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Selling Ideas
How Ideas Can Transform
Non-Buyers into Customers

Jill Konrath

A few months ago my friend was in the midst of web site redesign. Her son, who had just left a web design firm to start his own company, was doing the work for her. Several times she suggested that I might want talk to him.

Believe me, it was the last thing in the world I wanted to do! After just spending tons of money and time on my own site, I wasn't one bit interested in talking to Andrew. What I had was "good enough" for awhile. Sure there changes I wanted to make, but they could wait. Besides, doing business with your friend's kid is dangerous - what if he did a lousy job?

With a gracious smile, I politely declined her offer of assistance. "Maybe in a year or so," I said in my nicest, most discouraging manner. She finally dropped the subject. Needless to say, I was relieved.

Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from Andrew a few weeks later. I opened the message and began reading. Sure enough it started, "My mom mentioned ..."

"Poor fellow," I thought, "He must really be desperate for business."

"I took a look at your web site," the letter continued, "and I have some ideas ..."

I was surprised - selling ideas is a high level sales skill. Andrew was new at this, but he had checked out my site and spent time thinking about my business. I was downright curious too. What ideas did Andrew have for me? I had to learn more. I read on. He explained them, but being a non-tech savvy buyer, I was somewhat confused. He started to lose me; I quickly reject any sales pitch cloaked in techie terminology.

Then, what I read next blew me away!

Andrew told me he had copied several pages from my web site onto his. He had actually made the recommended changes so I could 'see' and 'test' what he was talking about. He gave me the URL link.

Of course, I had no choice. I had to see what he'd done to my web site. I clicked through and tried the new software. It was easy. It did what I needed it to do. I saw other definite improvements too.

I was really impressed, but not ready to do anything. Nice as the changes were, I didn't need them; I could live without them. But Andrew didn't give up. He sent an e-mail suggesting we talk about the ideas early the next week.

I stalled. "I'm busy all week," I e-mailed back. "Perhaps the following week."

He wrote back suggesting that setting up a specific time would make it easier for both of us. He gave me some options when he was available. We went back and forth like this for a few weeks, but guess what the end result was ...

That's right. I'm working with Andrew now. I switched my web hosting company to one he suggested; he handled all the details. He's doing a couple projects for me and I know he'll do more in the future. And, I've already recommended him to several people. (If you want help with your web site, his e-mail is


  • Research customers prior to any contact. Be sure to let them know the homework you did. Feel free to say or write, "In preparing for our meeting, I _____." They'll be impressed; they don't hear this often.
  • Prospective buyers can't resist ideas. They have to learn more. To make yourself irresistible and invaluable to customers, become an idea generator.
  • Offer your knowledge and expertise freely. Invest time on a project before you're hired. It sets you apart from the crowd. Plus prospects can sample what it's like working with you, making a decision much easier.
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Jill Konrath, President of Selling to Big Companies and Leapfrog-Strategies Inc., helps sellers create value, differentiation and demand in competitive markets. For info on speaking, training or consulting services, please call 651-429-1922 or email us at


Copyright 2006, Jill Konrath - (651) 429-1922