What The Best Sales Closers Taught Me About Selling Online
I started my entrepreneurial career in the Summer of 1982, selling door to door.
Some would call it ‘hard selling’.
But, the master sales closers I met, made it look easy.
Prospects fell in love with them.
They never had to close anyone hard.
Truth be known, I wanted to be like them.
I learned a lot from these early sales mentors.
Strategies and techniques that has made me a lot of money, both offline and online.
You see, being a commission only sales person is really not that different from being an Internet Marketer.
They both get paid by results!
First some clarification…
To succeed in sales you have to convince your prospect you really care…
Selling is not a battle with a winner and a loser, it is an encounter with either two winners or two losers.
This is an essential clarification, one that is often missed by people who do not understand the true ethos of selling and persuasion.
The most successful sales people really care about their customers and this comes across in everything they say and do.
Selling is not about tricking anyone, it is about helping people own products that make their life better.
Persuasion is not manipulation – manipulation is coercion through force to get someone to do something that is not in their best interest.
Persuasion on the other hand is the art of getting people to make decisions that are in their best interest.
This clarification is essential, because without it you will become nothing more than a Conman or woman!
Finally in this introduction, I should also tell you about the salespeople I admire most…
To succeed at face to face selling is great but my ultimate admiration goes to those Master Sales Closers who master the art of selling from a webpage, email or in PRINT!
15 Things The Best Sales Closers Taught Me About Selling Online
#1 Prospects rarely buy the first time you ask.
One of my early sales mentors explained that all the best relationships start with a No. (Apparently his wife had refused to marry him a number of times before eventually saying yes)
And so it is with selling, you will hear No more often than Yes.
How does this apply to making money online?
Consider an email sequence for a typical product launch…
a) a launch email… telling you about the product. Explaining how it solves a particular problem or pain. Normally, there will be scarcity, limited numbers of memberships etc available. This will be your first opportunity to buy.
b) a followup email telling you of a success story related to using the product and a reminder of everything that is included. Another opportunity to buy.
c) a FAQ type email, listing questions people are asking followed by answers. Another opportunity to buy.
That’s only three emails, most product launches consist of 5 – 6 emails – especially in the last few hours of the promotion.
And most of the sales come in the last few hours of a promo!
It is human nature to procrastinate, delay, put things off.
It was that way for me as a young rookie salesman back in 1982 and it is still the same today.
In a recent affiliate promotion I was party to, 12.5 % of the sales came from the first email, a further 25% on the second email but a whopping 62.5% of sales came on the 3rd email.
Imagine how things would be if the affiliate had only sent one email? And imagine what may have happened if the affiliate had emailed 4 times or even 5!?
Let me be clear, I do not advocate pressure selling.
However, if you believe your subscriber or prospect will benefit from your product and it is in their best interest to own it, you should take the time to explain your offering in detail and why it is in their best interest to own.
In any case, if your subscriber does not like your offering or is put off my your emails, they can unsubscribe. The best internet marketers actively encourage subscribers to unsubscribe if they are not a buyer.
If your products helps people save money, make money, lose weight, live longer or enhance their life in any way, customers will thank you for helping them to buy!
The best sales closer believes they are doing a disservice if they do not close the sale and the prospect is has to buy elsewhere.
The top sales closers are almost evangelical in their belief in their product offering.
#2 Top Sales Closers, use Questions to Sell
I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time a sales mentor told me selling is asking, not telling.
He was quite clear – telling was a waste of time!
Asking was where the money is!
As soon as I started applying it my sales skyrocketed!
What concerns do you have? [What is the pain? Why are you looking for a new car today? a new home? ]
What’s the most important priority to you with this purchase? [The No 1 thing they want to fix / solve]
What prompted you to look into this?
If you are selling offline and responding to an Internet inquiry ask:
How did you find our website?
9 times out of 10 the answer will be via GOOGLE.
You then ask, what search term did you use to find us?
The answers you get, allows you to adapt your sales presentation to the prospect rather than reciting some ‘canned sales pitch’
Above all, asking questions, removes pressure in face to face selling.
How does this apply to selling online?
Clever copywriters ask questions in sales copy. However there is one important distinction…
Only ever ask questions that prompt your prospect to give the answer you want.
