That’s a nightmare isn’t it?
I don’t need to tell you that sales are what keep your business alive.
You know it too – otherwise you wouldn’t be here.
So let’s cut to the chase…
There are “minor” mistakes that even the largest businesses make that costs them millions of dollars without them knowing – maybe they don’t care. Either way, it’s really sad to see millions of dollars leave the table every day.
But, there’s good news in it for you – you have a chance to grab the money that other businesses left on the table.
Because right now, I’m going to show you some tiny sales mistakes these businesses make and what you should do instead to wipe it clean off.
Before you proceed, I need to warn you that this is an in depth 3700 word post. In fact, it’s perhaps the longest on the topic of “Sales Mistakes” on the internet. So get ready to for a long read.
Now let’s proceed…
1. Selling Something or Nothing
I really hate this one!
How many times – with the exact same wording – has a restaurant waiter or a takeaway cashier asked you, “What would you like to drink sir/ma’am?” or “Any drinks?”
Doesn’t it happen all the time? More importantly, does it always work?
It’s a very soft way of asking you to buy a drink. Sometimes it works – sometimes it doesn’t.
It’s a poor way to sell drinks. Because by asking you that, he offers you a drink or nothing. Did you get that?
Lets back up a bit…
Pay close attention to what you read next.
First, asking “What would you like to drink?” is a lot better than asking “Would you like to have a drink?” or “Any drinks?” because in the latter makes it easier for the customer to say “no”, because he was given an option between “yes” and “no”.
But, when he asks you “What would you like to drink?” he wants to know what drink you would like. So, you’re likely to mention the name of the drink because he didn’t give you an option to refuse – he just asked you to choose what drink. The likelihood for saying no in this case would be less…
But, there is something better. In fact, it’s so better it has the possibility to increase your conversion rates by an average of 70%.
Let’s say each drink is priced at $5 each and 200 customers visit your restaurant daily.
Now let’s assume you do – what I’m going to teach you soon – correctly and achieve a 70% conversion rate, that’s 140 customers buying drinks every single day.
Multiply 140 and $5 for the drinks and you get $700 extra for the day. If you’re open all 365 days in the year that means you’ll make an extra $255,500 per year – that’s over a quarter million dollars just for changing a few words.
I don’t want to keep you waiting for longer… here’s the “secret”…
Give them a choice between one drink and another. When you do that, the customer will feel like they have to pick one. Instead of them thinking whether they should take a drink or not, you now have them thinking “should I get drink A or B?
This would look something like, “Would you like a coke or lemonade?” or “Would you like a soft drink or fresh juice?”
By applying this small change you can hopefully boost your revenues by sweeping the money other businesses leave on the table.
This doesn’t just apply to restaurants only… You can apply it to any business. Just remember to offer something or something else of equal value. Obviously, don’t offer something cheap against something expensive or a product in one category against one in another.
Here’s an extra tip… remember to test. Always be testing. If you run a restaurant you can have half of the waiters say, “Would you like a coke or lemonade?” and the other half say, “What would you like for to drink?” to see the difference it makes. If you’re operating an online businesses then you can split test your landing pages. Then whichever one wins, make it your “control” and test other copy against it.
ABT – Always Be Testing, don’t leave money on the table just because of a few words.
Oh yeah and for the record, I didn’t invent this… credit goes to Master Copywriter Elmer Wheeler and his book “Tested Sentences That Sell” that goes for almost $800 on Amazon.com, but you can download it for free…
2. Selling a Product
My kindle book is on promotion for limited time. Or, get my new course for a 50% discount. Or whatever you’re selling…
No one cares…
It’s sad – yet true.
People don’t care about your product they just want to fulfill a desire or solve a problem. Customers ask themselves consciously or subconsciously, “what’s in it for me?”
If you fail to present to them how your product will help them, then say good bye, because they don’t care about your product. Looks, texture, smells or costs are all secondary. As long as it doesn’t help them – it’s useless.
If I offered you tooth paste and told you about it’s features such as the ingredients and package color – would you really care?
Unless you were in the middle of the desert and in need of it then sure – but not in a supermarket. It would need to have superior benefits, such as, it cuts down brushing time from 5 minutes to 1.25 minutes and makes your teeth whiter by 10% every month – you would definitely buy it, because it saves time and it makes you look better when you smile – thus increasing your confidence. In other words, you bought it because of it’s irresistible benefits and not because of how it looks.
