How to Sell Without a Sales Pitch

Two and a half years ago, I chanced upon something in my business that is transforming my life…

What did I discover?

I simply sat down and started writing emails on a daily basis to service providers about working with clients. I had just come off of a bit of a client “train wreck” and I had some issues to work through. 🙂

The truth is, I had made some serious mistakes in managing the client relationship. It was pretty much my fault for being naive, shortsighted and scared. I though that, rather than stay angry for the rest of my life, I’d try to turn my experiences into a positive.

So I decided to start sharing what I learned about working with clients with others who were in very similar situations. I simply sit down each morning and write an email focused on helping solve the problems of my readers.

In my work as a direct response copywriter, I spend most of my time doing things that some people might consider impossible. In the space of a relatively short salesletter, a copywriter has to get the attention of a reader, build some trust, present a product or service and show how that can add value to the reader’s life. Then (as if that isn’t hard enough), the copywriter has to present a specific offer for the reader and prompt action on that offer sooner than later.

When everything works, it is truly a beautiful thing.

The Valuable Conversation That Never Ends

The challenge when you’re writing a salesletter is that you have a lot to accomplish in a very short period of time. That amount of time isn’t how long your reader takes to read your letter—I wish you got that long.

You only have as long as your reader decides to give you. Once your reader withdraws her attention, your chances of making a sale go to zero. You lose.

That’s why copywriters go to the trouble to write good salesletters. What makes a good salesletter?

Good salesletters are inherently valuable. That means that your reader goes away from your marketing better than before they read it. Your sales materials actually add value to your readers’ lives regardless of whether or not any sale happens. Making sure this is true of your sales efforts certainly increases your chances of keeping someone’s attention. But it’s still a challenge.

If you were selling face to face, things would be much easier, of course. Your prospect probably wouldn’t want to offend you by just leaving the room while you were talking. But that’s exactly what happens when you’re trying to sell in print. Your prospect can leave at any time. Ouch!

So imagine if you could start a sales conversation that never ended? One that didn’t make an all or nothing sales proposition (which could easily be ignored)? One that didn’t push anyone away but instead slowly drew them in?

This is what I discovered happens when you send a piece of value (email) every day into the life of your prospect.

Now there are plenty of people doing just this on a daily basis. Some for well over a decade now. So this approach is certainly nothing I invented. However, the number of organizations or individuals that make a commitment like this is small. Very small in the big picture.

That means you stick out if you do it. But that’s not the most valuable benefit, not by far.

The Benefit of Slow Motion Demonstration

One of the most effective selling techniques is demonstration. There are countless examples of this throughout history. If you are selling, demonstrating what you have, showing what it does and how it benefits the buyer is an effective way to go about it.

People today are trained to ignore advertising. So if what you’re sending them looks, feels and tastes like advertising, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage.

When you are “showing up” in someone’s life every single day, you are demonstrating in tiny bite sized pieces. Over time, that demonstration adds up. Pretty soon, you’ve built a level of trust that is virtually impossible to create with a single salesletter.

In fact, there comes a time when the trust is so strong, you don’t even need a salesletter to sell your products or services. Sure you can use one if you want, but you can sell without it. Because the “sale” is actually something that you earned long ago—you’re just getting paid for it now.

As the selling landscape online gets louder and louder, it’s getting more and more difficult to secure the biggest asset you need before you can even begin to sell—that asset is attention.

That is why adding value to your future customers’ lives first is so effective. It’s about them, not you.

The “there’s no free lunch” business experts would probably cringe at an approach like this. But the fact is—reading an email from me everyday isn’t free for my reader. It is true they didn’t pay in money. They pay with something far more valuable. The price they pay is denominated in time and attention.

As it turns out, those two things are far more valuable than just about anything else.

What are your selling secrets?

[Ed. Note. Jason Leister is a direct response copywriter, internet entrepreneur and editor of the daily e-letter, The Client Letter, where he empowers independent professionals who work with clients. He has six kids and lives and works in the mountains of Arizona.]
  • Jim Vaughan

    Honesty. I communicate honest reality in my presentations vs “honeymoon senarios.” I pursued a client for five years. During our fifth year conversation the decision maker asked me what I knew about his company. I said, “I only know two things about your company. One, you have the reputation of being the best in the world at what you do.” The DM (also the CEO) said, “That’s true. What else do you know about my company?” I said, “You guys are assholes to work for.” The DM looked like I’d hit him in the stomach with a sledge hammer. I said, “Let me explain. If you’re assholes to entertain and amuse yourselves, I don’t want any part of doing business with your company. If you’re assholes because you believe that’s what it takes to get the best efforts from your vendors and suppliers, that’s pure business. I understand it, and I can deal with it.” It took the guy about five seconds to digest what I had said and he hired me. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever said that to a client but, being real, being honest, and presenting your story in a way where the DM has no doubts about your character, capabilities, and commitment to the best possible end results for the client is the best way to sell. DMs aren’t used to hearing the true from a salesman. . .

    • ttcert

      Great feedback Jim, thank you. Congrats on getting the contract.

  • Lucy Mauterer

    My biggest selling secret is to ask a lot of questions and then LISTEN. I let the clients tell me what their needs are, what is important to them, and what makes them happy. I don’t set a time limit on this. During an intake, when I am gathering information to give them an estimate, I arrange to be there for however long it takes to get detailed information on what the clients’ expectations are. All of my clients come by word of mouth. Then I make sure I deliver more than they expect.

    • ttcert

      Greatly appreciated, Lucy. What industry are you in?

      • Lucy Mauterer

        I’ve owned a tiny residential cleaning company for 25 years. Some clients date back to the beginning.