Today, a deep, dark truth of human psychology…
If you’re a copywriter, consultant, or coach… If you sell services of any kind… This may be one of the most powerful principles you could possibly learn for increasing your income.
Frankly, before I applied this principle, I was working my butt off, writing two long-copy sales letters per month, to make about $4,000 per month in fees. That was when I could only manage to pull down $2,000 per project.
Today — about 7 years later — I charge a $20,000 fee to do roughly the same amount of work. I do spend more time per project — I’m not in a rush to get done to pay my bills. But I actually work fewer hours per week on client work, and am able to dedicate a lot more time to personal projects as well as family and non-work pursuits.
If I didn’t have such a sweet deal on royalties with my current primary client, I’d probably also be raising that fee this year, by at least $5,000 per project. Oh yeah, and not a penny of that fee counts toward royalties — I’m getting paid a percentage on sales, starting from the first dollar I bring in. (My royalty percentage has more than doubled as well.)
Now, I AM saying this to brag. At least a little. But I also want to illustrate the power of this principle.
Today, though I charge 10X what I used to, my average sales per project probably haven’t gone up by 10X (they have gone up though). My win ratio has definitely not gone up by 10X, as I was already pretty consistent in at least turning a profit for my clients.
What I have gotten really effective at is applying this one principle to how I sell my services.
Now, if you sell products or other items that are more scalable (such as software, information, etc.), applying this principle is a little trickier. However, you should absolutely know and understand it, because it is useful both in selling products as well as in other areas of your life…
Enough setup, let’s get to the good stuff…
The Pursuer versus Pursued dynamic…
In romantic relationships, courtship, and seduction, this is a common dynamic.
One partner plays the pursuer. They relish the chase, the hunt. This partner is actively trying to get the attention of the other partner. They’re trying to stimulate interest and desire, and get consent.
The other partner plays the pursued. They’re stimulated by being chased. Although their ultimate goal may be to be “caught,” the game they play can only go on as long as they are NOT. And so there’s a constant push and pull where they’re showing interest and desire, but not too much — and they don’t give consent until it’s been earned through sustained pursuit.
This dynamic also exists in selling.
In the classical approach to selling, the salesperson plays pursuer, and the prospect plays pursued. It’s the salesperson’s job to stimulate interest and desire, and to work up to another kind of consent — the order. The customer, by necessity, becomes the pursued, and their game is to keep up the chase, playing the same push-pull game of rejection followed by interest, until they finally give in and buy.
If you don’t master this dynamic, you will be a victim of it…
Many romantic relationships lose their spark because the pursuer versus pursued dynamic becomes old hat, and loses its novelty. While they may continue to play the roles, they grow desperate. Because the real tension that made the roles work in the “honeymoon” phase of the relationship is gone. Commitment kills the question as to whether the pursuit will be successful, and so even as the dynamic is repeated it loses its appeal.
But most folks have no freaking clue what’s going on, and so they just become miserable because that “spark” they once had is gone, even as they feel secure in commitment.
On the other hand, if you start to play with the dynamic, let yourself back into the roles, reintroduce the question as legitimate… There’s the opportunity to find the spark again.
Though many of us who consider ourselves to be “modern” think on a conscious level that we don’t like this game and the power dynamics it suggests… On a subconscious level we crave it, and so we play it anyway, whether we like it or not.
To bring the game back to a conscious level makes it interesting again, and can rekindle the flame of the relationship.
But wait — weren’t we supposed to be talking about selling?
We are, but in case the indirect lesson wasn’t so clear, let me state it directly. The same conscious choice to step into the roles of pursuer and pursued that can reinvigorate a romantic relationship can also make you a better salesperson.
If you choose to take the classic approach to selling, where you, as the salesperson, are pursuing the prospect, be honest about it. Consciously and openly take on that role. Tell them, with candor, that, “Just so we’re not hanging here in suspense, I do want to reassure you that, yes, I do plan on pitching you at the end of this call.” Say it tongue-in-cheek, half-joking but also serious, and you can get a laugh while making it clear that you’re as aware of the dynamic as your prospect is.
This also works well if you’re selling from the stage or via webinar — where you’ll do a pitch at the end, after a content-packed presentation. Making it clear up front that your goal is to make them want to buy after you’ve over-delivered incredible value in the presentation itself takes the anxiety out of it. Instead of focusing on whether or not you’re going to play the game, they can enjoy the way you play it, and relax into their role as the pursued.
And yet, there’s an even more powerful way to play this dynamic…
And frankly, this works as well in personal relationships as well as business, although I’m going to focus on the business for this section.
Once you understand the pursuer versus pursued dynamic, you will benefit by learning to flip it. In fact, knowingly and intentionally flipping the roles is one of the most powerful selling strategies you could ever use.
I’ll get to how this has helped me in selling my copywriting to clients in a minute.
But first, an example with very broad application. Back when I used to sell IT training, we had a technique we used that I knew worked at the time, but I didn’t really understand it in the context of the pursuer versus pursued dynamic.
We’d frequently get prospects on the phone who were on the cusp of making a buying decision. They would have done their comparison shopping, and known that their two main options were us and another competitor. And they’d challenge us, as the pursuer-salesperson, by asking us to compare ourselves to the competitor.
Here’s where we’d surprise them. We’d flip the roles. We’d tell them that if they weren’t sure, they should go buy the competitor’s training first. We’d reiterate our advantages over the competitor, but tell them that it was their decision. And that when they bought the competition’s training and it didn’t work for them, we’d be there.
In about 90% of cases, this closed the sale.
We took away their role of being the pursued, which their subconscious took as a signal to shift into the pursuer role. And then we told them the reasons we were worthy of being pursued. At which point the natural conclusion was for them to go ahead and buy right then.
Our confidence in being worthy of being pursued was magnetic — and by shifting them into the pursuer role (a rarity for customers in a selling situation), they were irresistibly attracted to our confidence.
How to use this to sell services — and how I used it to make 10X as much per copywriting project…
… TO BE CONTINUED…
I’ve just realized I’m well over my 1,000 to 1,200 words target as well as my allotted writing time for this essay, and I want to make sure I do this next part justice. So you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the conclusion of our exciting tale.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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