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There are no two ways around it: selling a product does not come naturally to most of us. In fact, the very idea can feel a little slimy. Isn’t it a little weird to try to convince someone to part with their hard-earned money? Who am I to try to take it out of their pocket?

Is this even ethical?

In previous episodes we’ve discussed why you as a business owner need to learn to sell—to sell often, and with confidence. But the whole idea can still be uncomfortable.

These days, we might feel a backlash against consumerism and materialism, and, even though we practice ethical and responsible ways of creating our work, we can’t shake the feeling that we’re still contributing to a problem.

If you create a product, isn’t that just one more “thing” you expect people to burden their lives with?

If these sorts of thoughts are leaving you paralyzed, don’t miss this conversation. We’re going to discuss the difference between creating and selling things that the world could do without, and truly valuable products that enrich the lives of their customers.

Products, sales, money… these are all just tools for the movement of value between human beings. Are they good, or are they bad? It all depends on how you use them.

Links and Resources Mentioned
Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript of the episode was machine-generated and has not been edited for correctness. It’s provided for your convenience when searching. Please excuse any errors.

Dan: [00:00:00] If you’re only willing to charge $5 for this thing, is that because you don’t think it’s really valuable? Because if it’s not really valuable, maybe you shouldn’t produce it. Maybe you should go make something that’s more valuable and then you’ll feel better about selling it. Oh, and by the way, it’ll command a higher price.

You see the, I think these things go hand in hand with each other.

Ben: [00:00:33] Good morning, Dan.

Dan: [00:00:35] Good morning, Ben, how are you?

Ben: [00:00:37] I’m doing fantastic. How are you doing?

Dan: [00:00:40] I’m doing pretty well as well. We’ve, Man hot topic today and, and I’m so I’m diving right into it.

Ben: [00:00:46] Like, like the, the mall store.

Dan: [00:00:49] Yeah. We’re going to talk about that store in the mall called hot topic that, my friends and I used to patronize when we were teenagers.

Ben: [00:00:56] Yeah, I wasn’t, see, I was a, what was the other one? There was hot topic and then there was another one.

Dan: [00:01:02] I don’t remember, cause I was, I was part of the click that would have gone to a hot topic. You were part of the other click.

Ben: [00:01:08] right. Yeah.

Dan: [00:01:10] If we’d been in the same high school, I assume you would’ve shoved me into a locker at some point.

Ben: [00:01:14] PO PO. Yeah, probably. Definitely. I did though. I mean, I think we both belonged to the group of kids who were pants that were several sizes too big for the legs at some

Dan: [00:01:27] Hmm, absolutely. Is this the show.

Ben: [00:01:30] Yeah. So, 

Dan: [00:01:31] We’re already, we’re already off the rails. It didn’t take any time at all.

Ben: [00:01:36] So do you, I mean, in Canada, I can only speak from my experience as a U S citizen. We have this thing called malls where you go and it’s a collection of stores on mult, you know, sometimes on multiple levels. And there’s usually like a, a, what they call a cornerstone store, like a JC Penny’s or something big like that.

And then you’ve got these, these other stores that occupy the main tenant spaces. All right. If you can, if you can kind of picture it in your mind. Do you have Molson Canada?

Dan: [00:02:07] We do. Yeah. The, the corner store is usually the Hudson Bay company, but otherwise it’s the same.

Ben: [00:02:12] All right. Yeah, so you know what I’m talking about. I dunno if that joke’s ever going to get old.

Dan: [00:02:18] the one about how stuff in Canada doesn’t

Ben: [00:02:21] Right? And then in the center, like between the stores in the walking space.

Dan: [00:02:27] There’s a food court.

Ben: [00:02:28] Well, there is, S in the center of the mall. Yes. There’s a food court and there’s like this play area play area for kids. And that, I remember being like, anytime we pass by her, I was like, Oh man, I got to go to that play area.

It looks so fun and cool. And as an adult looking at some of these play areas, I’m like, I don’t know about this.

Dan: [00:02:49] Well, it’s, it’s, I think the differences the kids don’t understand about germs. Ben

Ben: [00:02:55] Yeah. Or, or you know, like maintenance and upkeep, safety, all of those things

Dan: [00:03:00] Right. Cleanliness. Safety. Fun.

Ben: [00:03:03] in between the stores though, in the, in the walking areas, there are kiosks set up for various things and like these kiosk areas, there’s a high rate of turnover because, you know, like w with some of them, because. People really, they’re not there for the kiosk space, but the malls, you know, like they make money off of these little sections in the center.

Like they’re using as much real estate as possible to get money out of people. And

you know, like it’s bad enough you go into the stores. And my, my least favorite question, and I know like I’ve worked retail, so I totally understand. I know how it works, but my least favorite question is. Can I help you find anything today?

I just like, you know, I, I come into your store and

Dan: [00:03:58] on the, on the day of your daughter’s wedding.

