How to sell more

Ramit Sethi · May 29th, 2013

I just recorded a video with my friend Marie Forleo on how to sell more, and it’s not the same old stuff you hear. In the video, I share some blunt advice about how to go much deeper into your customers’ minds. If you think I do a good job selling, I’m revealing some of the frameworks I use in this video.

By the way, I love that she has to issue a disclaimer before she puts me in front of her audience:

Heads up on my friend Ramit: he can be pretty controversial. He regularly recommends his readers unsubscribe from his list (if they’re non-action takers) and has no problem publicly calling people out for being lazy.

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He’s a no B.S. kind of guy who really knows what he’s talking about. Which is exactly why we’re friends, and why I have him on the show today.

And this is me at my most polite!

In the video, I’ll share a framework on positioning that you can use for your own business. You can also use it to get ahead at your job. BONUS: How can you use this positioning concept for your PERSONAL life?

Here’s the video:

Watch until the blooper reel at the end

I’m curious how you could apply this to your business, career, or personal life. Leave a comment below and let me know (just pick one).


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  1. This is a great reminder to a common theme with IWTYTBR and Earn1K. Been struggling with how to improve sales and glad I watched the video. However, best line is probably “that’s some niche shit right there.”

  2. The p90x example of specificity gave me a clear idea of how to improve our company website even though its a radically different business.

  3. Hi Ramit,
    This arrived in my inbox with perfect timing, just as I start a sales push with my company. It’s a great reminder to find your “niche sh!t” rather than the shotgun approach!
    After watching the video, perhaps you could clarify something- specificity driven sales are the goal and you used the Nordstrom shirt as the negative example. You then used P90X as a positive example though I guess I see them as almost identical. If you can’t relate to the punk kid or gramps, how is P90X different in that someone can relate to skinny to bulky or fat to skinny? Like the shirt, a customer relates to one but not the others, but are turned off of the shirt, not the workout product?
    Thank you!

    • Eric DelGrego

      I thought the same thing when I saw the video. Why is it bad for Nordstrom to market to many different people, but good for P90X?

  4. Sarah B

    Ramit’s really mushy on the inside. Knew it all along 🙂

    Seriously, when I started freelance editing, I would have done anything for anyone; I was just desperate to get off the ground. Fortunately, I found my niche, editing services for self-publishing authors, pretty quickly. Not only do I love the work, but most of my business now comes via word of mouth.

    The more you niche down, the more you’re (usually) working with people who know or at least interact with each other. It becomes much easier to build up a solid reputation and get referrals, letting you save on time, energy and money marketing yourself.

  5. Very good interview and perfect timing as I am now putting together a marketing plan for my iPhone application. It helps people discover awesome clubs, lounges and bars, nearby. This audience is not as general as “Empowering women…” however, getting really specific is a daunting task. Thank you for the motivation!

  6. TheDarkLlama

    Oooh, I like. Applied to Business (2 separate markets). Full disclosure: I’ve been a long time follower and have been using Ramit’s 2 qualifier method prior to this video.

    Before: I want to teach martial arts to women.
    After: I want to teach martial arts to female college students (aged 18-25) who want to feel safe in the [my] area but don’t want to commit to the flagship combatives training I offer. This is targeted with a 3-5 session module.

    Before: I want to teach non-lethal martial arts techniques for a cheaper price
    After: I want to teach a takedown class to “switches” in the BDSM community of the [my] area.
    A friend pointed this niche out to me last week. For those not in the know, switches will often wrestle (non-sexually) over who will assume the dominant role in a following sexual encounter. It’s very important to know how to safely take someone down, how to safely fall, how to force a UFC style submission, and what to do in case any of those things go wrong. This one might even be too niche!

    • Jenny

      TheDarkLlama – When it comes the BDSM community, there really isn’t a thing as “too niche.” Spend any amount of time in that community, and everyone you meet will tell you the way they do BDSM is unique or somehow different from everyone else’s. I would say, be ready to offer private 1-to-1 instruction if you aren’t already.

