Sep 292010

I listened to Alan J Cole give a presentation on 8 Steps to the sale this morning at my first 4Networking meeting in Carmarthen. It was a very good presentation

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.


How one simple question can add 15% to your market takings

 Food producers, Selling  Comments Off on How one simple question can add 15% to your market takings
Jul 052010

Chickens in Turin market

Chickens in Turin Market

You're busy serving at the market stall. After you've handed the purchase over to your customer, what do you do?  Say thank you very much? Move on to the next customer?

There is a simple question that can increase your takings:

"Do you want something for later in the week?"

That's it. That's the question. I told you it was simple.

That simple question tells your customer that you can solve another problem.  Not just

"What shall we eat tonight?" but

"What shall we eat on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday?"

That simple question makes your customer look again at your display with a different question in mind.

And hey presto they find that those chicken thighs will be ideal for a casserole after Ceri has football training on Wednesday evening.

You have a responsibility to solve more problems for your customer.

Once you have sold once to a customer, if they are happy and return, then you have become a trusted 'problem solver". The customer will be happy to take your advice on future problems. You have a responsiblity to anticipate problems you can solve for that customer.

What if the customer raises a concern?

"Will they keep until Wednesday?" No problem, you are there, ready with the solution. Either

"yes you can keep them in the refrigerator", or "pop them in the freezer when you get home today and then just take them out on Tuesday morning and let them defrost in the fridge."

Happy, they make the additional purchase.

That customer's £12.00 spend just turned into a £18.00 spend.

If every third customer buys another £6.00 item you will increase your market takings by 15% just by asking one simple question.

How to sell more by making conversation

 Selling  Comments Off on How to sell more by making conversation
Apr 162010

I stopped at a surf shop on the Gower Peninsular over the holidays looking for some kit for my children.  It was a tiny shop and the owner was sitting outside enjoying the Easter sun.  As I approached he smiled and asked me how I liked driving my car.

I answered, he listened and we went into his shop.  I hadn't said one word about what I wanted to buy and the owner hadn't mentioned any surf products but already I was feeling good about being there.

As we tried on boots the owner and I discovered a connection with North Devon where his parents and my husband's family had all farmed in the 1950s.  While he pulled out different sizes for my daughter to try, he talked to my son about boards for stand up surfing and soon we had a good pile of products on the counter.

I was enjoying myself and left the shop with my arms full of stuff and a smile on my face.

What just happened there?

In a relaxed and friendly way, the owner of the shop connected with me.  He put me at my ease by having a conversation with me.  In just a few minutes he found areas that interested me by looking, listening and responding to cues.  

How did he do that?

First he asked about the car- the first thing he saw.  Then when I mentioned that we live on a farm he talked of his own family background in farming.  He listened to what I said and took his cues from that to develop a conversation. 

As we chatted I felt relaxed and comfortable –  happy to take my time in his shop.  I asked his advice on wetsuits, boots and boards and consequently bought several items.  In some specialist shops you can feel like you've stumbled into some secret society and you don't have the handbook.  You can easily be intimidated if you don't know the terminology.  Here I was entirely comfortable.

Why did he do that?

The owner has been running his surf shop since the 1980s and he has learnt that taking time to engage customers increases his sales.  Customers who are relaxed and chatty tend to linger and browse and are more willing to ask for help and advice.

Next time I'm at Llangennith on The Gower near Swansea I'm bound to go back to PJ's Surf Shop, because Peter, the owner did such a good job.  His conversation skills helped make a good sale on the day, and he has set up the right conditions for a future repeat sale.  If I need anything, I know I can get good advice from him.  So thanks very much Peter.

If you want to sell more and leave your customers with a warm glow, master the art of conversation.