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When it comes to selling, there are tons of tricks you can use, however, the best salesmen know how to persuade.
One of the most fascinating things about sales is that it is all underpinned by psychology. We rarely make decisions without thinking and, when we do, there will have been some psychological factor at play that stopped us from taking the time to consider our actions carefully.
Think back to the last time you bought something on impulse. It might have been a bar of chocolate at a supermarket checkout or trendy gadget online. Whatever it was, something at the point of purchase told you that the item in front of you was more valuable than the change in your pocket or the cash on your credit card.
The best salesmen know how to make you want something, and they will do their best to balance the value of what they’re selling in their favour. When it comes to marketing, this is the key skill you need to learn. Unfortunately, it’s often much easier said than done, especially when you first have to get people’s attention.
The Attention Economy
One of the defining aspects of the early 21st Century will no doubt be the power of the attention economy. We are still learning how the internet will affect our lives in the long run and the journey ahead will be long and problematic.
Whether you realise it or not, companies now rely so heavily on attention that they will negate accuracy to get it. The most common example of this is sensationalism, but it goes all the way through to outright lying. But why?
The internet is a do or die medium and, if you can’t get people to your site, then you won’t make money. No money means no business.
Imagine you are trying to start the internet’s most honest, fair and balanced newspaper. What will your headlines look like?
In the world of online journalism, balanced reporting is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Neutral headlines, don’t get clicks and sensationalism does. The same goes for marketing.
Here’s a little quiz to see if you can tell the difference between news and advertising from 9 headlines from The Sun Online.
The examples above go to illustrate just how closely journalism and sales copy are.
Journalism and sales are quite closely related in many ways. Both need to tell a convincing story, however, the crucial difference is that the journalist’s end goal is to inform the reader, while the salesman’s is to persuade the reader to do something.
The reason headlines and ads are difficult to distinguish, is because, at this point of the funnel, both are trying to persuade visitors. The journalists are persuading you to read their article and the affiliate marketers are persuading you to read their pre-landers. Hence, native advertising like this appears in a grey area.
The core skill of any salesman is the art of persuasion. They need to read their audience like a book and understand how to grab their customer’s attention. In the world of headlines, you only have a fraction of a second to convince them to click before they are lost forever.
Building Trust through Empathy
In order to convince people you are trustworthy, you need to be able to convince your customer that you understand their problems. In a world that increasingly values ‘diversity’ over similarity, companies are rapidly losing sight of this, but it is of crucial importance.
When was the last time you went to a party and thought, ‘Wow, I have nothing in common with anyone around me. This is awesome!’? Yet marketers keep feeding us this bull because it’s trendy. Forget it, the old tactics are still the best.
You need to speak to your audience on their level, show them that you understand what it’s like to be them and that you yourself are no different. You know what it’s like to wake up early 5 days a week and go to your blue-collar job. You know what it’s like when it gets to 5 o’clock on Friday and your boss puts a pile of TPS reports on your desk and says they need finishing by Monday morning. You know all of this, you’ve been there, you’ve done it, but you came out the other side and now, you want to help them to do the same.
Understanding your customer is really important, but knowing your product is paramount. The more you know about your product, the more you will know about how it can help your customers, regardless of their situation. Remember, everybody needs your product in their lives, they just don’t know they need it, and it’s your job to tell them.
Just as customer facing salesmen do, you can ask your customer’s questions. This is usually a good tactic for SEO as it allows you to stay focused and answer the questions people are asking. For example:
How do you get a red wine stain out of the carpet?
Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. You throw a little get together and the drinks are flowing. Unfortunately, one of them flows all over your new cream carpet. You try to shrug it off, but deep down, you know you’ll never be able to get that stain out of your mind.
Why did it have to be red wine right? Argh! Why can’t Sharon keep her damn glass in her hand? It’s so infuriating, right?
Well, it would be, if The Real Clean Company hadn’t just produced their latest deep clean product BLAMMO!
BLAMMO! won’t stop Sharon spilling her drinks, but it will mean you don’t have to worry when she does. BLAMMO! gets even the deepest stains out of your carpet. In fact, it’s all natural ingredients are perfectly blended to help maintain and care for your carpet. Providing it with a freshness and volume that will give it the fresh quality it had when you first bought it.
If you can properly target your audience and talk to them on their level, you will have them eating out of the palm of your hand.
If there is one thing a good salesman needs, it’s leadership skills. After all, it is their duty to guide the customer through the funnel and if a salesman can’t lead, then nobody will follow.
To be a great leader, you will need to have the courage of your conviction. That means that you will need to make solid claims that you can then reinforce. Using words such as, ‘maybe’, ‘possibly’, ‘might’ etc. show that you’re not willing to make the claim and this can cast doubt in customers’ minds. If you want to tell them something, then tell them. If you are unsure, then don’t.
Which of these two sales copies do think will be most effective:
If you’re hungry at work, then why not try the all-new deli-wrap? It might just be the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Roughly 90% of customers love it.
Hungry? Get the New Deli-Wrap. It’s 100% natural and 100% Deli-icious! Guaranteed to improve your lunchtime.
Uncertainty creates uncertainty, and the last thing you want is for your customers to be unsure because most people are naturally skeptical. Therefore, be confident in your message and your customer will be confident in your product.
If you’re not confident, then fake it till you make it. It is often easier said than done, but confidence is a skill which can be learned, and it’s a must for marketing.
Quiz Answers: B + C are ads, all of the rest link to news articles.