Your Should-Be Customer Say “No” Because… (Pt. 2)

marketing criteria

[Read Part 1]

When people who should say yes to “you” say “no” instead, there is one overarching cause. Borrowing a few words (and an image) Dr. Harlan Kilstein shared someplace in cyberspace:

“The only reason you hear “no” when you are selling is because you haven’t connected your product to their highest ranking criteria.” Couldn’t’ve put it better myself — so I didn’t even try.

If what you’re offering doesn’t gain a position of ranking priority in your potential customer’s mind, you’re gonna hear a lot of nos. That shows up in a few different ways, one of which we discussed last week. We talked about how sales messages miss the mark if they don’t appeal specifically to the self-interest of the prospect.

Another reason people who should be your customers will reject you is because change is hard. When we’re selling our products and services, we’re asking people to

  • change from inaction to action
  • change from one course of action to another
  • change brands or providers
  • change their thinking
  • change their habits

People generally do not like to change and we usually try to avoid it, even when we know the results will be good.

Please, take 96 seconds to watch this video that illustrates the point wonderfully:

As the saying goes, we usually change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. And this is really the key to overcoming this reason people reject our selling messages.

Many times, we try to persuade tough prospects by piling on benefit after benefit and bonus after bonus. What we don’t realize is that the problem is not a lack of value (although extra value is rarely a bad thing). We oversimplify the persuasion process.

When people make decisions, they have to weigh multiple factors. As marketers, it is easy for us to only address two main categories: payoff of taking action and the cost of not taking action, i.e. the benefits they get from buying and what they miss out on if they don’t.

What we fail to consider is that, in the mind of the potential customer, there are HUGE benefits to inaction.

Changing is hard; your prospects most likely aren’t going to do it just because you offer a better alternative to what they’re doing now (which could be nothing). You’re going to have to paint the picture, taking into consideration the payoff of inaction and the cost of action.

how sales persuasion happens

Recognize that change is difficult for the prospect (just like it is for you). Acknowledge the fact, but put it in its proper perspective. “It feels good to smoke a cigarette when your coworker gets on your nerves, but is it worth shortening your life because he’s a jerk?”

The Cost of Truth

Sometimes we’re stuck in our ways. We like our way of doing things and seeing things. Even when we learn about a better way, we’re not trying to hear it. I was that way with the Dewey Decimal system. The Library of Congress classification traumatized me.

Speaking of books, how many book publishers, newspapers and magazines have gone bankrupt because they didn’t want to change along with the digital revolution?

“Everyone—yes, everyone—has an emotional attachment to their view, no matter how trivial. Some attachments are more easily severed than others. But they are still there.” ~ Abdu Murray

We have to realize that there’s more behind the “nos” we hear than a lack of value on our part. We have to explore ways to facilitate change.

Can that be done through marketing? Absolutely. We’ll get deeper into that in the future.

[Check out Part 3 now!]


Why Selling Is So Hard?

No Trespassing. No Selling Allowed

Most people won’t say this in public, but behind closed doors and in their innermost thoughts, you hear it with staggering frequency:

“Why won’t these dummies buy my product?? They know they need it! I’ve clearly shown them how much better their lives will be when they start using it.

Selling is HARD! Argg!!

Yes, selling is hard. The reason is simple: it is impossible to change someone’s mind. Literally impossible.

But you still have to get people to say yes or click a button for your business or career to survive. How do you do it? Why is there a small percentage of people who make selling look so easy? How do I become one of the ones who make it look easy?

Your prospects have “No Trespassing” signs posted at every one of the entrances to the mind. The guards are very selective about who they allow inside the gates.

If you try to punch a hole through their mental defenses, you’ll soon find out how ineffective (and exhausting) that can be. Using hype and high-pressure tactics is a foolish approach — no matter how cool the Wolf of Wall Street makes it look.

Here’s what it boils down to:

There are things that your would-be customers really want to do, but for numerous reasons they can’t bring themselves to take action.

