Panhandling with puppydog eyes

Picking up the theme of “owning” the value you provide to your subscribers (rather than approaching your list like a beggar), reader Frank writes:

An important perspective explained well not just for email list but any sales engagement.

Each year my teen's high school soccer team sells flowers (chrysanthemums) as a fundraiser. It's SO difficult for a teen to go around asking people and businesses if they want to buy one. The feel like they are imposing…begging for a favor.

After reading your email, I realized their thought approach is wrong. They could see that the business has a need for beautification of their store which could strengthen their position among their competitors. The mums fill that need for a business needing wanting to beautify their premises. These flowers directly meet that need. They are not panhandling for a team donation, they become a provider of value.

This hits on a huge pet peeve of mine:

School fundraisers.

Now I don't have a problem with getting kids involved early with funding the activities they're interested in—that needs to happen a lot more actually.

What I have a MAJOR problem with is the way these fundraisers are typically structured.

What the organizers do is, they put big markups on commodity items—stuff like wrapping paper and cookie dough—then rely on an army of cute kids to guilt people into to buy something with their sad puppydog eyes.

The lesson the kids take away is, “selling” is about getting people to pay way more than they should for stuff they don't want or need, using whatever pressure tactics you have at your disposal.

Think a few of these kids might later have to battle with feeling like they're imposing any time they talk to a prospect?

When you instead approach the conversation like Frank suggests, with a focus on the value you can create, it totally changes the dynamic.

You're no longer asking for a favor—you're gauging their interest in a two-way relationship where you're both better off.

No puppydog eyes required.