Tuesday May 13, 2014

Writing to Sell

How to craft effective sales copy

These things we know to be true:-

People love to buy – but hate being sold to.

To keep our businesses going, let alone growing, we need to keep on selling our products and services.

Life of a Salesman

It’s inevitable that we spend at least some of our working lives in sales mode. The sales dial can be turned up high and obvious, for example, pitching to a prospective client or direct selling at a trade fair, or soft and low when we’re relationship or reputation-building by networking or blogging.

We may not be completely comfortable with face-to-face sales situations but many of us get by, and some thrive, having developed various strategies to get us through. And in any case, in the moment, when there’s a dialogue going, you can adapt what you’re saying to the situation as it develops.

Winning ways with words

But what happens when you have to commit your sales effort into written form? When your offering has to be distilled into a one-off piece of sales literature – a sales letter, email or flyer?

How can you give yourself the best chance of getting people to read what you’re putting out there and converting readers into buyers?

They’re just not that into you

Always bear in mind that other people will not be as into your product or service as you are. They’re simply not that excited. Their interest will stem from their take on “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me), i.e. what’s in it for them.

Hot Offer in a roadside warning triangle

Straight to the point

Start by offering a benefit, tailored to your reader (and their particular need or dilemma), in the headline.

Know exactly what you’re offering and put it as simply and directly as you can. Be clear on the content and scope of your offer, the timescale: time-limited offers convey immediacy, and the price. Make sure everything you write is relevant and on-message, and don’t be tempted to over-write or over-state your case.

It can sometimes be worth including a simple positioning statement as a header, identifying the sector you’re in, something like “IT Support” or “Dog Walking.”

Self-knowledge is good but don’t go on about it

Have a very clear idea of what problem, issue, need or want your product or service addresses. Know who you’re talking to and tap into any potential insecurities or concerns they may have. Show how you can help and how much better they’ll feel for going with you, for example, by saving them time or money, or helping them become more efficient. You can also approach this by channeling FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – depicting a potentially undesirable scenario that could become reality if they miss out on your offering.

In all this, don’t go on about yourself – turn down the “we” and accentuate the “you.”

Build trust

You don’t have to do it all yourself! Let other people do the work for you. Show how great you are by using testimonials from satisfied customers. People like to know that what they’re buying into works – testimonials and social proof reassure them that you deliver on your promises.

What could go wrong?

There will always be objections, rational reasons why people may not buy from you.

Know exactly what these could be and address them. If space and style allow, do it in situ, or point your prospects to the FAQ page on your website.

Acknowledging resistance is another great way of building trust and it also creates space for your prospect to choose you – you’ve thought of everything and you’re already looking like you understand them.

Clear next steps

Finish off with a strong Call to Action (CTA) – an easy way for your reader to become your customer.

And, remember, keeping your sales literature short and sweet makes it all the more effective.

Feel free to leave a comment, and do say if you think I’ve left something out…

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