One of the reasons salesmen get a bad wrap is NOT just because of the pushy, obnoxious types.
It’s also because of the sleepy, disinterested ones. Weak salesmen. The ones who don’t give two figs about you. The ones who speak with the enthusiasm of a cashier at the DMV .
Their attitude? “Take it or leave it!” (preferably leave it).
These salesmen are hated because they make it hard for interested prospects to buy. They make it hard for prospects to get relief.
Often a bad product is the reason for a bad sales pitch. As Michael Gerber said in the E-Myth Revisited, “Nobody takes pride in selling Cheetos.”
While a terrible pitch usually accompanies a terrible product, there are exceptions. Sometimes an unmotivated salesman is trying to hurt his boss, regardless of the product’s quality. It’s an internal issue.
Good salesmen are pleasant people
The thing is, even shoddy products usually contain at least ONE benefit, something that some people would pay for. Benefits are highly subjective.
Fred Herman famously sold Johnny Carson an ashtray in front of millions on late night television. Sure it was staged, but not in the way people assumed.
They had expected the world’s best salesman to pummel Carson with strong-arm tactics, weird mental tricks, and desperate language. When he didn’t, they were outraged at his understated pitch:
- “No way he’d get me to buy!”
- “It couldn’t be that… easy!”
- “Selling is much harder in REAL life!”
What most people don’t realize is that sales is an exchange based on perceived value. The person who gives you money values your product, more than their money. You value their money more than your product.
Selling always comes down to identifying your target’s pain points. That’s what Fred Herman did to Johnny. You won’t be able to identify anyone’s pain points if you don’t know them intimately…
… and that’s the rub.
Weak salesmen HATE their prospects
Yes, hate them. They aren’t willing to try to understand the prospect’s POV. They’d rather speak at them, about the benefits THEY think are important, looking for a quick win.
When that doesn’t happen, these salesmen mentally check out. They come to work on autopilot, going through the motions, brought back to life for a few seconds only when someone accidentally buys.
Like weak salesmen, weak (or tired) copy is only a symptom of a larger problem. That problem is either the company or the copywriter.
The company is the problem if they’re not willing to bend on important customer issues like price, warranty, and technical support.
The copywriter is the problem if he or she can’t come up with a convincing reason for prospects to consume the content.
Regardless of product, there’s no good excuse for weak and boring copy.
BTW, sometimes a positive lift at the end of a conversation or sales letter is enough to compensate for a dry and dull delivery.
What won’t work in sales is an abrupt switch in tone. You won’t fix a weak pitch by pouring on the scarcity language at the end.