This is the issue I have been waiting for this week.
Read every word. That’s a requirement.
What I’m about to share with you dramatically increased my success. The application of this one principle is my biggest secret behind charging 10X more now than when I my copywriting business.
Every time I’ve applied this principle thoughtfully, intentionally, it’s boosted my income.
Wherever I’ve seen it applied elsewhere, the person applying this principle invariably has an income double, triple, even 10X or more than their peers.
Those who are are Dan Kennedy fans will recognize the name from his book, No B.S. Sales Success In The New Economy. Those who don’t have that book would be smart to buy it immediately. I’m reading it again.
Today’s lesson is on Takeaway Selling, and here’s what it is…
Done right, this will create an enormous demand for YOU and whatever it is that you offer.
Even from the beginning, you’ll likely be speaking with more prospects and dealing with more leads than you ever have before.
(In fact, that describes what happens any time you step up the promotion of yourself and your business.)
Especially if you’ve had very few leads and prospects before, the natural inclination is to jump all over them.
Your attitude, of course, is one of helpfulness. Of service.
You want to help them. You’re pretty sure you can. And of course, helping them means more moolah for you, so of course you’re motivated to engage with your leads and prospects.
And in fact, when sales is taught by rank amateurs who are more interested in TEACHING selling or SUPERVISING salespeople than actually going out and closing deals themselves, this is how selling is taught.
It’s how it’s portrayed in media and pop culture. The salesperson as the gregarious, zealous helper/closer (depending on how much the writers like salespeople in real life).
At the most basic level, the salesperson is seen PULLING the prospect toward them, and toward the deal.
You’re forgiven if you’ve made this rookie mistake. It’s not your fault.
The bottom 80% of all salespeople think this way. And even if you take the top 20%, the bottom 80% of those probably still have a lot of this stinking thinking built into their approach. (They’re just better at it than the bottom 80% of salespeople.)
All-in, it’s probably the bottom 96% of all salespeople who are stuck in this PULLING mindset. They think that to close deals, they have to pull the prospect along.
So, it’s not your fault if you’ve fallen into this common misconception — but it is your responsibility to FIX IT going forward.
When you look at the very best of the best salespeople, they are successful specifically because they DO NOT sell this way.
The best sales people do create systems and procedures (mostly or completely automated, one-to-many, scalable) for pulling leads and prospects in through the front door.
This includes lead generation systems into webinars and other educational selling presentations. Lead generation into free book offers. Lead generation into information products, publications, and memberships (newsletters, mastermind websites, group training, etc.). Anything where they can deal with 100 leads and prospects as easily as they can deal with one.
But as soon as the prospect is in through this front door and needing personal attention, the rock star salesperson switches from PULLING the prospect in (using automation) to PUSHING the prospect away.
Rather than trying to make it easy on the prospect, they put up barriers and obstacles to the sale. Limited access. Applications. Purchasing requirements.
They literally force their prospects to jump through hoops to do business with them.
And it works.
This is totally counterintuitive. But once you understand the psychology behind it, it makes total sense.
Why takeaway selling works so much better than everything else…
We humans are strange creatures.
We do stupid things that make ZERO logical sense.
This especially shows up in two places, sex and selling.
This isn’t a daily email about sex, so I’ll let you come up with your own examples (hint: what logical sense does cheating make?).
Let’s focus on selling.
Think back to when we were kids. Or, if you’re a parent like me, think of your own kids.
Somewhere along the line, usually at about age two, kids develop their own opinions about things. They assert their independence.
And often they do this in areas where it makes zero logical sense at all. They are two, after all.
Last week they loved to eat grapes. This week, because they want to be independent, they decide they no longer want to eat grapes.
You give them grapes. “No,” they say.
You reason with them, “But last week you liked grapes!”
“You need to finish your grapes to get dessert — there’s only six of them!”
Completely irrational, and all about defiance.
Then, you discover reverse psychology.
“You better NOT eat those grapes, because I want to eat them.”
Suddenly your two-year-old has six grapes shoved in their mouth, and you have a different problem.
We have a perverse desire to want most what we can’t have, and to doggedly pursue what others tell us we shouldn’t or can’t pursue.
(Side note: one of the single-biggest drivers of the world’s most successful people — often a hidden demon — was the person or people who told them “no,” that they were worthless, or that they’d never be a success. They succeeded not for success’ sake, but to stick it to their doubters.)
When something we want is put in front of us then taken away, we’ll work harder to get it — just to say we got it — than we’d ever work to get it if it were freely available.
It operates on that same reverse psychology principle.
Now, let’s look at how to do Takeaway Selling like a Rock Star…
First off, I feel the need to reiterate that you DO need to actively drive leads and get them interested in what it is that you offer.
In order for takeaway selling to work, your prospect needs to want what you have in the first place.
The trick of it is to do whatever you need to do to put yourself out there, without making yourself available.
I’ve done this successfully in networking and meeting settings. Just because you’re AT the meeting, networking event, or seminar doesn’t mean you’re available. These kinds of settings are definitely the best place to do this one-on-one, when and if you must.
Even better is do one or more of the following…
First, publishing and appearing in media is smart. Podcasts, email newsletters, and so on can cause prospects to work their way forward. Just make sure you create them in such a way that 1) they attract your ideal target prospects, and 2) they communicate what you do and why someone would want to work with you or buy from you. The same thing applies to appearing in others’ media — make sure you’re bringing the right people out of the woodwork, and that by the time they come to you they understand what they would hire you for and why.
Second, creating a publishing business that drives prospects to you is smart. Follow any big marketing guru for long enough, and you’ll see that this is exactly how and why they’ve built their businesses.
Third, the shortest path, build a sales funnel that gets your ideal prospects to come out of the woodwork, educates them on what you do and why they should give you money, and gets them to raise their hand and express interest.
These last three examples all have a distinct advantage.
Each is a way for you to deal with, pre-sell, pre-qualify ideal leads that takes roughly the same amount of work and effort to process 100 or 1,000 leads as it does to handle 1.
And so what you build to bring your first 10 leads out of the woodwork and get them to raise their hand can be scaled up to 100 or 1,000 or more, as your bandwidth allows. Also, since they don’t require significant time-per-lead, they can run largely in the background, delivering a steady flow of leads to you, without you going out and doing a lot of active “selling.”
Now this is the most important part…
As soon as you get someone who is INTERESTED in what you offer enough that they want to move forward and start to have the buying conversation…
You need to start throwing roadblocks and obstacles in front of them!
I have a little side project I’m working on now, where I want to host Boardroom Dinners, like Marty Edelston was famous for, and like Brian Kurtz hosted for VIP attendees at The Titans of Direct Response (I sat next to Joe Polish and across the table from Gary Bencivenga).
I’m doing my own version, in my area, and want to have them sponsored by local businesses, allowing me to offer free attendance to 16 to 20 “leaders” within my community.
I’m designing the sales structure for it now, and for both attendees AND sponsors, I’m going to require an application process.
For attendees, I have a few reasons for this. I want to make sure they’ll make compelling dinner guests, who will help fill the evening with stimulating conversation. And because they’re getting it free, I want to throw a few barriers in front of them to make sure they’re really interested and will show up.
The sponsors may seem strange, though. Forcing someone to apply to give me money?
First and foremost, this telegraphs demand (even before there is none). If they must apply, it must mean that there’s more demand than there are sponsorship spots available.
Second, it allows me to be picky about who I let through. The subconscious message behind an application is that there is criteria to an ideal applicant, and I will be looking for it. It makes it easy to say no, for any reason.
Third, if everyone else tells them “yes” automatically, I’m made more interesting by telling them “no.” What’s behind the locked door is infinitely more compelling than what’s sitting out in the open.
The list of advantages go on. And they’re just as compelling when you’re picking copywriting and consulting clients as they are when selling sponsorship spots at dinner.
In addition to the online application, I’ll be doing a phone screening. This applies to both attendees and sponsors, again.
Attendees may be obvious. I want people who are as interesting to talk to as they are on paper. Since the dinner is a social affair, I want to get a feel for their social self.
Sponsors, maybe less so. First, the sponsor will be a guest at the dinner, so there is that. But if for no other reason, taking it away from them by adding another roadblock makes it all the more compelling.
But also, the phone screening will be scheduled and conducted in a way that forces them to comply to my time and scheduling restrictions. It will force them to fit in the box that I create for them, making them ready to follow my rules. Since I want to have control over how the dinner is structured, and maintain some control of the conversation, it’s necessary that I’m taking this kind of control of the selling process.
Doing all the work of convincing them in the selling process gives them control there, and it will be hard to take it back after the sale. By not letting them buy until they’ve shown they will follow my rules, I’m controlling the sales process and will keep control throughout.
The more you do to try to qualify and close a prospect, the more their inner two year old fights it and tries to disqualify themselves.
The more you try to disqualify a prospect and push them away and not let them buy, the more their inner two year old will fight you to let you take their money.
In this particular instance, the application and phone screening will be sufficient takeaway selling tools to meet my needs.
In other settings, you may wish to do more or less.
In copywriting, I started scheduling my time months’ in advance (right now I’m booked through August), and requiring a 50% deposit on my fee to secure a spot on my schedule.
Dan Kennedy famously won’t do project work for you until you’ve done a paid day of consulting. And that, you have to jump through many hoops to have gotten to in the first place.
Others are content to stick in an “application” as a first method of contact for a prospective client to reach them, after which they’ll get on a call to discuss the deal.
In general, the more you do, the fewer leads will make it through your process. But, the better the leads will be who did make it to the end. If you have an infrastructure in place (assistants, telephone sales reps, etc.) to handle more lower-quality leads, you may prefer fewer steps for the lead to speak with a live person. If it’s just you, it may be smart to set up many layers of obstacles so only the best leads get through — and make up for any low numbers by adding as many people into the front end of the funnel as you need.
Okay, I’ve already spent far too long on this — but that’s only because I was packing it full of value.
Now go out and do something with it!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,