Turning No Into Yes

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

But let me ask you…

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.” “Turn cattle prod to stun, and they will buy…”

But make no mistake. Not only is that often not enough… the truth is that even good buyers come to you with hidden doubts. Fail to address them head on and you may fail to sell.

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 sales promotion.

A while back, I read an article in Inside Direct Mail by copywriter Dean Rieck.

Dean wrote: “Selling 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.”

For most writers-in-training, that’s a revelation.

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…

Imagine that you just called your prospect during dinner. He answers. You start reading your sales pitch over the phone. What happens next?

You can imagine.

Even if you’ve called the right prospect, he doesn’t want to talk to you. He doesn’t have time to talk to you. His soup, my friend, is getting cold.

“No, no, no,” he says. What would you have to say to get him to say “yes”?  Studies show that if you can get a prospect to say “yes” to anything — even a question about the weather — they’re more receptive to what follows.

But this is a cheap tactic, don’t you think?

Far better is a targeted, personal reversal of the negative replies. A strategy that turns every objection into another selling opportunity. What might that entail?

With every product, there’s an infinite permutation of objections. Here are just a few general examples:

  • If your prospect says “It’s not for me…”

This might just mean you have to target your message more carefully. Selling to the wrong audience wastes money. So does selling to the right audience with the wrong message. Dean Rieck — in the article mentioned earlier — called this “The Identification Barrier.”

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

  • 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 to go on reading your promotion.

But the truth is, we make time for interesting things. War and Peace, for example, at well over a thousand pages, has held many a reader.

Opportunity: Find the hook. Open 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.

  • If your prospect says, “It’s more than I’d like to spend…”

Remember, it’s never about price. It’s about value.

When a prospect 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.

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 your service and compare them more closely to the cost.

  • 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. But there are some others…

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, and hone your craft? Give some success stories. Have you won awards or seals of approval?

  • If your prospect says, “I’ve heard all this before…”

He’s telling you to fix your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). How do you stand out in a crowd? You need to give him proof.

Opportunity: Check out your competition. Compare offers and make yours stronger. Offer a stronger guarantee. Look for ways your product or service out-paces, out-builds, or out-races your competitor’s product or service.

  • If your prospect says, “I’d rather take some time to think about it…”

Your prospect is not feeling the urgency of your offer.

Opportunity: Small issue — layout. Bold colors like red and dark blue and bright yellow are more urgent than brown and orange and pastels. A much bigger issue  the wording of your offer and close. Is there a deadline? If not, make one. Is the product scarce? Tell them. Is there a reward for early orders?

Even as a filtering device, making a list of possible prospect objections is useful. It can help you fill holes in your sales pitch. It can also help you SHRINK the pile of facts, figures, and other bits you’ve collected… so your message can focus on what counts.

In the end, what’s the real benefit?

Knowing your prospect’s potential objections gives you a better understanding of him… a better understanding of your product’s benefits and how they relate to him…

Plus, it gives you much clearer opportunities to demonstrate your product’s value… a test for holes in your arguments… and renewed confidence in what you’re selling…

Frankly, wouldn’t you have to be crazy to say “no” to all that?

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John Forde's 15-year career as a top copywriter started as an understudy of Bill Bonner and Michael Masterson. Since then, John has written countless winning controls, has generated well over $30 million in sales, and has successfully launched dozens of products. He's also worked three years as a financial journalist and has written books on wealth building and health, as well as more than 250 articles on copywriting for his popular ezine, The Copywriter's Roundtable. John has taught copywriting in private seminars and conferences in Paris, London, Bonn, Chicago, Buenos Aires, Baltimore, and Warsaw. He currently lives and works from Paris, France.