about getting it to do 1 little thing instead of 100 big things.

We all have unique things to contribute. We all have a different way of seeing the world. We all have different strengths and ways that we’re effective. But we take them for granted. Our unique contribution colors everything we see.

You need someone in your corner to regularly point out your unique value to you. Sometimes she’s a boss, a business partner, or a colleague. He could also be an employee, even a contractor. Other times it’s your community.

People all around you are likely pointing out your unique contribution. But you’re not listening. You’re not hearing them when they describe in detail the unexpected way you solved that problem or the surprising way you handled a tough situation. Listen. Own it.

Someone Who is Making It Happen

Do you have business owner friends who are just trying to get ahead? Or do you have business owner friends who are making things happen? Too often, the people I talk to have friends who are all hustling and going nowhere fast.

It’s not that you should only spend time connecting with successful people. It’s that, if you don’t intentionally connect with successful people, there’s a good chance you’re missing a big piece of the puzzle.

Everyone you add to your business team who is making it happen has something they can demystify for you. While their answers may not be your answers, their stories can help you connect dots you wouldn’t have connected on your own. You can find your way more easily, even without copying their plan.

Sometimes these people are the contractors we hire. They’re experts in their fields and they can help you learn the ropes. Other times, they’re the coaches we hire. Their experience can provide a foil for your own. Still other times they’re our friends, colleagues, or people in our mastermind groups.

Trying to figure it out with a group of friends or employees can be helpful, but gaining knowledge from the experience of someone who’s been there, succeeded at that, is priceless.

Someone Who Complements You

Look, you’ve got strengths and you’ve got weaknesses. I have strengths and weaknesses. The beautiful thing is that there is someone out there who believes in your vision as much as you do who has the opposite strengths and weaknesses. That person should be on your team.

Recently, I hired my mother to manage projects, monitor communication, and create systems in my business. In the Fascination Advantage system, I am Power + Prestige, she’s Alert + Trust. In Myers-Briggs, I am INTP, she’s ISFJ. In English, that all means that I’m a big picture creator who performs best when I’m on stage and in charge. She’s a detail-oriented caretaker who performs best when she’s making all the puzzle pieces fit together.

She complements me.

Don’t try to be something you’re not. That’s what your business team is for. Whether they work for you or create value for your business more casually, find people who complement you.

Someone Whom You Can Trust With Responsibility

You are not your business. Even if you’re operating a one-woman show, you are not your business.

You need to be able to hand off responsibility. It’s not enough to outsource a task or try to fill in the blanks on a big project. You need to let go to succeed.

If the people on your business team can’t be trusted with true responsibility (the ability to create value for your business without your constant intervention), you’ll never feel like you’re getting ahead.

If you’re not at the stage of bringing on actual team members, think about what you’d like to let go of—not just because it’s annoying or time-consuming but because it’s not something you need to do. Consider creative ways to trust others (or tools or applications) with that responsibility. And if no creative solutions exist, make a plan and benchmarks for bringing a business team member on board.

You can’t get ahead without support. Whether you choose to invest in a program like Quiet Power Strategy™, a contractor or employee, or your community, make team-building a priority for your business this year.