They want to start investing so they can retire comfortably. They want six-pack abs. They want to meet their soulmate.

Your job is to give your customers the psychological, emotional and volitional strength to get out of their own way.

To empower them to grab hold of their better future.

That’s what we’re going to talk about during Monday’s Irresistible Offers teleseminar.

We’re going to tackle the topic of persuasive selling based on how the brain works…how human emotion works…how language works.

There is one psychological reality that puts all the pieces of the persuasion puzzle into a single, cohesive concept.

Instead of long lists of complicated techniques and formulas (which all talk about different things), you’ll discover a simple but incredibly enlightening illustration of the how the mind works and what makes persuasion work.

You’ll learn why people say ‘yes’ and you’ll learn what it takes to get more yeses from your sales and marketing.

Everyone who makes selling look easy leverages this reality, consciously or unconsciously.

This session is going to be a real eye-opener, with research gathered from

  • the U.S. Army
  • the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • the latest psychological and neuroscientific studies
  • social movements
  • millions of dollars of direct marketing testing
  • and Hollywood, possibly the greatest influencer of culture on the planet.

If you’re an entrepreneur, salesperson, marketer, copywriter or anyone who needs to be more persuasive, you don’t want to miss this call. The insights you’ll gain could change everything for you.

Understanding what makes people tick and learning to make offers they can’t resist — now that’s a good investment.

My promise to you:

The teleseminar starts from 8:00pm Eastern on Monday, August 11th. The cost is $58.

I’ve condensed the best insights I have on selling in person, print or pixel into an hour-long. I’m not holding anything back. I’ve only spoken publicly about some of this information once in the past 2 year (at my paid workshop in June). Parts of it I’ve never shared before, which is why the teleseminar is more expensive than the workshop.

At $58, it’s a freakin’ steal. I guarantee you’ll get 99 times more value than what you spend or I’ll happily give you a full refund — before I go to bed Monday night.

I can’t stand sitting in on presentations and listening to the “same old, same old.” Don’t you hate that? I’m not going to put you through that torture. If you don’t learn something brand new, I’ll give happily your money back.

Let me help you get past your customers’ “No Trespassing” signs. Sign up for the Irresistible Offers teleseminar here.


This Is Probably the Main Thing Holding You Back

Gary Halbert, one of the smartest marketers in history, said he believed most people would choke to death in a restaurant before they’d allow someone to perform the Heimlich maneuver on them.

I don’t think he was far off the mark.

Why would Gary make a statement like that?

I wasn’t there when he said it, but I think I understand his reasoning. He was trying to shed some light on the biggest force that stops most people from making the kind of progress they’re capable of making.

I’ll come back to this in a moment.

Your Real Job as an Entrepreneur, Salesperson, Marketer or Other Kind of Influencer

As a business owner, copywriter or marketer, you have a two-fold duty:
1. Create value for your clients/customers.
2. Get them to take action.

(Sometimes your ability to induce action is itself the value you create.)

I’ve often said it this way: A salesperson/marketer/copywriter’s job is to empower people do the things they already want to do.

They want a more comfortable temperature in house during summer, so you help them get the right air conditioner, etc.

A big part of that process is education. Education is in powerful tool for persuasion, but if it’s not helping the would-be customer take action to improve his life, it’s lacking. Consider this: a teacher gets paid to “do the work,” preparing lessons, presenting to the class, grading homework. As entrepreneurs and marketers, we don’t make money by simply doing the work. We have to impel customers to act.

What Holds People Back?

What keeps people from buying even when they’re in the market for a specific product, they can see the benefits and can afford to make the purchase?

The main reason is fear. The fear of making the wrong choice, looking stupid or getting burned. The fear of having to explain the purchase to a spouse or business partner.

Here’s a big one — the one Gary Halbert was referring to in the statement above: People are very protective of their comfort zones. Halbert said that people will “struggle harder to stay in their comfort zones than they will to save their own lives.

When you ask someone to change their habits, their preferred brands or their way of looking at things — you’re asking a lot — even if it will get them closer to the future they want.

