Onward and upward with my book on lead generation — here’s your next chapter!
Let’s continue with our journey into how to create a book as a lead generation and selling tool. Up until this point, I’ve focused primarily on the strategy that goes into this. Why it’s important, how it fits into your selling system, and the goals it needs to accomplish to be an effective selling tool.
Now, we’re going to get very tactical. There will still be some strategy. And there will be overlap with some of what you’ve read already.
The overarching goal, however, is to translate the strategy you’ve already read about into specific recommendations for how to go about getting the content for your book out of your (and/or your salespeople’s) head and into book form.
First, know this. If you’re like most people and you think of a “book,” you think of your average bookstore book. And by that I mean hundreds of pages of content that most readers will never get through. (A significant portion of books that are bought are not even started, and of those that are started, very few are ever finished.)
Your goal is consumption.
For a book to play an important and effective role in your lead generation and selling process — and ultimately lead to more sales and profits — it must be consumed.
It should look, feel, and be simple. Simple enough for your average prospect to not be intimidated to open it. This means fewer pages, simpler language, easier reading.
Your language must be conversational. Short and choppy sentences are encouraged (nevermind what your English teacher told you).
A colleague of mine — who runs a half-billion-dollar-per-year consumer publishing company — is a stickler for readable language. He analyzed readability against renewal rates of over a dozen editors’ financial newsletters. He found that even among well-educated investment newsletter readers, writing at a 7th grade level or below increased renewals. The same applies to sales copy. Easier reading leads to more sales.
Writing clearly is appreciated by even more intelligent readers — and leads to better business results. Using the Flesch-Kincaid scale, available through many readability checkers, you should aim for a grade-level score of 7.5 or below. Less educated markets may require even lower scores.
Again, you’re looking to make the book as easy as possible to consume. Your prospect will appreciate if they feel they can read the book in one sitting.
Along these lines, you’ll want to aim for less than 100 pages, with very few exceptions. That’s roughly 25,000 words, max. My first book was a little over 17,600 words, which worked out to 82 printed pages.
When a book is being used as a selling tool, your goal isn’t to create an academic treatise. It’s to cover enough information that the prospect feels like they got what they came for, and are ready to move on to the next step.
What should your book be about?
Just like you want the language and presentation of the book to be simple, you want the content to be simple, too.
That is, you want to focus the book around one core topic or narrative that’s relevant to your audience and moves them closer to the sale.
As I mentioned before, the best way to do this is to identify a pressing and common problem of your target market, and present the solution in book form.
That is, nearly every product or service out there is designed to solve some kind of problem. (Most people don’t actually like to have it called a “problem” — but they do have some kind of challenge or roadblock or unfulfilled need. For simplicity’s sake, we fit all of these under the catch-all term of “problem.”)
Before a lead or a prospect can decide they want your product or service…
— They have to recognize that they have the problem.
— They have to recognize that one or more solutions to their problem exists.
— They have to recognize that your product or service is one possible solution.
— They have to decide that your product or service is their best possible solution to the problem.
— Then they have to decide to solve the problem now by buying your product or service.
This is a very natural decision-making process, and takes place in most cases without your prospect even thinking about it. But by consciously building this into your sales process, and specifically, your book, you’re helping your prospect walk through the decision and predisposing them to doing business with you.
For this, I recommend following this very tried-and-true sales pitch and copywriting formula…
Let’s briefly cover each, and how it fits within your book.
First, you need to tell your prospect that they’re in the right place. What problem do you know they have, that you can solve for them? What outcome are they looking for, that you can point them toward?
Do they have any fears, frustrations, or failures they’re trying to move away from? Do they have dreams, desires, or a sense of destiny that they want to reach?
If someone wants to sell their house, maybe they want specific information on how to get the best price, in your city. If they want to have enough money for retirement, maybe they want to know options for safe ways to grow their nest egg. If they want to generate leads for their business, maybe they want a proven system for doing that.
In some cases, you’ll find your product has more than one problem it solves. For example, the IT training I used to sell. For one customer — the individual IT pro — they’re looking for career advancement and more income. For another — the IT department manager — they’re looking for an affordable way to keep the entire team’s skills current. In this case, you would do better picking one and focusing on them (and doing a separate book for the other customer).
Your goal in the problem section of the book — the beginning — is to firmly establish that you understand your prospect. You know what they want. You get their struggles. For them to trust that you have a solution, they have to believe you understand their problem. If you’ve been in their situation, even better. It’s far easier to trust someone who’s walked a mile in our shoes.
Once you’ve laid out the problem, it’s worth spending a little time really making it clear how big of a problem this is for your prospect.
What’s the worst case scenario? What’s a bad but far more likely outcome? What happens if they don’t take action to solve their problem? Or if they implement a mediocre solution?
A lot of salespeople are squeamish about presenting this kind of information. However, it’s incredibly effective in making the sale. The better job you do at presenting all the negative outcomes from not adequately addressing their problem, the more likely they will be to want to take action now.
Here’s where you start to setup the sale of your product in particular — and you can often do it long before even mentioning your product.
There are a lot of options for solving most problems. A good buyer in most markets has already investigated a lot of the potential solutions. They’ve heard all the benefits of different approaches.
They may also understand that there are downsides, but most likely the sales pitches from your competitors have tried to minimize them.
Here, you set up all the different decisions that may go into buying your solution, and explore the pros and cons. Your tone should not be overly-biased toward your solution, but you do need to help them understand the negatives of the different options in the market.
By the time you’re done with this section, you’ve created a set of buying criteria that your prospect can use as they investigate your solution, as well as that of your competitors. And, if you’ve done your job right, that set of buying criteria overwhelmingly supports the prospect choosing you over every other option available to them.
Here, in the final section of the book, you make it clear that your product or service does overwhelmingly meet those buying criteria that you’ve laid out.
It should be a natural progression into this. And if you’ve done a good job, you certainly don’t need to oversell yourself here. A simple, candid presentation of your solution and how it will benefit the prospect in all the ways you’ve established as ideal will be effective enough.
Now here’s how to turn this into actual book content.
So we’ve established a basic narrative flow you want to follow.
— You want to connect with the customer by acknowledging their problem, and speaking to it enough to really make it clear that you understand it.
— Then, you want to make it clear that you’ve thought longer and harder about the problem than they have, by sharing all the agitating factors related to not addressing it, or addressing it in an insufficient way.
— Then, you walk them through the possible solutions, important considerations in making a choice. And, importantly, invalidating alternative solutions to yours as inferior in some way.
— Finally, you present your solution, and how it meets the buying criteria previously established.
To map this narrative to your book and your business, I strongly suggest starting with an outline. Use the process described in the appendix of this book, “How To Get Your Best Ideas Out Of Your Head And Into The Real World.”
You’re going to create a mind map or an outline for the book, that walks through this narrative in a logical way.
Start with the four main bullet points: Problem, Agitate, Invalidate, Solve.
Under Problem, answer questions like:
— What’s the single-biggest problem my prospect would like to have solved, that I can help them with?
— Why is this problem so important?
— What would it mean to have this problem solved?
Under Agitate, answer questions similar to these:
— What are the consequences of not addressing this problem?
— What kind of lesser solutions would pose further problems for my prospect?
For Invalidate, these are good starters:
— What are all the factors that go into deciding on a solution?
— What other solutions are out there?
— What are the pros and cons of other solutions?
— Where do all other solutions fall short, that our product or service excels at?
— How does our product or service align with the buying criteria we’ve already established?
— What are the main benefits of our product, that have made our current customers chose to do business with us?
Also, don’t hesitate to throw in additional ideas you have about tips or other helpful items you can include, at any step of the way. Remember, if this is actually felt to be a valuable piece of educational content, your prospects will be more likely to consume it fully (which you want, because it will lead to more sales).
Spend a lot of time on the outline. Add important talking points you want to address. Run it past your sales team, or other members of your staff, to see if they have anything to add.
The better job you do on your outline, the more likely you are to end up with a great finished product.
Now, here’s how to turn your outline into a rough draft of your book.
I’m going to start with the easiest method. Even though I’m a writer, I actually used this non-writing method to write my first book.
Find someone to interview you. This can be a staff member. It could be a journalist. It could be anyone who you can get to sit down and interview you. Either turn your outline into questions yourself, or ask them to turn it into questions for you.
Then, sit down with a recorder, and have them interview you. You should plan on the interview taking one to two hours. You can have talking point notes about what you want to talk about for each question, but do not script your answers.
When the interview is done, get it transcribed. Each hour of interview will yield roughly 10,000 words of rough draft. More or less, depending on how fast you speak.
This is the single-fastest way to get the content of your book out of your head, and onto paper.
From here, you simply need to edit the interview to make sure everything is clear and said like you want to say it. I actually prefer, when using this approach, to present it as an edited transcript of an interview. That is, make it clear to the reader that it is a transcript (including using names of speakers, etc.), but that you edited it to make it a compelling read.
Alternately, you can do as I’m doing for this book, and write a series of essays, based on your outline.
Since I already write daily marketing and business essays, I find this to be an effective approach for me right now. This is a relevant topic, and easy to work into my daily writing schedule.
If you’re not a writer or the idea of regularly sitting down to write essays or chapters toward the completion of the book sounds daunting, I strongly suggest you go with the approach that turns a short conversation into the first draft.
Depending on what you’re willing to invest, and what you want to do yourself, you can have a book with very little work. Perhaps you can work with an interviewer to help you develop your outline, using the prompts above. Then, you send the recording to a paid transcriptionist, getting a rough draft back with almost no work on your part. This, you send to an editor, to clean up and check for readability. At this point, you have a well-polished second draft that you can make any final edits to, and you almost have a completed book.
In the next chapter though, I’m going to speak to a critical element that you almost never find in a bookstore book, that you will want to include in your book used for lead generation and selling.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,