One of the reasons very few people ever get very good at selling (in person or as a copywriter) is that they think they’re selling something that they’re not…
And this applies to just about anything you’re selling.
We’re taught, when we learn to sell, that we need to know “features and benefits.” That a compelling presentation of the product’s features and benefits will make our prospect buy.
And on a very simplistic level, if all other conditions are right, that works.
It works well enough that big dumb companies can spend a ton of money touting features and benefits, and do pretty well.
It works well enough that novice salespeople can build their pitch on features and benefits, and not get fired for selling too little.
It works well enough that C-level copywriters working for C-level clients can write an ad based on benefits, and it does okay so everybody is happy.
If you’re content being forever novice, getting middling pay for mediocre results, you can rest on the laurels of features and benefits selling.
If you want to move mountains, you need so much more…
To the very best salespeople, the product’s features and benefits are largely irrelevant. Yes, it has to do what it says it’s going to do. A good product is a boon to selling — and the best sales people only want to sell great products, just so their customers don’t get let down in the end.
And yet, the very best salespeople don’t actually “sell the product.”
It sounds cliche, but the very best salespeople sell the future.
Every prospect has a set of dreams, desires, and a perceived destiny they see for themselves. This is everything they want to be going right tomorrow. This is everything they want for their future.
This can be future health, future wealth, future leisure, future opportunity, future relationships, future possessions… Future anything.
They want to live in that future.
Also, every prospect has a past full of frustrations and failures, and a fear of a bad future. This is everything they wish they could leave behind as they move into the future. They want to close the book on their frustrations and failure, and ensure their fears never come true.
And they want it to all happen magically, without any effort or exertion on their part.
Your challenge as a salesperson (in “print” or in person) is to link your offer to these deeper drives…
Even better if you do it by leaning on the possibility that they won’t get the future they want without you.
Now, this falls under the “Is he evil or does it just sound that way?” category. To exploit your prospect’s fear of a bad future can be seen as quite a nasty tactic.
And yet, if 1) you believe what you’re selling is legitimately the best way to live that better future, and 2) playing to their fear means the most people will avail themselves of your effective solution…
It’s worth considering that it might be wrong NOT TO.
If my two-year-old daughter reaches for a hot pan on the stove as she tries to “help” cook dinner, I have to put the fear of a searing burn into her head so she doesn’t feel it in her fingers.
What are your prospect’s dreams, desires, and imagined destiny for themselves? What stands between that being a hope and dream for their future, and that being reality?
How are their frustrations and failures holding them back? What will make their worst fears come true?
How can you speak to that in a way that your prospect will pay attention to?
You can’t go around like Chicken Little shouting that “The sky is falling!” But you can come close…
… If you come across with integrity and credibility — enough so that you are believable to your prospect.
Paint the picture of the worst-case scenario. Bring evidence, proof, demonstration. Show them how the worst-case can become very real.
Get them emotionally agitated. The more real, and present, and urgent it feels that their dreams and desires may be just outside their reach, the more emotionally-committed they will become to finding a solution. The more they begin to suspect that their fears will come true, their frustrations and failures will continue, the more they will want salvation.
Then, you promise a miracle.
Again I risk sounding evil and emotionally manipulative. Maybe I am. But if you’re selling products and services you believe will bring your customers a brighter future, this is what ensures you’ll get those helpful products into the most customers’ hands.
People want to believe in miracles.
You may think you’re above it. You may think you’re too rational to believe in miracles. You may think miracles are the stuff of dead religion and superstition.
And yet, secretly, subconsciously, you do want to believe.
We all do.
Despite any and all evidence to the contrary… Despite any past disappointments in “snake oil” miracles that didn’t pan out…
We want to believe.
And so as much as your product or service can be the secret miracle that will help your prospect avoid their dire fate and propel them into the future of their dreams, you must sell them that.
Paint a picture of a future in which all their greatest dreams have come true…
Your product must be the turning point, the miracle, the magical solution to all that threatened the future they imagined as their destiny.
They must see — as if they’re living it now — the future in which the product has already vanquished their fears, frustrations, and failure, and brought them to their dreams, desires, and destiny.
This is what people really want.
Forget features and benefits.
This is what people buy.
A few quick examples…
Every four years Americans go to the polls to elect a new President (and more often for other political leaders) hoping everything will change — even though it continually doesn’t.
Every parent who sends their child to college does so out of a fear they will have raised a failure, and with the belief that paying tens- or hundreds-of-thousand in tuition will miraculously turn their child into a success — even though there’s no guarantee.
Every person who takes a pill from a doctor hopes it will miraculously make their symptoms disappear and cure their ills — even as that doctor is prescribing a chemical with wretched and well-known side-effects.
It goes on.
We want a brighter future. We desperately long to avoid pain and agony. And we look to the miracle makers to do it for us.
That’s human nature.
The question is, will you use it to help your prospects choose to buy products and services that will actually help them live that brighter future?
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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