This applies to YOU as an entrepreneur or marketer.

We often cling to our way of doing things, even when we know there’s a more efficient way.


We spend hour after hour educating ourselves, only to keep doing the same things, the same way.

I’m guilty, too. Over the years, I’ve only implemented a fraction of the ideas I’ve spent hundreds of hours consuming.

Herein lies the rub: nothing is going to change if you don’t change it. You can either take responsibility for your own results or you can make excuses. One of those options empowers you; the other gives your power away.

If there’s something your business needs but doesn’t have…
If there’s something you need to do, but you’re not sure how to make the next step (or the first one)…
If there’s an urgent problem you have no idea how to solve…

…Own it! Then take action to get what you need.

Quoting Gary Halbert again, MOTION is the biggest difference between winners and losers. He said “You don’t have a choice of being afraid or not afraid in life; you’re going to be afraid. You’re either going to be afraid and frozen or scared and moving.”

Isn’t it time to get in motion?


P.S. Need help skillfully persuading your prospects and clients to take action? Come to my Irresistible Offers teleseminar August 11th.


The Business Growth Question I Can’t Get Out of My Mind

Robert said something a few weeks ago that has been ringing in my ears ever since it rolled off his lips. He has no idea it’s had such a lasting –almost haunting– effect on me. Maybe I should call him and let him know.

“Have you ever offered anything crazy get people onto your buyer’s list?”

He posed the question to about a dozen bright entrepreneurial minds during our mastermind group call. As I recall, only one or two of us came up with a response.

For the record, Robert Michon is a very smart marketer, so his inquiry comes loaded with knowledge, experience and an ever-present curiosity.

This is an idea we all understand, but most of us don’t do it. Or we don’t take it as far as we should. For whatever reason, we never cross the border into “crazy.”

When You Understand This, You Understand How Direct Marketing Really Works

You hear a lot of talk these days about building your email list, and that’s a good thing. But there is a fundamental difference between people who subscribed to your list to get something for free and paying customers. Understanding the difference and focusing on it appropriately will virtually guarantee increased conversion rates, sales and profits.

The best new customer is a satisfied old customer. The second best customer is one referred by a satisfied old customer. The best prospects to buy your higher-end product or service are satisfied buyers of your less expensive offers (all things being equal).

This idea reminds me of a lesson I learned from Richard Armstrong, direct marketing veteran and AWAI Copywriter of the Year for 2012. In chapter 11 of his book My First 40 Years in Junk Mail, he shares the story of his time working with the legendary Dick Benson. The takeaways are golden. Stealing from pages 56-57:

“Oh, let me tell you one other little secret I learned from Dick Benson. Now that he’s passed away, I can share this with you. Dick was never in the publishing business. He was in the list-building business!”He sold subscriptions to those newsletters for just ten dollars a year! In the process, they became the most widely-circulated newsletters in America… But Dick didn’t really give a damn about the newsletters… All Dick cared about was the lists. In other words, he literally gave away the newsletters in order to build up gigantic mailing lists of subscribers…

“When you understand why he did that, you understand how direct marketing really works.”

I can’t recommend Richard’s book strongly enough. Grab a free copy here.

How Does That Impact Your Business?

A significant psychological shift takes place when someone gives you money. If you’ve been in business, either as an owner or an employee, you know there’s a huge difference between a customer and a tire-kicker. Rather than being passive about the process, be proactive. Don’t sit and wait for prospects turn into buyers. Consider making a “crazy” offer, one that’s harder to turn down than to buy. You’ll jumpstart that psychological shift in those individuals, and that begins what will hopefully be a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.

Either that or you’ll find out that those 1) prospects aren’t as hot as you thought they were, 2) your offer wasn’t crazy enough or 3) your potential buyers don’t see your product as solving their problems or enhancing their lives. No matter what, you’re learning something that you can use to make improvements.

Any type of business can put this idea into practice. A little creative thinking and some courage can make this experiment wildly successful.