Ben: [00:04:01] right. The odds are I’m not actually going to buy something. I’m just hanging out. That’s, that’s the way malls work. And if I buy something, it’s because it’s not because I’m looking for something. It’s not because there’s something specific I was looking for that I wanted to find. It’s because I happened to be at the mall.

I happen to be in your store. I happened to have some extra money and I happened to see this thing that you’ve got on the end cap that it’s like, Oh, I should buy that. Like the little bead necklace thing that I got from, I think it was Spencer’s, that’s what it was.

Dan: [00:04:39] Oh Spencer’s.

Ben: [00:04:41] And so, so as bad as that is like, can I help you find something?

it’s, that’s, that’s not a big deal, but like these kiosk folks,

they, they will stop you, like you’ll be walking through and they’ll, they’ll kind of get in front of you with the product in their hand. They’ll be like, Hey,  they, they have something like. You know, clever or catchy or funny that they’re, that they say to try to get you to look at their product or their thing and, and that, that to me is like an even worse interruption.

These kinds of interactions or part of, of a, what I would call a tapestry of different experiences. And. portrayals that have shaped the way I think about salespeople in general,

which is what we’re talking about today,

Dan: [00:05:41] We’re talking about tapestries.

Ben: [00:05:43] right? No, we’re, we’re talking about,

we’re talking about the ethics. Is it ethical to sell products? Because when I, when I think of, when I think of sales people, it’s really hard for me not to think about. Those experiences and those portrayals and, and not feel like if I become the person who’s trying to sell something to someone else, is that how I look to other people?

I don’t want to look like that.

Dan: [00:06:16] no, no. You don’t. I have it. Neither do I. I, so we’re going to talk about the ethics of selling. I think we’re also going to touch on the ethics of products, right? So, so the title we gave today show is, is it ethical to sell products to consumers? Which seems like such a weird, basic question, but if we’re going to do this show about creating a business, sometimes it’s worth looking at the fundamentals, right?

Like questioning what, what is it we, we even want to do? And is that, I guess when we ask a question like this, is that an okay thing to do?

Ben: [00:06:48] Yeah. So what is, I guess in your mind as we approach this show, what’s the, what do you think is the biggest problem some of our listeners have with the idea of selling products and whether or not it’s ethical.

Dan: [00:07:07] Well, they, the, the topic for this show came from some conversations in the Shaun was community and people are concerned about things like. I think they’re, I think they’re there. What it really comes down to is just this idea that there’s, you know, there’s so much stuff in the world, there is, there’s so much, there’s so much in our lives that we are given incentives to obtain, right?

There’s this idea of consumerism and so like walking hand in hand with how to do sales ethically. I think there’s even the question of if I make a product. Is it even ethical for me to try to, you know, shove it into other people’s lives to put it in a, you know, in the way I think people are afraid of, of thinking, you know, I think people are worried that they are just adding more unnecessary stuff to people’s lives and they’re concerned about that.

Ben: [00:08:06] Yeah. You know, it’s really interesting. I was listening to something that talked about, particularly, particularly in Western culture, this idea of valuing choice and options. And, I think, I think it was actually a, John Oliver bit where he was talking about people’s favorite thing. To watch on Netflix or like their, their favorite way to spend their time on Netflix is scrolling for 40 hours to find the best show to start watching.

And, and the joke, the joke there was like, there are so many choices that it ends up becoming unmanageable. And this is something that I learned early on with, with my kids

as they became. More capable of, of making choices and that kind of thing. It actually stresses them out. I have too many choices

and creates more problems.

Then if I even, you know, just with, without a good specific reason, just limit their choices. So instead of saying, we were at Baskin Robbins and you could have one of these 31 flavors. If I intervene and I say, okay, do you want chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?

Dan: [00:09:38] Then they, they, they go with Neapolitan.

Ben: [00:09:40] Well, and, and this is the thing.

Dan: [00:09:42] Then you get all

Ben: [00:09:43] Those constraints end up clarifying for them what they really want or create a situation where the choice doesn’t create anxiety because they’re not. Worried about missing out on 30 flavors. They’re worried about missing out on too, because I’ve, because I’ve limited their choices.

So anyways, all of that to say we placed a really high value on having lots of choices and the way that, the way that the market responds to that, and I like to think of the market, not as people purposefully trying to create more choices, but just as a natural byproduct of the environment. That we allow our market to grow.

A natural byproduct of the environment we’ve created for our market is that it produces many, many choices, and it makes room for good choices and bad choices.

Dan: [00:10:43] Okay. How does that bear on whether, like for those of us, from our perspective as the creators of products, right, that are going to be offered in that market, how does that bear on the ethics of our doing so?

Ben: [00:10:54] Yeah. So I guess, I guess what I’m trying to do first is I’m trying to empathize with that feeling

Dan: [00:11:00] Hmm.

Ben: [00:11:01] and I’m trying to identify, I’m trying to articulate the problem. That we’re trying to avoid contributing to, if that makes sense. So it’s not, it’s not just that we don’t want to add to the noise, but I think there’s a part of us that recognizes, the legitimate harm that can come from having too many choices and not wanting to add to that.

And so I think, I think something that we’re going to get to later in the show is going to be sort of an answer to that, but I’ll go ahead and and tease it out here. Now I feel like

in in a world where selling has kind of, in some ways become this associated with like slimy in unethical ethical practices and taking advantage of people.

And. you know, like that certainly exists.

I think we’ve conflated the idea of being an excellent salesperson with those qualities, when in fact, I think being an excellent salesperson overcomes those things and helps people have more clarity and focus and the choices they’re making helps them connect there.

No problem. To the correct solution and, in a way that, that helps people rule out stuff and kind of breaks through the noise,

if that makes sense. So, as so we’ll kind of, we’ll kind of get to that, a little bit more here in this show, but I don’t, I definitely don’t think the answer is to take yourself out of the equation.

Especially if you’re the kind of person who cares about making life better for other people who recognizes a problem and has a solution, you’re, you’re not actually adding to the noise. but your ability to, your ability to do a great job selling is part of what helps you.

Dan: [00:13:27] Yeah. It’s, it’s also, it’s also important to make the, make a distinction here because you brought up this idea of the tyranny of choice and, well, the, we’re, we’re not coming at this topic from the perspective of Proctor and gamble and asking ourselves, is it really good for consumers that we have 26 different types of toothpaste in the toothpaste aisle and we’re not coming from the perspective of Netflix or.

a social network like Instagram, whose perspective is how do we dominate people’s free time and attention? Right? There are ethical questions to be asked about that, but you know, for the audience, for us and for the audience of this show, it’s a lot more about. There is a small niche of people that have a particular problem for which we are going to produce the best solution that we can, and then we have to make them aware of the solution and sell them the solution.

Right.  and we want to talk about is that ethical? So, I mean, I think that already, even me just, you know, laying it out that way. I hope that it’s clear. That there’s a world of difference between providing one more tiny commodity to an endless sea of them and the sorts of businesses that the audience of this show are trying to build.

Ben: [00:14:52] Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And, and that’s not to say that cause I think like what, what my mind starts doing. you use the word commodity. And what my mind starts doing is thinking about, okay, well what about unintended consequences? Like what if you’re, what if you create a product that solves one problem for people, that creates another.

And I can see how worrying about those unintended consequences, like not, not wanting to, not wanting to make things worse. No, go ahead.

Dan: [00:15:32] But can we come up? Can we come up with a concrete example of that? Because, you know, one thing I’m extremely wary of is, you know, there’s a, there’s a disease that’s common amongst people who want to start their own businesses, which is the ability to imagine problems. This song Sean talked about in his Instagram feed recently, actually, where people were asking questions about, I don’t want to share my art cause I’m worried that it will be stolen.

And Sean, you know, admitted this, this held him back for years and he finally was able to push past it. But the way he, I really liked the way he framed this, he said, you know, start doing the thing. Because it’s better to have real problems than imaginary problems. So when you’re not putting your art out in the world, it’s easy to imagine that if you do it, it’ll be stolen.

But that’s not a real problem yet because you haven’t put anything out. It’s much better to put your art out in the world and then deal with the problem if it occurs. And so, similarly, I don’t want people who want to create an online course that teaches people how to get better at cooking. To be worried that as a result of getting better at cooking, their customer is, are going to, you know, I don’t know, die of food poisoning, and so they won’t even create the course about cooking.

Th this is, this is what I’m wary of then, because I think it’s very easy for us, and it is sort of inherent in the whole topic of this show, eh, there’s, there’s an edge to this question of like, ah, I sorta want to start a business and sell things to people, but what if it’s not even ethical to do that?

Ben: [00:17:06] Yeah. Okay. So, and the reason I, the reason I bring this question up is I’m kind of putting it out there as, you know, like devil’s advocate kind of thing. Like, playing devil devil’s advocate.  you asked for a concrete example, I think of cell phones

solve. All kinds of problems as well. And I’ll say smart phones to be more specific, solve all kinds of problems.

But we’re, we’re starting to become aware of some of the unintended consequences of having that kind of technology. Oh, okay. So let me, let me pause there and just address that. So

for the person who is struggling with like, okay, well what if. those, those imaginary problems because they’ve seen maybe real world examples of products that were fantastic at solving one problem, but maybe created other problems.

And like the best example, I can come up with this smart fence, but, but I, I get how that would

cause someone to be hesitant, but I totally agree with what you’re saying. It’s a better to solve. Real problems. and you can’t solve real problems until you actually put something out. And I think that it speaks a great deal to your ethics that you would purposefully be looking for, that you would go ahead and move forward.

But in doing so, you’d also be purposefully looking for

those places where unintended problems or consequences. Arise and fix things when you, when that happens, like be prepared. And so, so one of the things I appreciate is when companies who manufacture smart phones, build into their software or their devices, things that help offset some of those negative consequences  in an effort.

Two, continue providing the solution to some of the problems they’ve solved, but also reduce the occurrence of other problems that were not intended. Does that make sense?

Dan: [00:19:34] Yeah. It’s, it’s an acknowledgement that there are always trade offs with every, with anything that we do, and it’s a mix, but, but it’s, it’s problematic too. Well, you know, to take the extreme example, and I don’t want to go too far with this cause it gets, it goes to a high, sort of just a very philosophical level pretty quickly, right?

But I mean, if, if you like retrospectively, we could look at every technological advancement humanity has ever made and identify some of the negative tradeoffs that an imposed. But if we. If we say, okay, well we can’t have smart phones because they, because they had these negative trade offs and we can’t have, you know, cars because they had these negative like, do we actually reach a place where we’re better off just because we eliminated those, those trade offs.

But I’m going to kind of put that down because again, it wanders away from, I think the concrete question that the people, cause again, like. The board of Apple incorporated is not listening to this show, presumably, and you know, the major car manufacturers that we’re not trying to figure out if like stuff at that scale is ethical.

We’re trying to, we’re trying to consider when you create a product and you want to sell it, is it ethical to do it? And you know, as a kind of byproduct of that question, how can you do it ethically? So I want to get into a couple things about what exit, like what is it that makes. What is it that makes a product valuable to a consumer?

And, the, the main way that we look at this is, okay, a consumer has a problem that they need solved.  they’re going to solve it through a product or a service or something. They’re going to solve it by getting something from someone else, right? Whether that’s hiring you for your freelance services or buying a product that you sell, they’re doing that to solve a problem.

Now, when we talk about negative things in salesmanship and consumerism and things like that, a lot of the time, what we talk about our needs, which are manufactured, right? And then we question, well, is it ethical. Is it ethical to convince people on a large scale that they’re not good looking enough and then sell them makeup and clothing to fulfill that perceived need?

Right? But what we want to focus on as small business owners is doing a really good job of identifying peoples actual needs. And in a way we have, we have the benefit of, we don’t have a multibillion dollar marketing spend. Frankly. We, we can’t necessarily do a good job of convincing people of needs that they don’t really have, so we can solve them the solution really, if we’re going to be successful running small businesses, we’re going to have to identify real customers, actual needs, and then develop excellent solutions for them.

Ben: [00:22:32] Well, I, I w I want to take that example of things like, like beauty or fitness products or some something that addresses those kinds of things because I think the reason those industries exist is not because they’ve done such a great job of convincing people that they need to be beautiful or they need to be thin or they need to be fit.

I think they have capitalized on

some. Natural human. Mmm. And he used the word instincts, but just the, you know, like there, there are things that come naturally to, to humans just as a part of our biology

that

in a different context was useful at some point. But in, in today’s context, it’s not useful, but it’s still so deeply embedded.

that we have to be purposeful about overcoming them. And I think about, I think about this with food all the time. Like I love eating sugary stuff

and you know, all of the health stuff out there says, if you, if you want to stay healthy and maintain a good weight, you need to stop eating stuff that has added sugar in it.

But. But the, you know, the more, I guess, primitive parts of me, I crave that so much. And it’s like when I, when I eat sugar, it’s just, it’s such a delightful, wonderful experience. It tastes good. You know, sometimes it makes me feel bad. Like I get a little bit sick if I have too much, but you know, I can kind of manage that.

I can eat enough sugar not to get sick, but to make myself very unhealthy over the longterm. But it’s, it’s, it’s built into, you know, it’s like I have to purposefully overcome that natural tendency. So all of that to say there, there are things that, that are natural, that come naturally to us that are not necessarily good for us in today’s context.

And it’s really difficult, I think sometimes to discern the difference between. What people are asking for in the market. And if we give people a voice  they use that voice to express desires around or, or to to express problems around some of these natural tendencies. And we interpret those as problems that need solutions.

Like, I want to be thinner. I want to look more attractive, you know, like how, how do you discern between something that, that people are saying that is, that’s kind of a natural need versus something that is a legitimate problem that you, my heavy, useful solution to that would actually make people’s lives better.

You have to do some, some mental work two. Discern the difference between those two things,

but I think that’s, I think that’s kind of where the ethics comes in. It’s like, yeah, you could, you could make a beauty product or, okay. So as I had mentioned, I was going to bring this in. I’ve been thinking about starting a fitness brand.

I don’t have a product or anything like that. I don’t have any ideas for product. But the, the whole concept, the whole idea of the brand is about fitness, longevity, and not longevity as in like trying to live as long as possible, but really trying to maintain health, mobility and fitness or as long as you can into the latter years of your life.

