0

The Danger of the Two Sales

The Danger of the Two Sales is a straightforward but not well-known marketing and sales problem that kills many new businesses.

Here's what happens to produce it:

Someone has a brainwave and makes a new product or service.

You see this all the time in the Software-as-a-Service world...but you'll also see it in products, such as a condiment.

Then the creator goes out and tries to sell the thing, and discovers nobody wants it.

"Why don't they understand how great this is?" they shout. After all, it's clear as day to them why people need whatever it is.

But the public, the target market, other people... everyone else just doesn't get it.

The now-frustrated creator gives up.

the danger of the two sales, unable to sell, positioning problem, marketing problem

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Understanding What Causes The Danger Of The Two Sales

What happened here?

The new business owner, fired up with the enthusiasm for their innovative idea, has dangerously bypassed the first problem in sales and marketing...

...identifying a problem people admit they'll pay to have solved.

This is the first of The Two Sales. You must make this first sale, and it is best if that sale is implicitly understood by your prospective customer before you begin talking to them.

In other words, the first sale is that your prospect admits there is a serious problem to be solved: one that they will pay money to fix.

If you haven't achieved this, you run a great risk of having your "solution" sound unnecessary or, even worse, nonsense. You'll ever make a sale in this situation.

The second of The Two Sales is that YOU are the best provider of solutions for this problem.

Can you see how if you blindly try to rush past the first of The Two Sales, that your target market agrees there's an issue here worth solving in the first place, your prospect will blink at you in confusion when you try to show off "your baby"?

Making Use Of The Two Sales

You might be astonished how often this situation comes up. If you keep the Danger of the Two Sales in mind as you begin, though, you'll be able to make use of it.

As a for-instance, I pre-qualify prospective clients for people who already believe that a metrics-based approach is good. For them to already be demonstrating they value numbers because they're collecting their own data—and aren't afraid of math.

So many newbie business owners are afraid of a little math.

When I do talk to someone about our services, I know they're already on board with doing some math...that they speak the language of marketing and operations results. I do not have to risk falling into the situation of trying to sell someone who just isn't into numbers and probably never will be. What a frustrating experience that would be!

Do you see how this directs your marketing?

Your marketing is best deployed in filtering in those people who already believe as you do. Then you can talk to those who qualify—those you've made The First Sale to—further about the details of your amazing solution.

Of course there are situations where a new problem and a new solution are very real. But you'll still have to deal with The Two Sales: before you'll ever make a sale you'll have to educate and convince someone, or get them to agree, that there is a serious problem in this area. Then you can move on to you being the best solution provider.

Many, many businesses have died an early death because their founders did not understand The Danger of the Two Sales. I encourage you to not be one of those founders.

>> Jason Kanigan is a business strategist and conversion expert. To book a session to speak with Jason, click here. <<

0

What’s Wrong With Copywriting?

I've been studying copywriting and writing for clients for over 20 years. In that time, I've seen some bad things I want to share with you...and I've evolved in my point of view about the subject. You should see that evolution in thinking, too. It'll save you a lot of frustration and probably some money.

The Main Thing Wrong With Copywriting

The main problem with copywriting is caused by two factors: the buyer and the seller. You ought to laugh because those are the key factors that cause problems in all poorly-accomplished sales, but I'm deadly serious here. Both parties come into the arrangement with utter misunderstandings of what's going to happen.

The buyer (usually a business owner or marketing manager) believes they are getting a magic bullet that will "get me more customers."

The seller (the writer) believes they are hot stuff and will "get you more customers."

That's where I was, from my start in 1995 through some time in 2012.

And I wasn't wrong. Not exactly. I mean, my copy is a heck of a lot better than what's typically on somebody's sales page or in their letter. So its performance is sure to be superior.

pieces of flair office space bare minimum what's wrong with copywriting

"What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?" Office Space, 1999: Fair Use

So Where's The Problem?

Just one problem: Traffic.

See, copy is about Conversion. That's the second piece of the money equation. And without Traffic, ie. eyeballs sent to view the conversion tool, the copy doesn't have much of a chance of accomplishing anything.

In the early days I would take on a job because somebody asked, I liked the topic, and they waved money in my direction. This is where most writers are at and what the market is used to.

On the buying side, the business owners and marketing managers are accustomed to this arrangement. "I need to get more customers," they say to themselves, and hire a writer. But they miss the fact that a good, steady, pre-qualified traffic source needs to be hooked up to that shiny new conversion tool...or there's no chance of success. And the writer, happy to be paid for their work, doesn't ask.

