One thing particularly stuck in my mind:
Agreeing is easier than deciding.
Alan was talking about how much easier it is asking for agreement in a sales conversation rather than asking for a decision.
He explained that to agree with something takes less effort than making a choice or decision.
"Let's go to the beach, okay?"
"Shall we go to the beach or the lake?"
The first question is easy to answer. If the idea appeals to you and you have no other plans then it's easy to say yes.
The second question requires more consideration. You have to visualise your day at the beach versus your day at the lake. What would the questionner prefer to do? Will you have a better time at the beach or the lake? Is there a hidden agenda here? Is there a wrong answer? Oh dear. Not at all straightforward. Much more mental effort is required.
What if I make the wrong decision?
One of the reasons we don't like making a decision is because we don't want to make the wrong decision and look a fool. Giving agreement is far less risky. Someone else has already made the decision, stuck their neck out and paved the way for you to follow.
How can we relate this gem from sales conversations to copywriting?
This got me thinking. How does this work in copywriting? Crucially a sales conversation has at least two people involved whereas the copy you write for your website or direct mail letter, stands alone. You have to do the talking for both sides of the conversation.
Yes we can compare copywriting to a conversation. If you watch someone reading, you can tell from their body language if they are engaged or not. If the message resonates with their concerns or aspirations, you will see first, increased levels of attention, demonstrated by leaning forward and staring intently. If you really hit the mark you may see someone nodding.
That is 'agreement'.
This happens when you have identified the reader's main concern or problem. Before your sales message can have any effect, the reader has to know that you are talking to people like her.
Let's say you are a book keeper. If you begin by saying how many years you've been in business and how quickly and accurately you can 'do the books' you may or may not grab your reader's attention.
However if you begin by saying,
'Does your heart sink when it's time to do the VAT return? Do you put it off to the very last minute and begrudge every hour you spend on it? Isn't it time to consider outsourcing?'
If your reader recognises her situation in your opening lines, then you have her attention. She knows you're talking to her.
If your message hits the mark, she will agree, that you not only recognise her problem, but that you have the necessary solution.
She'll be nodding.
So the lesson we can learn from sales training is that in copywriting, you can ask for agreement as you go along, so that when you 'call your reader to action' at the end, their decision is already made.