I’ve talked before about how Gillette sent me a Mach 3 razor in the mail for my 18th birthday.  Some businesses would be too scared to go that far. It’s crazy, especially since the only thing they knew about me was that I turned 18 on November 2. But their small investment (probably no more than $5) secured my loyalty as a customer for over a decade. I’m in my 30s and I still use the very same razor they sent me. When I need replacement blades, there’s no question who gets my money.

Do you see how this could change the way you do business?

Your Action Steps

1) If you’re not already doing it, start collecting a customer database. Be as detailed as you can. This is a separate list from your general mailing lists.

2) Come up with a hard-to-resist introductory offer and give your prospects compelling reasons to buy. Not just opt-in, but actually send you money. You might be surprised by the difference between $1 customers and free newsletter subscribers.

3) No matter what price point you pick, over-deliver. Give more value than the customer expected.

4) Create back-end offers. Dream up ways to offer targeted products and services (your own and those of other providers you trust) to your customer lists. This is the Dick Benson secret.

5) Test different offers to convert the prospects who didn’t respond to previous offers. Measure results.

I hope Robert’s “crazy offer” question is burning in your mind the ways it burns in mine. One of the reasons it affects me so much is that I know I could go much further into “crazy” in my own business. But more than that, I know this concept can have a huge impact on your business.

I hope this article provides the spark that gets you to take action on this idea.


Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur, Pt. 1

“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory rests with the LORD.” Proverbs 21:31 (NIV)

There is an interesting dynamic at play that Christian entrepreneurs in every industry have to deal with: finding a balance between taking action and having faith in God as Provider. How do we avoid going to one extreme or the other?

The verse above paints a clear picture we can apply to our business lives.

As people of faith, we know that God has promised to supply all of our needs (Philippians 4:19), and we should trust Him fully for this provision. But does that mean we sit idle and wait for Him to do all the work? Obviously not.

Ultimately, victory and success comes from His hand. (That’s even true for people who don’t believe it!) But He still expects us to “make the horse ready for battle.” It’s less a matter of God “helping those who help themselves” (which isn’t in the Bible, by the way), and more an issue of cooperating with what He wants to do.

In most cases, the Lord uses His people to accomplish his will in the world. He works through us. E.M. Bounds said that “Men are God’s method…When God declares that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him,” he declares the necessity of men and his dependence on them as a channel through which to exert his power upon the world.

He wants us to be willing co-workers (1 Corinthians 3:9).

What does that mean in practical terms?

It means do your part. If you want to win the battle, you have to prepare the horses. If you want to get customers, you have to market your products or services. If you want to retain clients, you have to treat them right and provide them with real value.

Do the best work you possibly can, then leave the results up to your Provider.

Read Unexpected Insights for the Christian Entrepreneur Pt. 2.


Funny Thing About Yearbooks…

Funny thing about yearbooks…

No matter who you are, there are pictures from your past that you consider embarrassing, if not downright horrifying.

Maybe you had goofy glasses, or a terrible haircut.

Maybe you were wearing hideous clothes or just acting stupid, as “kids” often to do.

(For example, I’m absolutely certain people will look back and feel intense shame that they were ever involved in “planking”)

There’s no way around it. That’s how life is. That’s the nature of fast-fading fads and the process of growing up.

But that was you. Being who you were then is part what made you who you are now.

There’s a very similar similar reality in marketing. When you look back at some of your early efforts, you may laugh and shake your head. Was that really you? Were you really that clueless? 

Yep. That was you.

And that’s okay. Who you did back then has created business you have today.

Here’s the point. Everyone looks like a beginner when he’s just getting started at something. Don’t let the fact that you’re not perfect yet stop you from getting started. You don’t have to know everything about everything to do something.

There’s a good chance you’re going to look back at your old blog posts and wonder how those words ever came from your mind. I know I do. Your first efforts are probably going to look like first efforts.

And that’s okay. That’s how you build the business you want to be in the future.

So get started ASAP. