It’s Monday — that means it’s time to open up the mailbox and answer YOUR questions!

So — you wanna sell but you don’t want to feel like a slime ball?

I really think that’s at the heart of today’s question.

But we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, our obligatory reminder… That — today being Monday, and this being Breakthrough Marketing Secrets — this is our weekly Mailbox Monday issue.

Here’s what that means — for the benefit of all the new readers who’ve joined us since last week…

Mailbox Monday is the weekly essay where I answer YOUR most pressing questions about business, selling, marketing, copywriting, human nature, the meaning of life, whatever…

Simply shoot your question my way — to [email protected] — and you may see it featured in an upcoming issue, with my response.

Okay, enough intro…

Here’s today’s question!


I rarely do this but since your emails are so personable I figure I’d give it a shot.

My question is this: how do you write copy that sells and makes profit without making it sound too salesy?

Have a great day!


First: What the heck does “too salesy” mean???

Okay, I have to go straight for this, right out of the gate — and challenge the fundamental premise and the language used in this question.

YES, I’ll get to a whole pile of tips I’ve brainstormed that I believe will help you accomplish what you’re looking to accomplish here.

But first, “too salesy.”

When I put a selling message out into the world, I have one measurement regarding whether or not that message is successful.

What’s that measurement?

If you guessed “sales,” you’re right.

And if a message makes sales, is that considered a “salesy” message?

(And as a quick reminder, my favorite definition of marketing and advertising is the modernification — yes, I made that word up — of the ol’ Claude Hopkins definition… Marketing and advertising are sales multiplied through media.)

So, whether I’m selling one-on-one, in-person, or one-to-many, through media, my goal is the same…

I’m looking to create salesy messages!  That is, I’m looking to sell!

And I really think that while you don’t want to look like a slime ball in selling — which is another issue in itself — that you need to be careful about the language you use.

Because if you go around saying you don’t want to be too salesy, you might just end up not making very many sales at all…  And I really don’t think that’s your goal.

Alright, with that out of the way…

Let’s get into my hot tips!

  1. What is the purpose of the sale?

When you think of your business as a direct marketing business, applying the many principles I teach in Breakthrough Marketing Secrets, you emphasize customer lifetime value.

And while this can feel like a cold and loveless metric — after all, it’s about how much money you make off someone throughout their time doing business with you — it really represents something else.

Money is a tool used to exchange value.  And in order for you to have a higher customer lifetime value — especially spaced out over much time and many transactions — it means you contributed a ton of value to the person.

That means you have a relationship with the person, based on an exchange of value.

You give them something they see as more valuable than the money they give you.

So the purpose of making a first sale to someone, when viewed through this lens, is starting that relationship of value-exchange.  And starting in such a way where they feel like they got a great bargain.

Most non-direct-response businesses think of making the sale in a different way.  They think of making the sale as their one opportunity to extract the profits from the person.

The first step to not coming across as a slime ball is to re-conceptualize the purpose of making the sale as starting or continuing a relationship of mutual value exchange.

So, what does that look like?

  1. Be a human being…

Most novice marketers who really start to understand marketing metrics (and some grizzled old vets of the industry, too) can get lost.

They think of a marketing campaign as an input-output device.

They spend $### to get ### people to see their marketing message.  As a result, $### in sales and ## customers come out of it.  In an ideal world, the $### that they spend is less than the $### that they get.

It’s all very mechanistic and inhuman.  And when it’s mechanistic and inhuman, you can start to try all the most manipulative and slimy things possible to try to maximize your ROI.

But remember this…

Every $1 of the $### that comes out represents a decision being made by an individual human being, who is like your brother or sister or mother or father or son or daughter, your partner or your very best friend.

Would you want your partner — your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend — to be manipulated in the way you are manipulating with your marketing message?  What about your closest family member?

If not, you’re probably doing this wrong.  Yes, you MIGHT make some moolah, but you are not laying the foundation of a real human relationship.

Which leads me to…

  1. Truly care about the person you’re selling to…

I’m guessing that if you’re even asking this question, you don’t treat people you care about in a slimy way.  I’m guessing you treat them with care, respect, dignity, compassion, love, and kindness.

When you speak to someone you love and care about, do you try to force them to do something that’s not in their best interests?  Do you try to manipulate them to do things that benefit you and not them?

Didn’t think so.

If you treated them this way, it wouldn’t be love, kindness, and care you were showing.  It would be something else.

Instead, you focus on what’s best for them.  You try to take their perspective on things.  You try to understand them.

And when you’re trying to get them to do things for you, you position it based in their needs and desires, and show them how it benefits them to do what you’re asking.

Which brings us to…

  1. Be preeminent…

The word preeminent here is a nod to Jay Abraham’s Strategy of Preeminence.

Basically, you should be selling products or services that are the best possible solution for the prospect, to solve the problem you lay out in your selling message.

This rests on two fundamental premises.

First is the premise that you’re able to match your offer to their needs, wants, and desires.  There needs to be a match here before you even consider selling to them.  In the context of marketing, of course you can’t speak to all your prospects.  But you can present the problem-solution narrative in a way where if someone identifies with your presentation of the problem, the solution is clearly connected.

Second is that your offer represents the best possible solution.  Of course, “best” can have lots of meanings.  It could be the best-value solution.  Or the best-fit solution.  Or the best-features solution.  Or the best-performance solution.  There are many contexts here.  The key is that when you sell it, you need to present the clear advantages your offer has over the competing offers, and make it clear which buying criteria add up to make it a best fit.  When someone agrees with your buying criteria, the natural conclusion is that buying your offer is the best decision.

Going deeper…

  1. Understand their needs, desires, and challenges…

There is one product type that gets more patent applications and has more outstanding patents than any other.  Go ahead, guess…

If you said mousetrap, you’re right.

“Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.”  If I remember right, it was Emerson who said that.  Or at least who gets credit for the quote.

Unfortunately, that assertion has been the bane of thousands of inventors through history who’ve legitimately identified “better” mousetrap designs.  A quick Google search tells me there are over 4,400 issued patents for mousetraps.

However, the market doesn’t have a need, desire, or challenge around mousetraps.

In short, buyers don’t really care.  The cheap, disposable, spring-loaded wire and wood design that’s been standard for our entire lifetimes (and was invented in 1899) is good enough.

You have to find out what people want to buy.  What problem do they want to have solved?  What opportunity do they want to pursue?

As soon as you are speaking directly to that, talking about something they care about and actually want, you don’t have to resort to manipulation or sales trickery and sliminess to persuade.

When you talk about what people already care about and desire, they’re going to care about what you’re saying and desire your offer.


  1. Have conviction that yours is the best possible solution…

Back to the “best possible solution” bit.

I made the point above that if you can establish a set of buying criteria that uniquely favors your solution, you’ll find it much easier to sell.

Do your homework.

Consider all potential options.  Competitive products.  Other potential solutions to the problem your product solves.  The DIY approach that your prospect might consider.

Dan Kennedy’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP) question is: “Why should I, your prospect, choose to do business with you, over every other option available to me, including going with a competitor, doing it myself, or choosing to do nothing at all?”

When you find the right answer to that question, it’s easy to present that with confidence and conviction.  Because you’ve identified a truth about your product (or service) that makes it superior, at least on certain grounds.

When you present with conviction, it means you don’t have to worry about coming across as slimy.  You’ll have a natural and unmistakable confidence that you have something valuable to offer.

That is attractive to buyers.


  1. Be okay if they walk away…

Bad salespeople believe closing 100% of your leads represents total sales success.

Great salespeople know that some people are just not a fit.  And people who are not a fit shouldn’t buy.

Yes, you want to sell more.  But remember the whole relationship bit.  You want to sell more to people who will get more value out of your offer.  And who will then be likely to come back for more, well into the future.

For everyone who is not a fit, you want to figure that out ASAP.

By disqualifying, you’ll have happier customers.  Those who do end up buying will be more convinced of their fit and the value of your offer for them.

Everyone will be more happy.

So: make it a goal to disqualify prospects as fast as possible, and encourage the folks who aren’t a fit to walk away.  Either to find another offer with you or a partner/affiliate, or to simply wish them well on their quest for a better solution.

Then, double-down and spend more time, energy, and resources on better serving the best-fit prospects and customers, who will get the most out of your offer.

Final thoughts…

If you follow these seven tips, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll ever come across as slimy or “too salesy.”

You’ll simply be acting from a place of integrity where you’re confidently presenting your products or services, matching them to the known desires of your prospects.

Prospects will be interested and desire what you have simply because you’ll be speaking to the buying criteria that makes sense to them.

And then, even as you present your offer and ask for action, your conviction that it’s the best solution and the integrity of your beliefs and sales presentation will make you maximally persuasive.

If someone is not a great fit, they’ll have the opportunity to acknowledge that, and will likely walk away before they start to think you’re being slimy.  And for those who are a great fit, even your most impassioned plea for action will be recognized as such and not as questionable and manipulative sales tactics.

The sum of the above represents a mindset shift in selling.  When you get it right, it’s a true breakthrough.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr