One of the principal concepts taught in our workshops is that a salesperson must always answer the following question in the prospect's mind:
"What will it do for me?"
Because when selling is stripped down to its most basic level, this is the only question that remains.
Be assured that regardless of whether this question is asked, the prospect is always pondering it. We teach our clients to imagine that the prospect is holding a sign that asks "WWIDFM?" at all times.
To answer this question, you must tie features of your products, services and information about yourself and company to the benefits for the customer.
But, as with most salespeople, when that same salesperson is face-to-face with a blank computer screen instead of a prospect, the image of "WWIDFM?" tends to dissolve. Whether you're struggling to write a sales letter, brochure or online marketing copy, picturing the reader holding a sign that asks, "WWIDFM?" is just as important as when you're face-to-face.
If anything, our written words must convey benefits even more than our spoken words; in person or on the phone, a customer can ask us "WWIDFM?" or the equivalent. But, when our written messages don't answer this question, relatively few prospects will bother to seek out the answer, particularly if they find it written in a competitor's material.
Fortunately, if you put forth the effort to write from a "WWIDFM?" perspective, your writing will likely provide you with a competitive edge.
But, "WWIDFM?" is only the beginning of what the seven steps of the Track Selling System can do for your sales writing (and so you know, everything you write in business, even an internal memo, is sales writing because it's written to motivate people to act in a specific manner).
You can use these seven steps as a checklist for everything you write for your clients and prospects:
At first glance at the piece, the reader should like you and your company, and be prepared to react favorably to the details. Even something as simple as a typographically distinctive and highly specific "Re:" line on a letter makes it easier for the reader to immediately grasp its significance.
The reader qualifies himself. Make it easy by being clear from the start what you're offering. If you're clear, the reader either thinks: "Yes, this is something that could help me," or "No, I don't need to read this." Unfortunately, many sales pieces are written such that the offer isn't clear from the beginning. Consequently, most readers don't dig any deeper. Never disqualify prospects by failing to get to the point.
- Agreement on need:
Include questions or implied questions that cause the reader to nod, "Yes, that's my situation." For example, in some of our direct-mail pieces to CEOs and VPs of sales, we will include a checklist detailing scenarios in which the Track Selling System could mean the difference between failure and success. We might ask, "What would a minimum of a 20 percent increase in sales mean to your company during a stagnant economy?"
- Sell the company:
In this same direct-mail piece, we often include several brief stories of how the Track Selling System has helped clients and testimonials from those who've benefited.
- Fill the need:
The piece then details the specific features of our service and such resulting benefits as: increased sales, reduced sales cycles, increased customer retention, etc.
- Act of commitment:
The key to writing about this step is to know what you seek, and not lose track of it during the writing process. Are you offering an inexpensive product or service and seeking an immediate sale? If so, provide detailed information along with the specific steps and contact information for placing an order. Or, are you seeking an appointment for a presentation of a big-ticket product or service with a relatively long sales cycle? Then the "less is more" philosophy usually works best. That is, convey just enough information to create an interest in learning more about the product because too much information can easily turn off the prospect.
- Cement the sale:
Whatever act of commitment you seek, include words that assure your reader that by making that commitment, good things will follow. For example, you might want to close with, "Be assured that by selecting our (name of product/service), you will increase sales, save significant time and money, reduce turnover, etc."
Just as they are during conversation, your clients and perspective clients are always asking "WWIDFM?" every time they read your written communication. Formulating your writing around the Track Selling System's principles can help you answer this question and increase the likelihood of a favorable response.
Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.