What Does This Misunderstanding Lead To?

This state of mutual mystification leads to what I call the "Throw The Copy Over The Wall And Run" approach to copywriting.

The buyer, believing copywriting is a commodity service, makes a low investment in the new conversion tool.

The seller, despite supposedly being an expert on positioning and persuasion, doesn't know what else to do when selling their services and accepts.

Can you read between the lines here and get a feel for the level of commitment to the project from both sides?

The buyer is expecting a magic return on a low investment: they're playing the lottery.

The seller has no motivation to stick around and work that project into something powerful: sure, they'll put their best effort into the draft they submit, but why should they continue to work on a project they haven't been paid much for?

Thus the writer does a little Q&A, some research, cranks out the copy in the fastest possible time, and throws it over the wall to the buyer.

"So long! Good luck!" comes their over-the-shoulder call as they run away in search of the next client.

And why shouldn't they?

What Needs To Change With Copywriting

The buyer hasn't made much of a commitment. As a result, neither has the seller. (I'm reminded of the quote from Office Space: "What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?" This applies to both parties.)

This right here is what's wrong with copywriting. Lack of commitment to a specific, measurable outcome.

I was conducting an audio interview of a fellow writer who was doing better than I was—he was getting into better business arrangements than I was, and works in niches I don't touch, too; maybe I should learn from that heh heh—some years back when I heard him say something that confirmed a concept that I'd understood for awhile but hadn't clearly articulated:

The buyer must demonstrate commitment to solving the problem and getting to a specific outcome.

In doing so, a good writer will recognize this commitment, and match it with their own effort.

In plain terms, what I already knew was that the first effort of a writer is likely to either fail or not be the best achievable result. That if the writer could stick around for just one, two, or three more iterations of the copy, the performance could be increased dramatically.

But What's Really Happening With Copywriting?

But what was happening? In reality, you know what has been going on. The buyer tries to hire for the lowest possible price; the seller, having little commitment, gives their best effort within the short period they can afford to give the project their attention, then moves on.

Over the wall and run.

Both get ONE chance to get it right.

And, if you've been reading carefully, you'll have noticed neither understands the nature of the money equation. That you need both Traffic AND Conversion to make it work. Writing alone doesn't accomplish anything.

The buyer believes that new copy alone will do the job.

The seller has tunnel vision and the cocksure belief that their copy is a moneymaker.

But where is the traffic?

Whether You're Hiring or Writing, Start Asking This Question

This is why my first question to prospective clients is: "Do you have a solid pre-qualified traffic source ready to go?"

If the answer is "Uh, I haven't thought about that..." or "My Facebook ads guy will figure that out," or "I'll be hiring a launch manager and they'll do that," it's an instant No from me.

I will not risk my reputation on an unproven idea.

I will not risk my reputation on a project without a good traffic source.

I will not risk my reputation on a client who can't afford traffic.

These issues appear frequently. Too frequently.

The business owner gets frustrated. I'm sure they go hire some low-priced writer after I tell them No, and are happy with the copy they get. After all, it's like having a template writer redo your resume: you get that "new car smell" for awhile. But not long after, when you don't have any traffic and nobody sees the thing, you discover it isn't worth very much.

The Dumb Arrangement That Makes Buyers and Writers Mad At Each Other

Buyers will get mad at writers at this point. And the writers may respond by getting mad back at them. But the outcome of the copy is not the writer's doing. Both bear responsibility for getting into a dumb arrangement: frankly, the copy didn't get enough views to determine whether it's any good or not.

What buyers and sellers need to do in the world of copywriting is to commit to a longer term relationship. Longer than the first draft the writer throws over the wall.

I have seen so many newbies over the years set up a funnel, put all the pieces in place, and then be shocked when something doesn't work.
The funnel breaks at every turn! The ads don't convert and you have to fix them. Then the opt-in page doesn't work well and you have to fix that. Then the email sequence doesn't persuade the readers to visit the sales page. You have to fix those. Then the sales page doesn't turn visitors into buyers...and you have to fix that.

The funnel falls down at every stage. Success requires both the buyer and the seller to stick around: for the business owner and the writer to commit to an outcome. Agree at the start what the statistics will be for a successful result, and commit getting there. This means the buyer has to invest in the seller so that the seller can invest in the iterative work.