Okay, so maybe my examples were sort of weird, but I hope you understood that you shouldn’t sell your product features but instead sell an irresistible benefit.
3. Afraid to lose
When you show you’re not afraid to lose… you become trustworthy.
Here’s how… let’s say I’m selling a sales course… I’ll explain the benefits and talk about the course… then I’ll tell you who the course is for…
But, then most sales people just move onto the offer and guarantee.
They miss the most essential part for building trustworthiness because they fear they will lose customers and credibility this way… but it’s not true.
What I should have also mentioned was who should not buy the course.
When I do that, I instantly show people that I don’t just want to take their money and that I really care about their wellbeing and success… which I do by the way…
4. Being Rational
You thought humans are rational didn’t you?
Humans are the most emotional creatures you’ll find. Tell them a car will make them look good in front of people and they’ll pay a premium to get it. Tell them only celebrities go to Mr. Smiths Barbers and they’ll pay hundreds to get a haircut. Offer her a dress that will make her look like a Princess and she’ll have her credit card out instantly.
Pretty much like Shut up and take my money. People fight over the latest iPhone like crazy, they pay a premium for it just to satisfy their desires. Even though most people don’t know how to use all iPhone specification… they just buy it because it’s trendy and cool. Most people would do just fine with an older version or a cheap android, but that not appealing to their emotions so they don’t.
Are you still convinced humans are rational? You better not, or else…
Or else you’ll lose a load of sales. That’s what!
But, here’s what happens in the end…
After humans buy for emotional reasons, they want to justify it with rational reasons and that’s where the beauty comes in…
Ever seen those Car commercials?
Climbing mountains, screeching tires, revving engine and people staring as the car drives by. It’s all used to spark your emotions…. then… in the end… they throw in some stuff about the engine, fuel economy and all the other features that fulfill your rational needs.
So you can convince yourself you bought the car because of it’s awesome features…
Yeah… sure, you did…
Benefits connect with our emotions and features appeal to our logic.
If I told you about a V8 cylinder car, 5 seats, does 50 miles for the gallon, costs $100,000. It would be so dry and boring – you wouldn’t be moved at all.
Can you feel the difference?
Same car, only difference was the first one pushed our hot buttons for attention, power and pride… the second one was just full of boring features.
Moral of the story, start your promotion letters with sparking emotion and end with rational.
5. You’re Weak
So, you now know humans are emotional – They will buy whatever fulfills a desire or solves a problem.
But, there’s a problem…
Most of us don’t bother with getting to know our customers. Worse, we think we know them but we don’t know as much as we should know.
And here’s a little secret that isn’t a secret – getting to know your customer is hard work and that’s why most of us avoid it. People are always looking for some secret effortless way to get things done – they find it hard to believe that sometimes all there is to it is plain old boring dirty hard work!
[tweetthis]Sometimes there’s no Secret, it’s just plain old boring dirty hard work![/tweetthis]
Everyone does do some sort of research, but only the best sales people do their homework well. Not only do they get to know their customers so well but also their industry and product better than everyone else. As the quote goes…
“You can’t cheat the grind. It knows how much you have invested, it won’t give you anything you haven’t worked for.”
Now I don’t want to be vague and just tell you “go do great research” – I’ll show you where to find information and how.
We’re aiming to find irresistible benefits about the product you are selling…not just any benefits, but they have to be important enough to move the prospect. Then you also need to make sure that at least one of those benefits is unique – this will be your unique selling proposition.
You may feel that all this excessive research is unnecessary or that you know your industry, product and customer too well already. You’re not alone… most people think the same thing… but those that kept learning uncovered more benefits and wrote better sales letters than their lazy peers.
Here’s where you can do your online research…
Google, Ask.com, Yahoo Finance, HowStuffWorks, USA.gov, Nielsen.
Don’t just consume the results on the first page, dig into as many pages as you can until you find your irresistible benefit.
If you can’t find anything online then visit your local library.
Getting to know about the product:
- Speak with the product maker (or engineer) and record your conversations. (there are many things product engineers can overlook because it’s “normal” to them, so talking with them will uncover all the secrets about the product)
- Test the product yourself.
- Ask previous customers and ask them what they like or hate about the product.
If you’re not new in business then you can also look at the following…
- Customer support letters
After you’ve learnt a great deal about your product, industry and customer you can move on to the next part…
6. Sparking the Wrong Emotions
This post talks a lot about emotions and that’s normal – because selling is all about pushing people’s “hot buttons” and engaging their emotions.
In fact, there are 37 emotions that humans have which copywriters aim to engage.
The strongest five are:
If you hit the right emotions, you’ll create a strong connection with the prospect… increasing their likelihood for them to take action.
Emotion creates desire and desire leads to action…
Looks like this: Emotion > Desire > Action
Always take time to get into the prospects mind. What are his feelings, desires, beliefs about the product or what keeps him up at night? Don’t forget your prospect is a human and humans have emotions. When you start to look at your prospect as a human being with real fears, hopes and dreams (rather than just a number) you will naturally connect with him.
If you really care about them, they will care about what you have to say… you’ll earn their trust.
7. Afraid of Following Up
No one wants to be the pushy annoying salesperson – No one likes a pushy annoying salesperson. I hate them too.
But, following up is different…
When you follow up you just want to know what they think, you’re not forcing a sale.
It’s for YOU to get out of the dark… you want to know if it’s a yes or a no, so you can get it over with.
Obviously, you can’t follow up unless you have their contact details… so make sure you always collect at least one of the following details:
- Phone Number
Of course, don’t forget to ask for a first name to make things intimate.
Another golden thing to remember is never close the loop.
Here’s what I mean…
Usually when someone doesn’t buy or answer you messages you may end it with a good bye forever tone instead of a see you soon.
In real life, this would look like this:
Hope you’re in good health.
I’m follow up regarding blah blah blah and want to know your thoughts.
Are you satisfied with our offer?
Thanks for your time,
Does that sound like your typical follow up? Perhaps something to that nature…but can you spot the good-bye forever tone in that email?
Here’s another email I got from a New York development company on the 14th of December 2015…
We haven’t heard back from you for a while. I hope all is well.
I wanted to check if there’s any update with your project. If not, I’ll be archiving our emails so far.
Can you see the good-bye forever tone in this one?
It’s in the last sentence, “If not, I’ll be archiving our emails so far.”
The funny thing is that I’m still interested in what they are offering, just not right now. He just ended our relationship or at least sounded like he was ending it.
What he should have said in the end is: “No worries, I’ll try again if I don’t hear from you within 2 weeks.” or something to that nature… letting me know that he will try again… I would have immediately responded.
Anyway, back to following up…
How many times should you follow up and what are some good practices?
- Follow up as many times as you need to – but I wouldn’t do more than 5 unless it’s really important.
- Leave a 1-2 weeks gap between each follow up.
- Be polite and don’t accuse them of anything.
There are a few reasons people don’t respond the first time.
- They delay it for later, but then forget to get back to you… they may thank you when you remind them with a follow up.
- They are too busy to reply.
- People are bombarded with product offers so they may delete your email with the rest of the junk mail they get – either by accident or on purpose.
- They are simply not interested and don’t want to respond.
Whatever the reasons are – don’t be shy to follow up. Just do it! What’s the worst that could happen? No reply or a dry no? Perhaps even a sale… you never know. So don’t be afraid, there’s good money in the follow up business, but most people are afraid to go near it… don’t be one of them.
8. Not Doing the Thinking
Don’t let the customer think or solve what you want next. You should walk them through it step-by-step until the offer. How else is the customer supposed to know you want them to buy? You simply tell them, straight up – don’t be subtle.
When I want to sell “something” to you, I create a picture of how your life would totally change if you have my “something”. How it can make you the most desirable person in any gathering, how people will whisper things about you when you walk down the street, how customers will not only be addicted to buy from you, but they’ll regularly refer their friends and family to you. But it’s not all that great, there is bad news about “something”… you’ll need to get more space, hire more employees because it’s getting crowded. It gets even worse, your bank is going to increase your monthly account fee because… well… your revenues have quadrupled in just 17 months!
But, you’re not easily convinced with what I promised… so now I have to prove to you that “something” really delivers. So, I tell you about how John took his SaaS company from a $105,743 in revenue to $1,023,998 in just 8 months. I’ll show you before and after pictures with the dates on them. I’ll also show you John smiling behind his new shiny car holding “something”.
But, one example isn’t enough, John could have just been gotten “lucky”. So, I throw in 3 – 5 more case studies and testimonials such as this one from Michael:
5 years ago, the competition beat me down to my feet…I was fighting to earn just $21,500 a year… not enough to even pay the bills! After I met Zak, he offered me to give “something” a try, I went from $21,500 a year to earning $120,550 last month! All this happened in only 13 months. That’s not all! I’ve been featured in Inc Magazine as the 2nd fastest startup in Oklahoma! I get everyone’s eyes staring at me whenever I walk down the street… I’m a celebrity in my local area!
Michael – Founder of Michael’s Company Name
Now I’ve shown you enough social proof, so I close with my offer.
“Something” doesn’t just give you result, but it does so in record time. You’d expect “something” to have a 6 figure price tag, and it would be well worth A LOT more than that… but I’m not going to charge that…
Maybe $10,000? Nah!
I’m giving it away for $579… now that’s a steal.
But, even though this offer is perhaps the best you’ll ever see, you’ll start to get second thoughts… “it’s too good to be true” or “what if it doesn’t work for me and I waste $579?”
Even though I’m giving it away for not even 1% of it’s true price… I’m going to give you a 100% money back guarantee if you don’t make your money back within 30 days. So go and mail the enclosed order form and we’ll deliver “something” to your home within 3 working days.
Then I’ll sign the letter.
Product engineer of “something”
PS: Here I’ll give you a special limited time bonus if you act fast, so I make sure you don’t delay sending the form and I’ll tell you that this bonus will end in 12 days or something like that.
So there you have it!
A structure of a sales letter with all it’s pieces…
A sales letter showing you how a killer sales letter would look like (although I have to admit it was rather exaggerated).
I thought it was clever to show you how to write a sales letter by writing a sales letter – maybe it was clever maybe it wasn’t… that doesn’t matter anyway. The only thing that matters now is YOU implementing the structure of a winning sales letter.
But, maybe one example isn’t enough, so here… I’ll give you a pdf document with my all-time best sales letter that generated around $2bn in revenue.
9. Writing Too Long
No one wants to read a long sales letter.
Time isn’t money. Time is more valuable than money.
When time is gone, it’s gone. There’s no way of earning it back.
Most people don’t like to read…
Even when they do read… they are half-asleep while reading your letter. Most of us are like that – ask yourself, do you feel like jumping off your chair when you read a blog post/letter or are you sitting with slouched shoulders, tired from work and looking for a reason to close the tab?
Do your best to remove unnecessary detail – you can hire a professional editor if you please.
Keep your letters specific, simple and only include necessary information – no more, no less.
10. You Have no Passion
Exceptional content isn’t written without passion.
Imagine you had to recommend a restaurant to your family. Would you speak about it in a boring tone?
Of course not! You’d talk passionately about the food quality, the staff, the interior design and drinks etc…
They can hear the passion in your voice and they’ll be all pumped up with your passion…
Same way goes with selling… if you could do it with a restaurant, you can do it with your product if you use the correct structure, strike the right emotions and present an irresistible benefit.
Even if you don’t like what you’re selling, try your best to sound passionate… an artificial-like passion.
11. Being Too Good
You’ve graduated from a reputable institution, you’ve won several awards, ran the marathon. You built a $10+ million per year business from scratch…you’re what everyone can only dream to become.
But, there’s a problem…
You’re too good for the prospect… they can’t resonate with you “rich guy” examples and stories. You’re not credible because you don’t understand them and their “middle class” life.
Hopefully, you can prove them wrong… in fact you better show them your vulnerabilities.
For me that’s easy, because I’ve been horrible all my life and if I ever do achieve something in my life then frankly anyone can do it.
So, now you’ve got it. You know how to avoid the mistakes many business owners make that slashes millions of dollars off their revenue…
You have an unfair advantage over them AND you have money left on the table…
Now go and get it, because you can!
About the Author: Zak Mustapha is the founder of Foolishness File and the author of Undefeated Marketing.