Four More Actions you can Take

I’ve been looking at whether using “fear” has a role in your sales message?  If it does, there are two approaches:

The first is creating a “fear of missing out”; something is so good, others are doing it, and unless you catch up, you’ll miss out.

The second isfear of a villain”.  In this case, the bad guy is seen as a real threat, nasty and harmful to your prospects future.  Getting that clear in your prospect’s mind is up to you in your sales message.  Regardless of what you sell (product, service, fundraising, etc., doesn't matter) or whom you sell to, your product is the hero, riding in on his noble steed and slaying the bad guy.

You then need to demonstrate, and provide proof, that your product will be an effective solution to your prospect’s problem.

So following on from the last blog, let’s take apart how your sales message might convey either of these “fears”.

Let’s See where you can convey “fear”!

Don’t you just hate it – you write your sales proposal, submit it, and wait for a response, and wait, and wait, only to get a NO.

It’s simple really; a Sales Proposal that doesn’t lead to action is ineffective.  And being ineffective is a waste of your time, effort, and money. 

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Avoid the simple mistakes that so many make.  Fear may be part of the solution, but you will also need more.

My last blog examined the first three of seven common mistakes.  Here are four more actions you can take to make your Sales Proposal more effective.  And there’s an offer at the end.

Remove the Risk

The prospect is uncertain, she has doubts in her mind.  It all sounds very good, but ……   How can she be sure?

There are two things you can do to remove the risk; provide “Social Proof”, and a Guarantee.

Social Proof

As master copywriter John Forde wrote “Used right (morally as well as strategically), it [social proof] is a powerful tool for selling.”

Social proof is more than just word-of-mouth over the backyard fence in today’s on-line world.  In fact, there are four types of social proof you can use to strengthen your marketing, and you can use them whether you are writing sales letters, emails content for your website or advertisements.

I’ve written about Social Proof in an earlier blog “How to Use Social Proof to Increase Sales”

(Comment - Use Social Proof to demonstrate either Fear 1 – using your product/service they assuredly won’t miss out, in fact they’ll be ahead of the pack!

Use Fear 2 and demonstrate/prove that if they don’t use your product or service, the villain will win.  Use social proof to demonstrate how your clients have used your product, and triumphed!)

Guarantees

Somewhere, either just before the offer, or just after, when the prospect is hesitating, “Will I or won’t I”, remove the doubt that your product or service might not deliver what it promises by offering a guarantee.  This backs up the earlier social proof.

It might be a money back if not satisfied, or if it doesn’t do what it is supposed to do guarantee.  The important thing is that, while your guarantee could possibly be called on, you are much more likely to get increased sales.

(Comment – applies to both Fear 1 and Fear 2 in removing the risk.)

Presentation

You know your reaction when you get a badly written document – your thoughts are negative from the start.

(Comment – think really hard about this one.  Show through your presentation that you are ahead of the pack – Fear 1 – and your words, fonts, headers and images are confident, show leadership, and inspire confidence – see ‘Benefits’, and ‘Word Graphics’ below.   Leave people felling inspired.)

What will your proposal look like, visually that is?  Presentation is important.  And how will it read. 

A good presentation will make you look so much more professional, and the buyer feel more comfortable about dealing with you.  If the way your industry does things is a simple “price, quality, delivery” quotation here is your chance to make yourself different, and stand out. 

Some guidelines:

  • Headlines – it needs to be distinctive.  Size, colour, bolding.  It’s the contrast.  A headline must make the reader want to find out more, and not reveal so much they might not feel they need to read the proposal.  They break up the page and make your proposal easier to read.
  • Sub-heads – ditto but smaller.  The same comment as above applies.  Customers often scan a document before they read it.  The sub-heads will guide them and let them know what is coming.  They can be a different font from the headlines or paragraphs which assists the scan.  And they make it easier to find specific information.
  • Sentences - make your sentences short.  The easiest sentence to take in is only eight words long.  A sensible average is 14 words.  Any sentence of more than 32 words is hard to follow.
  • Paragraphs – keeping them short and punchy makes them easier to read.  No more than 2-3 sentences.  A long paragraph is daunting.  It should be kept to one subject.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • Begin sentences with benefits (when possible):

o    Instead of...Moving your money now will help you avoid major losses.

o    Try...You can avoid major losses IF you move your money now!

  • Dot points – make it easier to scan and grasp the points you are making, just as I have done here.
  • Word graphics – depending on what you are quoting, painting a word picture can help.  (Can you see yourself in that gleaming new, spotlessly clean stainless steel kitchen?) or (imagine if you had all the information you needed for that benches quote). 
  • Picture graphics – a diagram or photograph of what you are delivering will help clarify other questions they might have and help reduce the risk and increase the like factor.  “Before and after” photographs emphasise the benefits you are delivering.

o    Don’t forget the Captions – tell them what the photo is.  More risk reduction.

  • Spelling and grammar errors – they distract, and cause the reader to stop, and consider the correction.  Once they stop they lose the flow.

Just remember - as Dr. Johnson remarked over 200 years ago - "That which is written to please the writer rarely pleases the reader." You're not writing for yourself but for the prospect.  Make it easy for them!

Let it rest for a day and re-read it.  Does it still make sense?

Conclude with a Specific Call to Action

You need to explicitly tell them to do it, and why.   Don’t finish with a general “If you have any questions ….”  I used to do that.  It’s horrible.

You may tell you will contact them; date and time.  Or create urgency by limiting the time of the offer.  Be specific.

Use a P.S.

PSs are very powerful.  They can be used to summarise the benefits of your proposal, reinforce the proof, or the urgency or scarcity. 

Here are several reasons you need to add a P.S. in virtually everything you do, print, online, and email:

  • The P.S. is meant for those who are attention-challenged, and those who prefer to scan rather than read.
  • Many people often read the headline and then jump right to the P.S.  They concentrate on the beginning and the end, but hardly anyone ever jumps to the middle.
  • The P.S. can serve as a platform for the most important benefit. It’s just another way to reaffirm and drive home what is the most attractive aspect of your product or service.
  • For added urgency, the P.S. can be used to state a specific deadline or expiration date and increase the likelihood of a response.   “Act Now!”

(Comment - The PS is a great spot to reinforce your “Overcoming Fear” message.)

Could your Sales Message be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion.  Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your sales letters of proposals, contact me before the end of February.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.

Or buy "Small Change, Big Result", my manual on how to increase your success rate with proposals and quotations; make a few small changes, and reap the rewards.

© Copyright 2016 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

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