In sales copy the answer should never be ‘I don’t know’.
Here is one particular style of questioning you will often come across…
It is the open-ended question: “Who else wants __________________?”
This type of question works because it implies lots of people are already getting X result.
“Who else wants to learn these secret copy-writing strategies?”
“Who else wants to learn a second language in 30 days?”
Of course questions need not be exclusively about making sales.
Many Internet Marketers use surveys to research buyers motivations prior to creating a product.
#3 Top Sales Closers Know Facts Tell but Stories Sell
The best sales people LOVE to tell stories … and they are great at telling them.
People remember well told stories and in a competitive sales situation the best story teller wins!
Telling stories sets you apart from your competition and make you stand out.
Better still combine that story with the benefits of your product and you will create a memorable and positive association with your product in the customers head.
All the most successful companies have a great story (or two)
A great place to start is with a Founders story…
How the founder came to create the product. (often driven by a personal requirement)
Stories create curiosity.
Stories allows your prospect to experience ownership of your product or service in the present moment.
Stories gives you license to say things to your prospects that might otherwise be risky or too personal that in turn trigger powerful emotions that motivates your prospect to buy.
and above all…
Stories allows you to make a personal connection with your potential buyers.
How does this apply to Internet Marketing?
Every great Internet Marketer has their own unique Founders Story.
What is yours?
Why did you create your product? What is the pain are you you are fixing?
Tell your story!
#4 The Best Sales Closers are Great Listeners
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” – Epictetus
If you stop and really listen the prospect will tell you why they should own your product. Especially so if you guide them with the right kind of questions. Importantly, the less you talk and the more you listen, the less pressurized the sales environment will be.
#5 A confused mind says NO!
The top sales closer is clear and concise in their communication.
The best sales closer talks low and slow.
They are not the fast talking salesperson that popular culture would suggest.
Talking calmly and slowly makes it easier for your prospect to listen and believe you.
If you talk too fast and in a highly pitched voice, you will come across as pushy and not trustworthy.
The top sales closer takes the time to explain everything in detail and clearly before asking for the order.
They use questions to discover what the prospect already knows and tailor their presentation to the prospects particular need.
If they use an acronym the top sales closer makes sure to explain what it stands for.
Above all, the top sales closer knows their product back to front and enjoy talking about it.
They know their subject so well that they could explain it to a child.
If you can explain yourself effectively to someone who has no background on the subject, then you will certainly be able to make a persuasive case with someone who does have some background.
How does this apply to Internet Marketing?
When you send out an email or write a blog post it is important to not assume anything.
Every email or sales page should explain why your subscriber should read it.
What did you promise them in the subject line? Are you delivering?
Tell them something cool. (Stories are good)
• Explain the value of your offer
• Remind the reader what they’ll get out of taking action (remove the pain)
• Use bullet points to highlight the important parts of your offer.
• Make your content easy to scan
#6 The best sales closers know their stats!
The best sales closers know their stats!
At least weekly and often daily they will be comparing their closing rates and commissions earned.
As a 21 year old Rookie, my first sales manager introduced me to CAPS.
Contacts | Appointments | Presentations | Sales
I knew that for approx every 20 cold calls (doors knocked) I would get one person to agree to an appointment.
Of those potential ‘appointments’ a certain number would fall to the way side – typically 3 appointments would result in one presentation to a qualified prospect.
My closing rate of appointments to sales averaged out at around 2 sales for every 3 presentation, but even if it was only one sale per 3 presentations and the average commission per sales was $600, that meant I earned $3.33 per cold call.
(180 cold contacts | 9 “appointments’ | 3 Presentations | 1 sale for $600 commission)
600 / 180 = $3.33 per cold call
Not bad for a penniless 21 year old back in 1982
How does this apply to Internet Marketing?
One of the most frequently used is EPC – earnings per click, but their are many more. Check out this link.
Knowing your EPC is particularly important if you do any pay per click advertising (Facebook advertising)
Additionally you should know how many visitors to a web page it takes to get a subscriber and then in turn you should know what that subscriber is worth to you.
Or another measurement one blogger I know uses is ‘earnings per visitor’.