  7. Clare

    What really hit home were the remarks about also being specific about who you’re not targeting. Be a proper specialist instead of a generalist! Put me back on track with an article I’m writing on music therapy, music neuroscience and the treatment of male prisoners with PTSD within a penitentiary psychiatric centre. The article was in danger of becoming an encyclopedia!

  8. Ramit rocks some bad ass MF socks…

  9. Jeffrey Rosan

    Here is my personal experience with niche marketing and how it works. Back in the 80’s I worked at a franchise sales department. (We sold franchise businesses.) My boss, a very affable and competent sales executive always emphasized the key to finding our ultimate customer was appealing to their desire “To Be Their Own Boss”.
    We would use this approach in print media, throughout the country in regions that a franchise could be sold and also availed ourselves of the Wall Street Journal by placing ad’s in “The Mart” every Thursday.
    The results were meh, meh.
    One day yours truly had an epiphany, albeit a small one. If being your own boss was the hook, why not advertise directly in a magazine that seeks out nothing but these souls?
    I came up with a marketing solution, do a pull out ad in Entrepreneur Magazine.
    The franchises we sold were not sexy, but I understood that sex does sell…meaning an attractive woman needed to be placed in the ad, somehow, to achieve full effect. (Women check out attractive women and so do men.)
    We came up with a very attractive pull out ad with a postage paid response card.
    Then off to print we went and the results?
    We sold nearly 150 stores. (Most ever in their history.)
    Hope the above story gives everyone some food for thought.

    • Fascinating. Jeffrey, how would you replicate this success if you were targeting entrepreneurs with an Internet-based marketing campaign? Would you exclusively use paid advertising? Where? Is it all about driving traffic to a squeeze page and giving away free content in order to build a list, or is this approach ineffective? What incentives would you offer to encourage optimum response? How would you niche it down? Finally, are there some things that you have found it is better not to try and sell online, in spite of the potentially wider reach? Thanks.

  10. Caitlyn

    Loved the video, helped me target the product that I’m ACTUALLY selling versus what I could see it doing (I.e., the difference between “empowering” the world, to filling a very specific need for a very specific person). I would love to learn more about the positioning aspect, as I’ve been looking for scripts with that technique.

  11. Dodie Jacobi

    I loved this when first viewed on Marie Forleo – glad you’re posting for your own peeps too. Still honing my niche and know it will be beneficial to more fiercely whittle yet…

    • Carolyn Flynn

      Me too. After seeing this video on I re-did a lot of my website. It’s been a lot easier to share who I am and what I have to offer once I got more specific as to who I was serving.

  12. George

    Love the. Video, yet. Had to watch it twice. Not to sound like a chauvinistic pig but I just cannot stop looking at her legs what I had to do is listen to it without looking.

    • Jesse

      Nothing chauvinistic about appreciation, I’d say.

      First time commenting, fairly recent reader (as of a couple months). Great stuff Ramit and Marie!

  13. Yohanna Stringer

    I’ve discovered that a certain age group will pay $100 for work that takes 10 minutes or so, because they need the service and don’t know where to start themselves. They also know (from price checking) that someone else would charge triple the amount. That’s what I’ve been able to apply. I’ll have to look more into that.

  14. Carolyn Flynn

    Love the fashion imagery to help demonstrate the importance of getting specific. Thanks for the reminder to identify who you are targeting and who you are not targeting. I’ve found it’s much easier to write and promote when I’m writing to a specific audience then a general audience. I’ve also found it helpful to focus on one specific topic instead of multiple helpful topics. Getting specific is the key to best serving potential clients.

  15. Hi Ramit,

    I was so distracted my the lovely legs of your interviewer, that I missed most of what you said.

  16. Victoria @ My Daily Cuppa

    I am currently taking part in a 90 Day Product Creation Challenge so this video was a great reminder of the importance of being niche specific. We would all like to create a product that could be used by anyone but, as you mentioned, the danger is that you will most likely alienate a certain sector because you are offering to broad a service.

