The thing I enjoy the most about being an online business owner is this: Nobody can take away what I have built with SBI! - John Shank, SBI! member since 2003

Drive Sales by Overcoming Cynicism

Drive Sales by Overcoming Cynicism
The word cynic is a Greek word that means “doglike.” It was adopted by a group of ancient Greek philosophers who had subscribed to a certain way of life. Men like Antisthenes, who was a student of Socrates, followed by Diogenes, and others. They believed that you had to pursue virtue at the cost of everything else.

They shunned all conventional desires for wealth, power, sex and fame. Here’s Diogenes begging for food with some dogs, rejecting virtually all possessions.

These philosophers loved to tell other people what they weren’t doing right. If they believed you were doing something out of selfish or false motives, they would call you out.

They would stand on the street corner and bark at passers-by like dogs. Social media is today’s equivalent of barking.

How’d We Get This Way? defines “cynicism” as “distrusting or disparaging the motives of others.” You’ll notice that “barking” is no longer included in the definition. It can sure get ugly, though, when cynics “mob up.”

How cynical are you? Take this quick test…

Would you doubt a trending Facebook topic about a movie star working a soupline for the homeless?

“Absolutely not?”  Your heart is pure.

What if that trending topic happened to emerge during Oscar Season?


What if the new movie was about charitable acts?

“What a rat!”

None of us is immune, yet we all start out with the pure hearts of infants.  What happens along the way is summed up nicely by George Carlin…

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.George Carlin

The pain of being let down by someone who is doing something good “out of the kindness of their heart” is a pain never forgotten. Nor is it a one-of. We soon realize that nothing is free. There’s always a catch.

Why spend so much time on this? We’d like to introduce you to one of the biggest killers of online sales…

The Silent Cynic

Web-surfing is a quiet act. It’s rarely accompanied by a cynical joke, said out loud, during a moment of disbelief — even if said out loud, it’s not like anyone would hear it.

Mostly, one’s distrust of another’s motives takes the form of a thought… perhaps  “I doubt it,” followed by a quick click good-bye.  

Regardless of niche, consider this…

Silent cynicism is an important and under-addressed “hit” to  online sales.

Depending on your niche, it can be the #1 cause of lost sales. It makes no difference if the doubt has merit…

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.Lillian Hellman

True enough. But if your prospective customer’s doubt is dead wrong, your sales still suffer.

So while we agree with Lillian Hellman, there’s no opportunity to argue with silent but unfounded cynicism. Or to use a famous baseball quote…

You can’t hit what you can’t see.Walter Johnson

Or can you? Let’s explore this while using one of the cynic’s top disbeliefs as an example…

Anything that sounds “Too Good To Be True” usually is

An amazing free download promises to reveal the professional’s secrets to Instagram success. The sales copy is convincing. You rush to be the first of 500 (they’re not really counting). It turns out to be 50% rehash and 50% sales pitch for a $999 Instagram training program that itself has sales copy promising world domination.

No wonder consumers of information and tools in the Internet marketing niche are the most cynical group online. They have all been burned many times more than “one time too many.”

Let’s take another example… Suppose you have a fantastic idea for starting your own business online. You discover a product that, “with its integrated combination of process, tools, guidance, auto-updating & 24/7 help has enabled more solopreneurs to build profitable businesses than any other product.

By now, your cynic’s antennae are vibrating off the charts.

This certainly sounds TGTBT.

And like the old saying goes, “Anything that sounds TGTBT usually is.”

“Usually,” but not always. Here’s where that silent cynicism comes in. Those who click away are likely gone forever. That’s a shame for both parties because Solo Build It! (yes, the second example is us ) is real.

Those who click through to “Proof” discover objective, verifiable proof that nothing comes close to Solo Build It! (aka SBI!) in the online business-building arena.

Those who click will find:

  • 500 high-performing websites from a wide variety of niches
  • Long term case studies from solopreneurs who’ve been with SBI! for more than a decade
  • Interviews with dozens of successful SBI! members
  • User created “I Love SBI!” videos

Each and every single success story comes with a domain name, so that you can check traffic levels yourself and contact the owner if you wish. No other company provides this kind of proof. They would, if they could.

The Bottom Line Problem

Silent cynicism loses “sales.” Depending on the niche, it can be an overwhelmingly difficult issue. Niches with companies that promise but don’t deliver are the most at-risk. Examples include niches with products that promise to help you to…

  • make money
  • lose weight
  • find happiness
  • build a physique
  • find love.

Think of it the way General Patton did…

Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.George S. Patton

Now that we have a handle on the problem…

What Is the Bottom Line Solution?

There are great products, ones that deliver-in-full, even in the most cynical niches. You know that you’re for real. They don’t. You will not convince anyone by yelling “really, we’re for real.”

So how do you convince someone to trust you? How do you stand out as “the needle?”

The Web Site Sales Effort

It starts, of course, with a professional and solid presentation, using as much copy as you need… and not a word more.

The first version of your sales site will not be perfect. You will not see areas that could yield substantial increases in your conversion rate. Our suggestion for improving it?

Listen to your customers!

They will have remarkable insights, often in the form of questions or issues they ran into while browsing your site or using your product or service.

The best way to defeat silent cynicism is to remember these quotes…

  • Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth.
    If the cynic has correctly tagged you, go away. (Yes, we know they won’t.)
  • Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.
    Know the high-risk niches. It’s a tougher field, at first.
  • Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.
    We don’t want to be cynics. Provide what they need to believe.
  • You can’t hit what you can’t see.
    You don’t get a chance to counter mistaken impressions. Be proactive.

Once your “v1.0 site” is optimized, what else should you do?

The following methods are medium-term builds. You don’t establish authority with a single post, for example.

Regularly Provide Free Help

Through your pages and blog posts, you can engender trust by helping your target audience. Creating content that over-delivers in its promise to assist the reader is a powerful way to create raving, trusting fans.

Don’t deliver “me too” content or vague “how-to” that will not be used. Original content that solves a problem or answers a question, ideally with a unique approach proven in practice, is invaluable.

Providing solutions such as these not only engenders trust in you, it establishes your authority in the field. Speaking of which…

Establish Your Authority

We know a lot about building a profitable online business, which is a happy coincidence. You may know a lot about reproducing exotic species of plants. Write the occasional editorial piece that helps to establish your thought leadership (e.g., the decade-long trend to more reasonable regulations of shipping greenhouse-propagated species worldwide).

Consider a webinar with the big names in your field. This is particularly effective if you’re already well-known by the professionals in your field but not by consumers.

Present Social Proof

“Social proof” is often used to describe social sharing buttons that demonstrate how much a particular piece of content has been shared. It’s not the only form of proof… nor is it even the best.

Social proof, technically, is any way in which an individual is able to see what other individuals think about something, lending additional proof from the rest of society.

For an online business, that means including testimonials and case studies on your site, as well as involving industry influencers in your content and social activity.

The best time to embark on influencer marketing is when…

  • your site is settling down to the “best V1.0” you can develop
  • you have some quality content presented in your blog
  • you’re starting to develop an engaged following in social media.

Yes, this takes time. Don’t panic yourself into rushing sub-par material. All but the the most severe cynics (they may even bring dogs with them) understand that a startup is, um, starting up.

Deliver Your Brand Message Using Video

One of the reasons for the massive popularity of video today is the immediacy and personality that it offers viewers. They’re able to see and hear you, sense your body language and intonation, and through that medium, become more trusting.

It’s not a magic bullet, by any means, and you do need to be comfortable in front of the camera. But video has been shown time and again to add tremendously to a site’s conversion rate.

Over to You

We’d love to hear from you how you deal with cynicism/product doubt in your niche…

  • Which of the above techniques have you used?
  • How did they help?
  • Are there other ways you’ve successfully gained trust?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)
Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell's comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.
Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

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