Secrets of a Master:
John Forde on How to Make "Yes" Irresistible

"By focusing obsessively on how to make an idea smooth," says marketing-maven Seth Godin, "You can dramatically increase its velocity."

So far, so good. But let me ask you this: What good is a juggernaut of a marketing idea … if it's headed straight for a brick wall of buyer resistance?

It's common for even experienced marketers to leave the overcoming of buyer resistance almost to chance. "Push benefits, and they will buy." "Load up on premiums, and they will buy." "Use a cattle prod to stun, and they will buy."

To not mention possible objections in the copy, marketers tell themselves, is to not remind the buyer that potential objections exist. Why raise doubts?

But make no mistake … buyers have doubts – objections – long before your promo package comes along. Fail to address them head on, and you'll fail to sell.

That's the bad news. The good news is, once you identify those objections and set out to overcome them, one by one, you could be looking at your next breakthrough …

Claude Hopkins once said, "The right offer should be so attractive that only a lunatic would say 'No'." Today, we'll look at a way to make the word "yes" irresistible.

It's simple. It starts with a pen and a sheet of paper. Yet, this technique not only works on sales prospects … but also on business colleagues, bosses, employees, spouses … virtually anyone you'd like to win over to your way of thinking.

How? In due time. First, let me give credit where it's due.

While reading the June 2001 Inside Direct Mail, I came across an article entitled, "Removing the Barriers to Buying," written by copywriter Dean Rieck.

"Selling," said Dean, "is simply offering the right product to the right people at the right time in the right way … You aren't forcing your customer to say yes, you're taking away his reasons to say no."

Think about it. Selling is not brilliant creative. It's not trickery. It's not even brute force. In fact, your customer – if you chose him right – wants to buy. The question at stake is whether or not he wants to buy from you.

All you have to do to get the sale is give him the right reasons. What follows is a way to find those reasons …

First, take the piece of paper I mentioned and write at the top: "I don't want to buy from you because …"

Imagine that you've just called your prospect during dinner. When he answers, you start reading your sales pitch over the phone.

For the sake of argument, let's assume you've called the right guy. He needs your product. He might even want your product.

But his soup is getting cold.

What might he say to get you to hang up? Run through every objection you can think of.

I don't mean excuses like "cold soup" and "I've got to run to the bathroom." I mean specific, product-related objections. Try not to miss any. Because your next goal is to turn every objection into another selling opportunity. For instance …

Objection: If your prospect says, "It's not for me," you have a chance to target your message more carefully. Selling to the wrong audience wastes money. So does selling to the right audience with the wrong message. In his article, Dean Rieck called this "The Identification Barrier."

Selling Opportunity: Show your prospect testimonials from people like him. Or paint a picture of the person your prospect wants to be and show the idealized person using your product. Also, make sure you're targeting a specific audience. Over-wide appeals fall flat.

Objection: If your prospect says, "I don't have time to read your offer," he's really saying that he's bored. And he doesn't see enough immediate benefit in your offer to go on reading it. But the truth is, we make time for interesting things. "War and Peace" has held the attention of many a reader for well over 100 years.

Selling Opportunity: Find the hook. Open strong with a benefit or jump right into telling a story. When the going gets interesting, people hang on to find out how things end. Quizzes, checklists, and fresh news keep readers involved too.

Objection: If your prospect says, "It's more than I'd like to spend," remember that it's never about price. It's about value. When a reader says your prices are too high, he's really telling you that the value of your product sounds too low. It doesn't have enough benefit to get him to pay the asking price.

Selling Opportunity: Find services like yours that cost more and build a comparison. Sweeten the deal with better premiums. Put a value on the results of service and compare them more closely to the cost.

Objection: If your prospect says, "I don't know who you are," he's really telling you he needs to trust you and wants to see your credentials. Testimonials and track record are obvious solutions. Here are some others …

Selling Opportunity: Try answering questions like these: Where do you do business and why? Who are your clients, especially your famous ones? Where did you get your training, learn your trade, hone your craft? Give some success stories. Have you won awards or seals of approval?

Objection: If your prospect says, "I've heard all this before," he's telling you to fix your Unique Selling Proposition (U.S.P.). How do you stand out in a crowd? You need proof.

Selling Opportunity: Check out your competition. Compare offers and make yours stronger. Offer a stronger guarantee. Look for ways your service outpaces, out-builds, out-races your competitor's product or service. Here's something novel: Coin a new name for an industry-standard strategy. Everybody "cold-brewed" beer. But the first company to offer "ice" brews made a fortune.

Objection: If your prospect says, "I'd rather take some time to think about it," he's not feeling the urgency of your offer.

Selling Opportunity: A minor issue is your layout. Bold colors like red and dark blue and bright yellow are more urgent than brown and orange and pastels. A much bigger issue is the wording of your offer and close. Is there a deadline? Make one. Is the product scarce? Tell them. Is there a reward for early orders?

I remember a package for a product that advised readers on options trading. It was a small booklet with a title something like "The Greatest Money Course of All Time."

Inside, all the copywriter did was list possible reader objections as questions in italics … and then answer them underneath with sales copy. It mailed for a few years. I don't know specific results, but I do know the product continues to sell. And the company that sells it sustains over 70 employees.

I'm not saying you have to do that with the list of objections you create. Rather, use it as a filtering device. Check your list of objections against the arguments you've used in your piece. Cut where you've over-argued your point. Shore up spots where the response to certain objections feels too thin. Make sure every objection has a match to counter it somewhere in your list of key selling points.

In the end, knowing your prospect's potential objections beforehand gives you a better understanding of him … a better understanding of product benefits and how they relate to him … much clearer opportunities to demonstrate product value … a test for holes in your arguments … renewed confidence in what you're selling … and a way to know when to close the sale. (Once all the objections are overcome, you're done!)

I promise you that if you follow this process, you will write stronger sales letters. And who could object to that?

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Published: August 13, 2001

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