The Change That Needs To Be Made In Copywriting

The writer can no longer throw the copy over the wall and run. They have to stick around. And the owner has to make it worth their while.

As a writer, this is the very reason you must get out of the scrape-and-chase mode. If you're always on the hunt for the next low budget client because you have to survive, you can never make this kind of commitment (buyers, are you paying attention?).

Up front fees are not the only solution. Royalties or a percentage of gross are other options—but, business owners, the writer has to TRUST YOU. Work on that.

This is what's wrong with copywriting. A basic misunderstanding of the nature of the work, what outcome will result, and what is required to succeed.

Needed and typically missing: a pre-qualified traffic source with sufficient quantity to reach the revenue goal.

Needed and typically missing: commitment by both sides to adjustment of the process until the goal is reached.

Let's get rid of the "Throw the copy over the wall and run" approach and fix what's wrong with copywriting. Please. Writers, will you commit to ensuring both factors above that have been missing are present in projects going forward? Those hiring writers, will you commit to the straightforward changes to hiring and making use of copywriters so that we can all work together on making the money you desire?

>> Jason Kanigan is a business strategist and copywriter. Book a call with Jason to discuss your project. <<

0

SPIN Selling for Online Sales?

Spin Selling for Online Sales

SPIN Selling for online sales? Does it work? HOW does it work? What are the benefits? And the challenges?

This is the topic posed by copywriter Corey Pemberton in his article How to Use the SPIN Selling Approach to Close More Online Sales.

Relevance of SPIN Selling for Online Sales

First, Pemberton summarizes SPIN creator Neil Rackham's findings:

  1. Hammering for the Close did not help sales of medium and high ticket offerings
  2. Objections are encountered less often by skilled salespeople, who prevent them early in the process
  3. Asking open-ended questions as a tactic by itself did not appreciably help conversions
  4. Closed questions, used properly and in quantity, can advance the sale as or more effectively than weakly used open-ended questions
  5. A consistent sales process streamlines the steps and cycle for completing the sale.

Where SPIN Selling shines is in the Discovery or Doctoring phase. Salespeople typically rush to the Close, presenting and demonstrating to anyone with a heartbeat. In SPIN, we want to find out whether our prospect values what we have to offer, and the underlying or hidden reasons why they want to buy it if so. This means pushing the Presentation phase and the Close to the end of the process, and doing some serious questioning with our prospect. No dialogue = no reason to buy.

SPIN's questioning methodology is outlined nicely in this diagram:

SPIN Selling for Online Sales

Challenge of Using SPIN Selling for Online Sales

You'll note there are four types of questions in Rackham's model (one for each of the letters in SPIN):

  • Situational
  • Problem
  • Implication
  • Need-Payoff.

Each is valuable and uncovers information a salesperson who rushes forward to the Close will not about why this prospect may buy.

But this leads to the challenge of using SPIN Selling for online sales, and the one big issue I have with Pemberton's article:

Pure online selling uses sales copy (text, video, audio scripts), which are one-way communication, to attempt conversions.

So how can the powerful questioning techniques advocated by SPIN Selling be made use of in online selling?

Advantages of Using SPIN Selling for Online Sales

Here's my answer:

Sales copy is frequently written with an avatar in mind. We could also use a Buyer Persona, which outlines how our customer buys. In either case, we enter the dialogue going on in our customer's mind--imagined or as best as we can simulate based on collected data--and duplicate that conversation using SPIN's format.

In other words, we write our sales copy using the process SPIN lays out.

Ask the SPIN questions, and answer them with the responses our ideal customer would give.

What Situation is my prospect in that screams they have a problem I can fix? And answer.

What Problem does this situation shove a Harrison Ford finger in the direction of my prospect having?

What Implications does this problem open up a bottomless pit of doom for my prospect about if my prospect doesn't jump to fix it right now?

What Need-Payoff does this implication lead straight to by the Yellow Brick Road if my prospect buys and gets started immediately?

For those copywriters wondering, "How do I fit the benefits of my client's offering into the product or service, and when do I do that?", this could be an extremely effective method. Get it right, and your prospect will be saying, "Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes!" to themselves all along the process. And when that's the case, how can they not buy.

>> Jason Kanigan is a copywriter and sales force developer. Questions about SPIN Selling for Online Sales? Comment below to let us know! And if you know someone who this discussion could help, please Like or Share! <<