And I feel like, you know, like that’s got a lot of positive benefits, but that’s definitely, some of the principles that I’m, that I’m starting to formulate go against shorter term things, like trying to get six pack abs. And, you know, like,

Dan: [00:27:00] Hurry, hurry up and get that bikini body before the summer.

Ben: [00:27:03] right. Because, because the mentality is not focused on. What can I do to my body in six weeks to make me more attractive and desirable? It’s what can I do? What habits can I create now that are, that are going to allow me to be a person in their seventies or eighties still capable of, you know, running around, keeping up with grandkids and carrying my own groceries and, you know, like, stuff like that.

Dan: [00:27:34] Sure. So can I try, can I try to bring this in.

Ben: [00:27:37] Yes, please, please do.

Dan: [00:27:39] There was a point that you had in your notes that said, purposefully avoid selling to people who wouldn’t benefit from your product in some way. And I feel like you’d started to touch on this, during this conversation, is that there’s this idea of like, just because people have desires doesn’t mean that we are behaving ethically when we try to fulfill them.

Right? Because there’s, we’re, we’re drawn towards short-term. Stuff. So if someone just goes, I really want some sugar right now, and you’ve got ice cream to sell them  you know, mayor may or may not be an ethical thing to sell that, that person some ice cream. But in terms of answering this question, is it ethical to sell products?

You know, for the, for each of us as business owners, we have values, and we always talk at Sean Wes about starting from the standpoint of your values, right? So there is something to be said for. Based on your values, perform an analysis of what a customer needs. And so for example, Ben, if you ran a fitness brand and you had a potential client who said, I want you to train me to, you know, get, get my to transform my body in the next six weeks.

But your values said that that’s the, that’s not a good goal to focus on. There are, there are a lot of downsides. Also, it’s not sustainable. I’m, I’m here to help you have a healthier lifestyle for your whole life. Not crash diet for the next couple of weeks so that you can, you know, look better in a, in your bathing suit.

Well then you don’t sell to those people. You don’t market to those people. And it’s okay too. It’s okay to shape how you sell your product in a way that feels the most ethical to you. But, but still. Make it and still sell it because you believe in the value for the right people.

Ben: [00:29:33] And I think it’s worth asking. Like, what? What if.

If you’re really honest with yourself about that, what if that excludes the portion of the market where there’s actual sales potential versus, you know, like I, and I haven’t, it’s like a very, very new idea. this, this fitness brand thing that I’m kicking around.

what if I do market research and I find, you know, there’s not really a demand for this. I’m not, not saying. I have a sense one way or the other, but just for example, let’s say I did the research and really like anything fitness-related is geared toward short term goals.

any, any other fitness stuff out there that’s geared toward longterm goals really doesn’t perform that well and has a really hard time getting off the ground.

Dan: [00:30:28] Yeah. And like, if, if you find out that 95% of the market for people who buy fitness-related products want the six week six pack and only 5% want the teach me how to be healthy for the rest of my life. Ha ha. How do you deal.

Ben: [00:30:45] Which I think is maybe true for most industries, I think, I think the, the market for short term. Solutions is often better then the market for long term solutions.

Dan: [00:31:04] Well, hold on a second because you said bet. You said better. And what I think you mean is bigger.

Ben: [00:31:09] Bigger. Yeah.

Dan: [00:31:11] What defines a market is better, right? Is, is your ability to run a business there. And it reminds me of what we’ve talked about a lot with regard to premium brands. Versus discount brands and the need to carefully define your businesses as one of them.

And Sean has made the compelling argument before that as a small business, you want to, you want to try to be a premium brand because the only way to succeed at a discount brand is at scale, right? Think Walmart, for example. And as a small business owner, you’re probably not going to be able to do that.

So I think similarly, if the vast majority of people want a short term solution that you don’t feel good about providing. But, but that means that you have a much smaller potential market. I think where that leads us is creating more premium products and more premium experiences. Right. So Ben, like one thing that occurs to me is the person who just wants six pack abs in six weeks probably also doesn’t value that super highly.

Like if you offered them that solution, how much would they pay for it? Would they pay $39 would they pay three 99 what about 39 99 right. Whereas perhaps the person who wants to live a healthier lifestyle for their whole life is, is more along the lines of like an ongoing consulting engagement. Right.

So maybe you don’t need, I wonder if it goes hand in hand with, if you’re addressing a market that’s focused on the short term, you are more likely to be selling something that’s a bit of a commodity. Whereas if you’re focused on the small niche of a market that really fits your values, that might also pair very nicely with selling a more premium experience, in which case you don’t need 95% of the market to succeed.

Ben: [00:32:54] Yeah, yeah. I totally get what you’re saying. And I like, I like that shift in focus from, you know, how, how can I get the biggest market share? And this is, I think maybe an important question to ask in light of trying to be. A more ethical like trying to build a more ethical product. Instead of asking, how can I get the biggest market share?

You ask, how can I get the right market share? Like, and this, this is something that was in my notes too. I believe longterm eventually wins.