In his case, he earnes 7 cents per visitor. Now when you have 400000 visitors per month that starts to add up! ($28,000 per month)
Really smart marketers are more likely to focus on the life time value of a customer – some will be even prepared to lose money on their first transaction, but that is not something I recommend to you.
#7 Cover the objection before the customer does
Selling is about handling objections – covering of the reasons not to buy, before the customer even thinks about them.
Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust. – Zig Ziglar
Average sales people think that Objections are a bad thing which indicate that their customer is not going to buy.
But the truth is that Objections are in fact Buying Signals.
I mean, if you had not interest, you would not even bother to object!
The top sales closer sees objections as buying signals.
#8 Always remain positive – especially with nasty customers
Someone years ago said the customer is always right. I don’t 100% agree but in the main it has been my policy to give the customer the benefit of the doubt.
Of course customers can be scammers but my experience is that it a small percentage and it is best to “allow” for these occasional scanners as a cost of doing business.
In any case…
Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business. – Zig Ziglar
You never really know the true character of a business or an individual until something goes wrong. It is how you handle these issues that defines you.
Handled correctly, the angriest customer can turn into your greatest cheerleader.
Remain polite and considerate – it pays handsome dividends in the end.
#9 Twist my arm but don’t break it
The best sales closers and copywriters use humor to sell
When faced by a customer wanting an extra discount an old sales closer friend of mine would say:
“Twist my arm but don’t break it”
It got a smile just about every time and more often than not, the sale.
When you make people smile, they relax and often forget their objections.
Of course there are plenty of other ways to handle price ‘objections’ – using humor is just one.
With the possible exception of the funeral business, humor sells!
Another example of humor, this time used in negotiation, is the I’ll throw in a pet frog technique.
Of course you don’t have to throw in a pet frog, it can be any semi ridiculous offer as long as it makes the prospect smile / relax.
If you can get a prospect to laugh, then you can get him to buy.
Of course humor does not have to apply exclusively to the closing process, it can be used in your marketing and lead generation as well.
For examples of how you may use it online, our friend Neil Patel article has a great article on using humor in your content marketing you should check out.
As Victor Borge said: Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
#10 Connect at a Heart Level
When you are in the company of a master sales closer it is as though you have known each other all you life.
The master sales closer knows how to build rapport and create trust.
My friend and mentor Craig Ballantyne is a master at connecting with his audience and building rapport.
To demonstrate, below is a paragraph from a recent email promoting Craigs ETR Product Launch Course.
“The ETR Product Launch Blueprint isn’t like any other course out there. You see, Craig describes his students as his family. They don’t just give you a bunch of information and then let you sink or swim. Instead, they guarantee your success.”
The best sales closers make you feel like family – you want to spend time with them and you want to buy from them.
#11 Timid salesmen have skinny kids
Timid salesmen have skinny kids is a 1978 book by Judge Ziglar.
It is also one of my favorite sales quotes!
To succeed in selling you have to be brave.
Overcoming fear of rejection is perhaps the greatest obstacle for any salesperson.
Most people will have heard of Napoleon Hill and his book Think and Grow Rich
Less well known but highly recommended is his book “How to Sell Your Way Through Life” from which the following quote is taken:
Fear is man’s worst enemy. Like a demon of hell, it sits upon one’s shoulders and whispers, “You can’t write that. It will hurt your business; it will deprive you of an income. You can’t write this or do that because of public opinion. You must not express new ideas nor advocate new ways of doing business because people will laugh at you.
The top sales closers interpret No and rejection differently — they appreciate every no is one closer to a yes
They are not afraid to pick up the phone to call a ‘cold’ prospect. They have confidence in their ability, confident that whatever the prospect responds with they can handle it.
#12 The Top Sales Closer Has A Plan
One thing that sets the average sales person apart from the top sales closer is how they plan their day.
Plans will change and delays will happen but whatever happens the top sales closer will make the best of it.
Above all, the top sales closer does not confuse being busy with being productive.
For example if an appointment gets cancelled or changed around, the average sales person will have a coffee or catch up on gossip, but the top sales closer on the other hand would use that time to prospect or follow up with an existing customer.
Time is your most valuable asset. Don’t waste it!
#13 Scarcity Sells
This is a subject that divides opinion.
Using scarcity implies ‘pressure selling’, but is it?
