How to win at selling Online: Jim Cockrum interview transcript – Part 1
Written by Jodie Pride
26th April 2015 • 13 min read
This is the first part of Veeqo’s interview with Jim Cockrum who shares with us the secrets of selling online. In this part, you’ll learn all about how Jim began selling online.
Prince Appah: Hi everyone, welcome to Online Seller series with the amazing Jim Cockrum. It’s presented today by Prince Appah from Veeqo. This interview today is brought to you by Veeqo. Veeqo is an all-in-one multi channel inventory management software for online retailers who sell on Amazon, eBay, Shopify, WooCommerce and Magento.
I am the Marketing Manager here at Veeqo and we are really pleased to have Jim with us today. So Jim, can you introduce yourself for those of you who might now know you, very quickly.
Jim Cockrum: Well sure, thanks for the invitation, it’s my pleasure to be here, and you can hear me okay, does the sound sound alright?
Prince: I can, yes
Jim: Great, okay. I started kind of playing around on the internet about 15 years ago trying to find a way to make some money to enhance the money I was bringing in from my real job, I actually used to work for Microsoft and I was working with one of their channel partners selling Microsoft software basically for a living, and it was a great job but I wanted to have my own business; I wanted to make a little extra money on the side so it all started for me on eBay and that’s been 2002 is when things really started to take off for me back in 2002, and this little side weekend hobby started turning into something much bigger and people started noticing, my friends and neighbours and people online who I was hanging out with were asking me “Hey how do you do this?” so I started teaching them how to do what I was doing and now we have possibly one of the largest organisations of people who use the internet in creative ways to make an income and its an ever growing audience of people who, with a lot of integrity and hard work we’ve built an incredible community of people who are having a lot of success using the internet in a creative way.
That’s the shortest version of my story, with a lot of interesting details along the way I’m sure, but that kind of tells people where I’m coming from.
Prince: Great stuff Jim. So what are some of the items you started selling when you first started?
Jim: Yeah, one of the most interesting stories is about a pair of shoes. Now, these particular shoes were Nike Air Jordans – you know, Michael Jordan the NBA player, right, when he first came out with basketball shoes, he was the first player to ever do that, to come out with his own shoes and I bought a pair of them, I actually play a lot of basketball, this was back in the mid 80’s, 1980’s and I wore these shoes a few times and the they were terrible, just terrible for playing basketball, they weren’t comfortable at all.
So I put them on a shelf, 10 years later I’m breaking them out and I realise these are worth a lot of money now, so I put them on eBay – this is one of the first things that I sold on eBay – and these shoes, that I paid they were on close out, maybe 20-30 dollars I paid for these shoes, and that was a lot of money for basketball shoes when I bought them, even on sale, but I put them on eBay and a guy in Singapore – I live in the united states, right – and a guy in singapore paid me $700 for these shoes and he paid for shipping too.
And I was hooked because I realised at that moment that having an international business was now easy, anyone could do it. Setting up a business and selling to customers all over the planet was now simple. And in the 80s it wasn’t simple and even in the 90’s it was a pretty big challenge to figure out to use the internet in creative ways – and the 80’s wouldn’t even have the internet the way we do now, so the 90’s these things started to come together and now, the age we live in now, it may seen like an obvious statement of fact to say anyone can have an international business, but I was there while the world was kind of waking up to that possibility, and I was seeing these things come into place.
So a pair of shoes is kind of what was a lightbulb moment for me, a pair of used basketball shoes that I made hundreds of dollars on for very little effort I knew that there was something special happening.
Prince: Great stuff. So this definitely a story everyone can relate to. So, Jim I want to know, what are some of the things you did to help you increase your sales when you first started?
Jim: Right, well, I realised pretty early on that it was going to take some work to find profitable items to sell on the internet, it’s not an easy business. You don’t just sign up for a membership to some wholesale list and then start ordering a bunch of stuff and sell it. It’s not that simple. You’ve got to be able to do little more work than what others willing to do. But once you’re willing to do a little more work than the rest of the world, the opportunity really opens up to you.
For example, I started selling event tickets in the united states – in most states of the united states I should say – we’re allowed to sell tickets to an event if we bought them ourself and we find someone who wants to pay more money for the event ticket, so for example I buy tickets for a concert that’s coming up in my hometown and I decide I can’t go to that concert a week before it happens, I can sell those tickets for twice what I paid, if I choose, to someone else that wants them. So I got into selling event tickets and I got really good at it that’s what I was doing on eBay.
And this is kind of how my story starts to transition into something much more interesting, it’s because started not only just selling the tickets, but all of these customers who are buying tickets keep asking me “Hey, how are you finding all of these great tickets, is this a business that you really run, I mean how do you do this?” so I wrote a book on how to do that business.
And that book did really, really well for me, that was my first information product. So I transitioned from physical products into information, which in my opinion is the most powerful product you can ever sell, although I sell a lot of physical products too, information is an incredible business model.
Prince: So you started selling sneakers online, then you moved onto tickets, and now you’re focussed on teaching other people to sell online. Would you say that’s a good summary of what you’ve done so far?
Jim: Um, well, I believe in multiple income streams. I actually have a staff of 8 people who do work for me every day. They buy product, physical product, to resell on eBay and Amazon. They find it, they list it for me, they sell it for me, I just watch the numbers.
As we’re recording this interview right now actually, my 18 year old is getting ready to go to work. He’s going to walk past my office here in a couple of minutes, he’s going to go to work, which is a house we rent a not far from here, where my entire operation runs.
We use the garage for storing the inventory; they shop online, they buy inventory from retail stores in the area, they find anything that’s profitable – that’s my ideal product, anything that’s profitable. If I can buy it for $10 or £10 and I can sell it for £50 or £50, that’’s a profitable product, we’ll buy it up, we’ll sell it, flip it on eBay and Amazon.
So, I still do a lot of that, but I don’t do it myself I’ve grown systems and teams to do that for me. But I sell a lot of physical product myself still, but I also do teach people; I have business clients that I’ve helped set up these types of businesses, so I do all the streams that I teach, I’m doing it myself as well.
Prince: Great Jim. So how did you get your big break when you first started?
Jim: You know, I think one of the things that occurred to me that never occurs to many entrepreneurs is this: it’s that instinct that we have to protect what we’ve built. So let’s go back to my ticket story for example right now okay, I’m selling tickets on eBay and I have people coming to me saying “Hey Jim, how do I sell tickets on eBay, how do I do this business, I like this,” I very easily at this point could have said “You know what guys, I’m not telling you my secrets; I’m making money here and I don’t want to necessarily create competitors for myself” right, that’s a closed-minded type of mindset though, and it shuts you out from a world of opportunities. Because if you’re willing to share your success story and how you got where you are, suddenly you’ll realise that the world opens up to you and you’ve got hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of people who want to hear your story and want to learn from you, and that is a huge business opportunity.
So I’m always giving away my secrets. Any time I discover something that works really well, I make a Youtube video, I share it with the world, I write a book about it, I add it to my courses, because there’s always more opportunity, it forces me to constantly grow and constantly be creative to stay ahead of my audience, right, but I’m giving them great content and that’s how my audience grows.
In this installment, we have covered Jim’s backstory on how he started selling; in our next installment of Jim Cockrum’s interview, we’re going to look at how Jim Cockrum improved his online selling strategy.
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