    And i have now discovered a new and inspiring person to learn from. Thanks Ramit.

  17. Straight Up Talk Education

    I’d loved this in Marie’s site and here too. Of course, she has a slightly different audience profile. Which just illustrates the point that you are making here. Niche, niche, niche. Go for your ideal target audience and offer them something that they WANT. Of course, someone will always bitch about something, even within your own audience, so there’s no way around it. . Like we all know, you can’t make everyone happy … so why try?

  18. Akasha

    You do have to be incredibly specific. I spent months trying to nail down who my target audience is for a coaching business and came up with … nothing good. Probably because I don’t really want to be a personal coach, although I have people asking me for advice on breaking through stereotypes, escaping the cube life and putting their life on the road. It’s fun to do, sure, but boring as hell to talk about and teach. Now if I could get people in my life to quit trying to get me to teach them this shit, that would be great. But that’s a whole other topic.

    Since I wasn’t having luck there, I instead came up with an idea for a cool product and cranked out my very specific audience profile in about five seconds flat. I take this as a good sign and now am hot on the trail of executing on this idea.

  19. Sheila Lawrence

    Two things…

    The idea of drilling down and really identifying your costumer will help me in my communication to them because it is easier to talk to some one you know, than to all the fish in the sea. I’m getting ready to do videos again and when I recorded myself before I felt as though I was shouting into an airplane hanger. Now I think I will feel as though I am relating directly to a person I know something about..

    Second, a lesson I learned from you that you don’t articulate in what you are saying, but by just how you are: Success comes from not accepting the failure, but looking past it. And by getting outside of yourself enough to be able to observe what is going on.

    That’s a great lesson because many times it is just too easy to think, “Well, I’m just no good at that so I’ll leave it alone and avoid it.” We stop growing that way and really miss out. What would your life had been like now if you had just accepted yourself as an awkward geek? Thank god you didn’t because you really helped this awkward geek!

  20. Nate Anglin

    My man!

    Excellent stuff as usual. Know who your target market is and be the best damn person when providing to them. May I also suggest that most people sat this isn’t a form of “differentiation” but I believe if you truly know who you should be working with and provide the best service / product to those people you’ll differentiate yourself from 95% of your “competitors.”

    I almost died laughing when you told Marie her hair blow dryer guy was some niche shit. Love it.

  21. Alexander Rose

    You said the same stuff you always say! but the example was great and gave me some great ideas to improve my marketing!

  22. Chris

    For those with the questions about the P90X vs. Nordstrom shirts, think about how different the two products are. One changes the person from the inside out. The other does no changing at all, it just hangs on the person and you image of the product changes according to who its hanging on. Seems silly to try and conflate the two examples. A shirt marketed to one demographic would likely sell better. If a different demo tries it, it’s up to them to make it work, not the marketer. Being fit would make all shirts hang “better” on you, whatever the demographic (within reason)

  23. JustMe

    Personal life niching:

    I would like to date only European models who earn six-figure salaries in NYC and like Seinfeld re-runs.

    Whoohoo! That’s my new niche!

  24. IvyGuy

    Great video. I like Marie, and I’d like to fill her niche.

  25. Camilla

    I’m currently creating a dog training product for Siberian Huskies. I’ve already niched the product to be training for Huskies, as opposed to just dog training (many of the principles apply across all breeds) but am now wondering about trialing a few different sales letters aimed at people within the ‘siberian husky niche’ – e.g. people that buy them as farm dogs/people with large properties, single guys/girls who buy them as a companion/for fulfillment of emotional needs, families that have bought one because their kids saw Snow Dogs and whinged until they caved, etc. etc. Each of these niches have their own challenges, as they reason they got the dog was different, and in my experience, the subsequent challenges they have with the dog and behavioural dysfunctions that occur also vary according to their reason for purchase. Thought it’d be interesting to try a few adaptations of the letters and hook them up to a range of tailored Adwords campaigns and see if it improves conversion.