In my experience when people really want to do something (this applies to relationships, everything) they will use any ‘excuse’ to justify it.
The salesperson / entrepreneur just has to provide the reason.
Let me give an example…
Some friends of mine recently released a new Plugin for WordPress. (a relatively expensive plugin)
From memory they sold this Plugin on the basis that the first 125 copies was one price, up to 250 copies was another price and thereafter up to 500 copies was another price. After 500 copies, everything was full price.
Clearly I was not as good a friend as I thought I was, as all 125 copies of the lowest priced option had gone by the time I knew about it.
Of course I inquired would it be possible to but at the 125 copy price? But the response was clear, all copies had gone. (I bought at the 250 price)
Of course there was a reason why my friends offered this special pricing. They had invested a significant amount in development and wanted to recover some of that cash ASAP – hence the special initial pricing.
There has to be a reason why the prospect must take action sooner, rather than later!
Have you ever bought a Limited Edition?
We have limited editions of coins, cars, trainers, art print, watches and just about everything you can imagine.
This is an every day example of scarcity selling!
A wise old closer told me to think abundance – but sell scarcity.
Wise words to remember in business and in life!
Very important – once an offer expires, it has expired! If I had been able to buy at the 125 copy example above that would have been False Scarcity – and that is wrong!
More copywriting gems!
It has been my privilege to hang out with some of the best sales copywriters on the planet.
There is never a dull moment.
In their writing they always…
Inject scarcity – Find a way to deliver this…via increased price, limited time, etc. [special price today only]
Give a guarantee to remove/reverse all risk. [I have a consulting friend who charges a yearly 6 figure sum – his offer is that if he can’t demonstrate how his services will generate at least 10 times ROI on his fee at year end, then he will return the fee]
Call to action – Be specific and tell the reader what they need to do right now
Give a warning that if they don’t buy, this is what will happen [i.e. the pain will still be there]
Still struggling with the ethics of scarcity selling?
It is unwise to pay too much, but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money … that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the things it was bought to do.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot … it cannot be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better. ~ John Ruskin
#14 Sum Tertius
Sum Tertius is Latin for I am third.
One of my all time favourite books on selling is The Closers.
It is not a politically correct book!
But if you are serious about understanding selling face to face, it is essential reading.
It was this book that introduced me to the concept of I AM THIRD.
In “The Closers” the author tells the story of an old sales closer called Sam Johnson and his mentor-ship of a young rookie salesman.
Sam wore a gold ring with the inscription “sum tertius”.
Sam’s explained that Master Closers put God first in their life, the other guy second and themselves always third.
For the non-believers, I have seen some variations of I AM THIRD, such as Putting Family first, the other guy second and yourself third.
Putting yourself third is actually how you become No 1 in sales and business.
It is a strategy I have used through out my business career.
#15 Be honorable.
Don’t let greed for a sales commission get in the way of success.
What does that mean to a sales closer?
Well, this may surprise you, but sometimes it includes knowing when not to sell something.
I mean, if something is not in a customers best interest or the solution you offer is not the best option available you should have the integrity to let the customer know that.
Trust is a hard won thing, it is precious, not something to sacrifice for a quick profit.
As my sales career progressed I became the master sales closer that prospects fell in love with.
But with that comes responsibility – a responsibility to always do the right thing and not abuse that trust.
I have always believed first and foremost that selling is about SERVICE and this quote by Zig Ziglar in particular resonates with me…
How does this apply to Internet Marketing?
For starters only ever promote products you believe in and have used yourself.
When you build a large list online, you could be tempted to promote all sorts of dubious offers just for the commission.
Don’t do that.
Your reputation and integrity is more important than any quick commission.
The Master Sales Closer knows that and you should to.
Be honourable, not selfish.
Commit to making the world and society a better place.
In the end, your opinions and what you think, count for nothing.
In life, you are measured only by what you do.
“Real integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” – Oprah Winfrey
Barry Dunlop is a lifelong entrepreneur, Mastermind Facilitator and sales coach who launched his first Internet Business in 1998. He also invests in renewable energy technology, Domain Names and Website Flipping. You can follow / message Barry on LinkedIn or Twitter
I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.” – Estée Lauder
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