How I Changed a Copywriters Mind About Selling

There are already enough marketing manuals and marketing e-books online to make King Kong feel like a midget. Most of them are called “How to write killer advertising copy” or “How to write adverts that draw people to your product like bees to the honey jar”. Not to mention half a gazillion e-books and manuals called “How you can make money on the Internet by selling products called How to make money on the Internet”.

Haven’t You Ever Wondered Why There Is Hardly Anything Online About The Actual Sales Process? Could It Be Selling Become A Dirty Word?

Or even worse, could it be that lots of the so-called experts just don’t really know the difference between selling and marketing? Advertising is simply salesmanship in print (salespersonship just didn’t sound right – sorry!). Advertising has one purpose: to generate sales. It serves no other purpose.

If you disagree, read “Tested Advertising Methods” by John Caples, or Claude Hopkins books “My Life in Advertising” and “Scientific Advertising”. You’ll be left with no doubt.

I had this argument with my friend, heavyweight copywriter Chris Bloor (someone who could sell ice to Eskimos by mail order). Chris disagreed with me. His position was that great written copy was where it’s at.

That Was Until He Heard What I Have To Say Next …

I told him that, like salespeople, there’s both good and bad advertising and good and bad copywriting. Good advertising copy draws buyers to you. Its effectiveness can be measured and the results identified. Unlike sales people, direct marketers rely on high volumes of visitors or readers (traffic). Success in selling relies on high quality prospects, not volume. (That was the statement that got Chris’ attention.)

As with sales, the goal is profitable revenue. Bad advertising is just that. It doesn’t get the phone ringing or the Clickbank account swelling.

When you buy books about copywriting, they give you a formula to follow. The formula is really quite simple.

What they ask you to do is to record your sales presentation and then write it down.

Of course, that’s all well and good as long as you truly understand the sales process, but what if you don’t? If you can’t sell, you can’t use the formula.

A simple truth is that most people get selling and marketing confused. There is a fundamental understanding necessary here - that is that Selling ISN'T Marketing. So the fundamental lesson is first you have to understand the sales process.

There are only a certain number of people you can see to sell to in any given week. Depending on what you sell, that may be as few as five people or as many as 100.

And, unlike an advert, a website or a direct sales letter, the sales process is interactive.

From this two-way dialog comes an understanding of the process.

You need to learn to read the buyer’s response from their body language, from the questions they ask and the answers they give to your questions.

With that understanding, you can start to write copy. You build the copy around the framework of your presentation, including the questions and your replies along the way.

The process of the sale is like a good story or a movie. It has to have a beginning, middle and an end. Even the best Internet marketers will tell you that a 2-3% conversion rate from your site is good. But as a salesperson if you only made 2-3 sales from 100 presentations, you’d be worried wouldn’t you?

A good sale is based on trust. That’s why McDonalds succeeds. In a strange town if we have a choice of Greasy Joe’s Diner or McDonalds, we choose McDonalds. Trust. Whether you like McDonalds or not is not important.

The sale is also based on you the vendor having an understanding of the buyer’s needs and wants. It depends upon the buyer’s ability to make a decision and on their capacity to pay for what you sell.

How often have you tried to sell something and had the response “Thanks but no thanks / we’ll think about it / call me next week / have to talk with my partner”?

Then, when you tell someone that you’re not making sales, they suggest you should learn some ‘sales closing’ techniques. That’s when as a sales manager and trainer, I scream. It's about as effective as my teenage son giving Michael Schumacher driving lessons!

Let me ask you this – would you be confident with your accountant or attorney if they didn’t keep up with changes in legislation? No? Should your customers by happy with you if you don't keep track of trends in selling?

Now ask yourself this – how many books about selling did you read last year and how many do you plan to read in 2004?

Make a bold new start to 2004 by keeping up to date with your profession. Learn effective processes that don't make you sound like yesterday's snake-oil salesman. Start the learning process now and start making more and better sales tomorrow!


James Yuille is best known for taking a straightforward approach to customer generation and retention. His sales career started when he sent a direct sales letter to a potential employer who hired him without even interviewing him. For 33 years he has generated new business in a variety of markets; representing multinationals and small business with both products and services. He has sold the 'unsellable' and has taught hundreds of salespeople how to improve their results. He provides practica...

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