I th I think that, you know, the, the short term rewards. Are are definitely out there. Like the, the reason commodities exist is because people like quick fixes. But I think that proven results over time

ends up being the winner in the longterm.

And, and what that requires is patience and perseverance. I mean, you, you kind of, you have to think of your product as like. You know, this is not, I mean, to make money off of this in six weeks, this is, I might make money off of this in six years.

Dan: [00:34:14] Right. That that might be a very good yard stick for. You know, if you’re wondering if you’re going about business in an ethical way, are you focused on the short term or are you focused on the longterm? Are you focused on providing a tiny bit of value to everybody you hope in return for a quick buck? Or are you focused on providing massive value to exactly the right people?

Because again, if you’re going to go out and truly perceive a need and solve it, you’re more likely to do that on the small scale, right? You’re more likely to find. The hundred people who work in this business who need to learn how to do copywriting, for example, and help them do it, then you are to produce a product that appeals to the vast majority of people that are looking for a short term fix to their sugar craving, or they’re an entertainment craving or et cetera.

Ben: [00:35:07] Yeah, it’s, it’s tough, man. So like. I’m, I’m trying to, I’m trying to think of how, how does, how does a, solving a small problem that into this, because you know, people, people have small problems to I, and I think it’s maybe not necessarily a question of

if it’s a small, quick fix, it’s not ethical versus if it’s a longterm thing, it’s more ethical.

I don’t think it’s as simple as that. I think it, it has more to do with matching. And this is like, this is what I’m thinking of. Like, Mmm.

If someone were to sell a webinar,

access to webinar for, you know, $5, and

they said, in this webinar, we’re going to teach you how to grow your YouTube subscriber list.

To 10,000 and beyond, and it’s just $5 you know, a lot of people would sign up for that,

but what I think is often the case is those kinds of scenarios end up being, there’s, there’s some good general information in there, but not necessarily anything you couldn’t find researching on your own versus spending $500 to go to.

A workshop with a person who can actually diagnose where you are, what you’re doing on your channel, what things you need to change, where you might need to focus, things you need to stop doing, you know, and like really get into the technical, tactical stuff from a place of experience.

Dan: [00:37:00] And then I, I, I think that the other thing about the latter cases, this, if you go to someone and you say, attend this webinar and learn how to grow your YouTube audience past 10,000 people. A lot of people are going to sign up for that cause they think what’s important is to grow their YouTube audience past 10,000 people and as the purveyor of a very cheap webinar, you’re not necessarily in a position or inclined to assess whether that’s actually valuable to your customer, but this goes back to not selling things that that like avoiding selling to people who don’t need it.

If you, if what you sell is like premium coaching for how to grow your YouTube audience and you charge a premium price. Then you’re going to be in more of a position to vet your potential customers. And so when somebody who doesn’t have a business comes to you and says, I want to grow my YouTube channel, can I pay you $1,000 to do that?

You can look at them and go, listen, it’s not worth your time to, it’s not worth your time or money because first you got to build a business. Right. So I think this, this is, again, it’s a way to  behaving ethically goes hand in hand with the nature of what you’re selling, right? Because if you, if you’re selling selling for $1,000, you are, you’re addressing a much smaller market and you’re putting yourself in a position to vet what that market actually needs.

Whereas when you’re selling something for $5, you are. A not really gonna you’re, you’re probably not doing as good a job at figuring out if it’s valuable to the people who buy it. But on the other hand, like if someone, if someone wastes quote unquote $5 on a webinar, that doesn’t really matter, but you wouldn’t want them to waste $1,000.

Ben: [00:38:40] Yeah. Well, and I guess part of what I’m thinking is like charging people $5 promising to, provide a $500 solution.

Dan: [00:38:53] Yeah. What and what about it.

Ben: [00:38:55] Versus well that, that that’s

just any, you know, in the example I gave, it’s kind of this idea of like, Oh, this, this solution is really worth, if it really works, it’s actually worth, you know, $500 but I’m only charging you $5 and so whether or not it works. You feel good because you did something and you only spent $5.

and it, and it kind of, it kind of makes it unnecessary to do the work of like proving your qualifications and, and building a relationship with people and all of those things that would allow you to actually charge $500 because you’ve, and so I guess like, if you’re going to charge $5. That’s, that’s fine, but let it be for, let, let it be for providing a $5 solution.

And I dunno, like at that point,

Dan: [00:39:58] Look, I want to, I want to take us, I wanna I wanna again, focus on where we’re at. Yeah. And where our audience is at. And like just speaking in general, if someone listening to this show said, I’m trying to figure out how to build a business and do it ethically, I would probably guide them in the direction of offering a $500 solution and not a $5 solution.

And part of the reason for that is because. Assuming, you know, assuming things about what your values are, you are putting yourself in a better position to build an ethical business. If you are creating a premium experience, if you are carefully selecting your customers instead of trying to address a gigantic market, I think the best way that you can.

It run a business like this ethically is to think of yourself as the trusted helper, the trusted provider of solutions to your customer’s problems. And to do that, you have to start with really understanding what those problems are and understanding it well enough to come up with a solution that you know is valuable because there’s an underlying.

Issue with the question. If you’re sitting there going, is it ethical for me to sell this thing to my customer as well? If you think you’re providing a ton of value, then yes, it is. So maybe the real question is, do you not think that what you’re providing is valuable and if not, let’s do it. You know, dig into that now.

Right? Like is it because the, so, so to go back to like the webinar example, if you’re only willing to charge $5 for this thing, is that because you don’t think it’s really valuable? Because if it’s not really valuable, maybe you shouldn’t produce it. Maybe you should go make something that’s more valuable and then you’ll feel better about selling it.

Oh, and by the way, it’ll command a higher price. You see the, I think these things go hand in hand with each other.

Ben: [00:41:53] Well, and, and I think in that example, I was kind of playing off the idea that what was being provided in the webinar wasn’t necessarily worth more than $5. But I can, I can see that side of the argument too, where for, especially for the people who are listening to the show, I think most of us tend to undervalue what we provide in our process, that we undervalue the solutions we provide in our products.

And so that’s, that’s an important thing. And I think that also kind of goes into.

The way that we sell and whether or not we feel like slimy salespeople. Because if you don’t believe and the value of something,

it’s difficult to talk about it as if you believe in it without coming across as an as an authentic.

When you really believe in something, when you have a vision for how your product makes life better for someone else, when you are enthusiastic about creating a result, when you really believe in the value of what you’re providing, it’s a lot easier to be passionate about about it. When you’re talking about your product, that’s a lot easier too.

just your, your position, kind of your orientation with your product becomes more about what it’s doing for your customer and that comes through and the way that you talk about it that comes through in the way that you sell. And so I F I feel like that’s, that’s really important work is, is really.

Get shifting your mindset and getting your, getting your mindset right about the actual value that you’re providing.

Dan: [00:43:46] Yeah. I think the, I think it’s one of those things where the, the one question is it ethical to sell products to consumers is sort of hiding another question, which is do I feel like I’m actually providing value now? Selling is a skill and. There’s a couple of episodes of the podcast to go back and listen to, to learn more about selling.

We’ve got episode two, one three. Sales is not a dirty word. Why? You need to learn to sell an episode three 56 transitioning from providing value to selling without feeling awkward, right? So I think, I’m going to send people over there. You can go to  dot com slash two one three and  dot com slash three five six to listen to those.

To learn more about selling in particular and how to do it in a way that doesn’t feel slimy. But I feel like what we’re providing right now is a little bit foundational. Before you can start getting good at the skill of selling, you have to believe that you’ve got something valuable to sell.

Ben: [00:44:46] Absolutely. I think that’s definitely, you know, like after actually coming up with a solution, I feel like that’s one of the most important steps in the process. We’ve only got a few minutes left here, but I did want to make good on, on what I was saying earlier in the pod cast, and I think part of your homework should be going and checking out those other episodes.

If you, if you want to be an ethical salesperson and you’re starting from a place of values, you’re, you’re already off on the right foot. And, and I think what is your responsibility now? Your responsibility as a, as a person of values who wants to be an ethical salesperson is to develop strong sales skills.

You should become. A master because, and, and some people have a natural ability. so some people are just naturally really good salespeople.

But I think, I think what is most ethical is, is being a really good salesperson and not using that as a tool to manipulate people, but using that as a tool. To help the, to help connect the right people to the solution that would make their lives better.

And being a good salesperson, like I said earlier, is, is a way that you create that kind of clarity for people, that you get, that you rise above the noise of everything else that’s in the market.  and I think that’s part of the work of a person who wants to be an ethical salesperson is to. Is to really make an effort at developing those skills.

Dan: [00:46:36] Yeah, I agree. Yeah. I want everybody to start from. Being able to say, yeah, this thing I’m making is valuable. Now I’m going to go learn how to sell it. And those other episodes all help you do that. For those, those of you who are in the Shawn West community and you’re still not sure if you have something to sell that’s actually valuable.

Start a conversation and let’s, let’s talk about it for now. Ben, you want to wrap this up?

Ben: [00:47:00] Dan, where can people go to find us online?

Dan: [00:47:04] Well, appropriately enough. I’m going to teach you something about selling specifically. Pre-selling, cause I want you to go to presale profits.com so this is a course that we did last year as a live show and we’re opening it up for sale for the first time since then. And I really liked this course, Ben.

I’ve gone through it a couple of times and this is all about learning how to validate a product before you make it so that you know, this is, this is like the next step after you’ve. Determine that you’re selling some, you know, you’re, you want to create something in an ethical way. The question is how do you figure out what to make?

And the worst way to do that is to just make something and then try to find people who will buy it.

And the best, the best way to do it is to. Find out what people need and then validate that need by actually taking payments and we teach you how to do that in presale profits. It’s a great course. So go check out presale profits.com the courses on sale with a great deal for a limited time.

And yeah, you’re, you’re going to have a good time over there, Ben. Where can people find you online?

Ben: [00:48:10] You can find me@bentulsan.com and I’m at Ben Tulsan on all things. And Dan, where can they find you?

Dan: [00:48:17] In check me out@djjacobson.com and I’m at DJ Jacobson, author on Instagram. Good show, sir.

Ben: [00:48:26] Yeah, it was a good show.

Now go out there and make some sales ethically.

Dan: [00:49:15] So Ben, I know that you’ve got to run, we don’t have much time for an after show, but, Tony. Tony and Laura asked a couple of questions. Tony in particular asked one and, I’d hate for her to listen to the whole show without us answering it. So, and, and I think that, that it, it ties in really well. So can I try to tackle this question in like two minutes?

All right. Tony asked, how can affiliate marketing work? Well, if I don’t use many products myself, I can’t afford to right now. Do I wait until I know the product is good personally, even though so many in the space I’m in. Personal training are sponsored by these products. How can I make affiliate marketing work in the meantime until I can afford the products myself?

Ben, I’m going to give you my opinion on this and then you tell me if you, I have a different one, but Tony, I think the thing is we’re talking about operating from a standpoint of values. The fact is the risk you run, if you become an affiliate for products that you’re not familiar with. Or that those products don’t turn out to not be a good fit for your values.

That might mean that they’re bad or it might mean that something about them or the way they’re sold just doesn’t line up with the standpoint that you operate from. And if you, if you promote those products without being familiar with them, you do run that risk of there being a bad alignment. Ideally.

When you, when you only promote products that you are familiar with, that you love to use and that you would probably tell people about without getting paid for it. That is when your best position to feel good about doing it on the one hand and avoid the risk of having your reputation stained by promoting a bad product.

On the other hand, so you know, I’m not going to tell you don’t do affiliate marketing until you can afford the products. But I am going to tell you to exercise caution and, and it’s possible that just to look at this a couple of other ways. if you’re seeing a lot of products you can’t afford that are obvious affiliates, you can also go looking for less obvious affiliates.

So for example, if there are products you already use, you could reach out to the people who make them and ask for that. You get, you know, a pitch, some kind of affiliate arrangement. For starters. Mmm. Another thing you can do, and although this, this might be a little bit more advanced potentially, is leverage your audience.

If you have an audience for something, it’s possible to, again, pitch yourself as an affiliate. Go to someone and say, look, I reached these people that you’re interested in reaching. Give me your product and I’ll try it out. And if it’s a good fit, we’ll, we’ll create a relationship that that might, that might only be something that applies when you have a larger audience.

When you do that, then you do right now. But, but that’s basically my take on affiliate marketing.

Ben: [00:52:04] Yeah. I, I tend to agree with that. I think that obviously the closer you can get to your hands on the product,

the easier it is going to be for you to S to speak from your experience in a way that really resonates with your audience, which creates a lot more value for. The affiliate, then you speaking from second hand knowledge.

Mmm, and I think like one of the ways I get, especially in the personal training space, there are certain brands that, that work as affiliates, that that become kind of a signal to your audience.

So, you know, going, going with a recognizable brand as an affiliate. Makes more sense than going with something that’s more accessible based on where you are and your budget.

Mmm. So, so I, I appreciate how difficult that decision can be, but I would, I would definitely err on the side of, of getting as close to hands on the product as you can. And I think maybe like a secondary to that would be, maybe you don’t have.

Hands on experience with the product or brand, but someone, you know very well and trust and vouch for it, in a way that, and, and another part of it is, you know, like whether you’ve got your hands on the product or not, there’s always due diligence and additional research that you can do about the company that produces the product and all of that.

to see whether or not their practices align with your values. Mmm. And so I think that’s one of the things that’s overlooked with affiliate marketing is when it’d be, it kind of becomes like you

potentially end up projecting the values of another brand. and so I like the idea of being very, very careful and slow about.

who I would represent with my brand

because I definitely don’t want to, like, I don’t want to promote something and then find out that, that I was also promoting like a really toxic work environment that this company was, was creating. even if their product was fantastic. You know, so like things like that.

anyways, I don’t have a ton of experience with affiliate marketing either, so I’m just kind of speaking more from.

Dan: [00:54:56] Yeah. But, and I’m in the same position, but I think we’re taught, you know, we’re talking about, again, that keep the, keep the focus on your values. if you, if you want to do this and, and that being the case, it’s worth asking yourself, are you, do you want to do affiliate marketing because it’s a quick way to make money or seems like one or do you want to do it because it serves your audience, right?

Because one of those is going to lead you to, to operate in the most ethical way and the way that’s most in line with your values. And the other way might not, so proceed with caution.