Selling — in person, or in media — usually involves getting three things right…

— You must have a compelling offer.

— You must get it in front of qualified prospects.

— And you must present it in the best possible way.

40% of the success of selling is based on the offer.

40% of the success is getting it in front of the right people.

Which means with just these two things, you’re 80% of the way to success before you ever open your mouth or write a word of copy.

But great copywriters are paid a fortune for that final 20% that closes the deal.  And great salespeople earn their commission in that last 20% as well.

Because even with the right offer and the right prospect, you can botch the sale in any number of ways.

And that’s the topic of today’s Breakthrough Marketing Secrets.

(With an homage paid in the title to my breakdown last week of the “Do You Make These Mistakes In English?” ad by Max Sackheim — because, why not?)

Mistake #1: You say too much.

My daily essays easily clock in at 1,000+ words.  My long-copy promotion for clients, 7,000 to 12,000.

It may surprise you that I’d start with this mistake.  But hear me out.

Saying too much isn’t about word count.  It’s about RELEVANCE.

The common refrain, when criticizing long copy as a strategy, is “Who reads all that?”

The answer: “buyers.”

Your challenge, in selling, is to give the buyer EVERYTHING they need to make their decision, but not any more.

Let’s take it away from copywriting for a minute.  Let’s say I’m in the market for a new car.  I’ve done my homework.  I know what I want.  I go to the dealer, and hook up with a salesperson.  I tell them what I want.  At this point, I’m a hot lead.  If they proceed to spend an hour explaining why I should like certain models, why I should buy from their dealership, why I should choose a certain color of car, and so on, I may just walk out.  But if they take me to the model I described, hand me the keys, and tell me to take it for a test drive, they’re likely getting the sale that day.

Alternately, if I’m in the market for a retirement planner and I’m just not sure what investment strategy I should use, what brokerage I should go with, and I have dozens of unanswered questions, I may need some time.  The best course of action for that salesperson may be to talk with me for quite some time to figure out how best to serve me, and then spend even a couple hours over the course of a couple meetings making sure I have all the information I need.

A common refrain from the long-copy camp about how long copy should be certainly applies here: “As long as it needs to be to make the sale, and no longer.”

Mistake #2: You shy away from specifics.

Nobody likes vague promises, or vague proof and credibility elements about why they should believe you.

Every claim or promise should be backed with specific proof and credibility elements that establish total and complete believability of the message.  (That link is to my training on the 26 types of proof, credibility, and believability that will help you sell better.)

Compare this: “We offer the fastest service in the city.”

With this: “In an independent secret shopper analysis, our emergency service techs were in your home 36 minutes faster than our closest competitor — and over 2 hours faster than average response times for our industry.”

Let’s say that’s for emergency plumbing repairs.  Which of those would make you more likely to call?

When you make vague claims, what you say is unbelievable.  Buyers need to believe you before they will give you money.  Therefore, be specific with the important details that need to be believed in order for the buyer to make their purchase decision.

Mistake #3: You’re desperate to make the sale.

There’s a strategy new restaurant owners will use when opening their restaurant.  They ask their friends to park their cars in the lot, to make it seem like there are people inside.

This is to convey a sense that “people go to this restaurant.”

And it speaks to a fundamental truth of human nature.  We want what other people want.  And don’t want what other people don’t want.

The way this plays out in sales is that the more you seem to need the sale, the less likely it is that someone will want to do business with you.  If you are desperate to close the sale, it sows the seeds of doubt.  “Why do they need this so much?”  “Why don’t they have more customers?”  “Why aren’t they already in demand?”

Think of a game of musical chairs.  If there were as many chairs as there were people, nobody would rush to fill the seats.  The game works because there are fewer chairs than people.  There’s more demand than there is supply.  Even one less chair than people playing the game creates a vastly different dynamic.

In selling, the novice thinks there are way fewer players (buyers) than there are chairs (the product or service being offered).  They see a handful of players and a hundred chairs.  This creates desperation.

The pro shifts their perspective, if not the entire dynamic.  They make it feel, to themselves and thus to the buyers, like there are fewer chairs than players.  This is abundance as opposed to desperation.

And it only increases demand.

Mistake #4: You’re boring or covering details too slowly.

This is probably the top trap that intelligent salespeople (and copywriters) find themselves in.

You’re interested in a topic.  You’re interested in all the details.  You want to tell the whole story — down to the little details.

You’re sure if you cover EVERYTHING, your prospect will surely have no choice but to buy.

And, you’re buoyed by my earlier arguments on the virtues of long copy.


Prospects have short patience for salespeople that are NOT engaging, even entertaining.  You have to keep it exciting.  You have to keep it moving along.

You’ve gotta keep the dopamine pumping, and make me feel like I’m discovering something new with practically every sentence you utter.

If you get redundant, or stuck on an idea too long, I’m out.

Mistake #5: What you’re saying is not new and unique.

This is one of the first filters every prospect runs your selling message through, and one of the fastest ways to lose ‘em.

If you don’t come out and immediately position yourself as something new and unique versus everything I’ve ever seen, I’ll lump you in with them (and I’ve already written them off).

Take the competitive investment publishing market.  The world’s best marketers compete there.  And are in front of your prospects pretty much 24/7.

Every prospect in that market has seen it all.

And so it’s a constant battle.  To position any old investment idea as something new, unique, and completely revolutionary.

Thus the copy technique, made popular by Mark Ford/Michael Masterson, of “neologizing.”

That is, wrapping up an old concept in a new wrapper.

And so something as simple as a direct investment plan, where you buy shares from the company itself, combined with dividend reinvestment, can get a new name, like “The 801(k) Account.”

Even if what you’re selling is THE BEST option for me, if it’s mundane and familiar, I’ll reject it out of hand.  So you have to find a way to put it in a nice little wrapper that will make me interested.

Mistake #6: You don’t frame your message to make it relevant to me.

This is all about understanding your prospect.

They have a certain view of the world.  They have thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, and a whole pile of other mental models that they bring to the conversation.

And for the most part, they have a system for NOT BUYING whatever it is that’s being pitched by any salesperson.

And so you have to have your own model that helps them make a buying decision in your favor.  You have to put a frame around their decision that aligns the buying process toward your offer.

From beginning to end, they want to know: why is this relevant to ME?

Avoid these mistakes and you’ll close more deals…

So let’s assume you have a strong offer.  And you’re speaking to a qualified prospect, ready, willing, and able to buy if you make a strong enough pitch.

Now, you need to present your offer in a way that makes it ultra-relevant to solving their problem and fulfilling their needs — WITHOUT making any of these mistakes.

Do that, and you may have a breakthrough pitch.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr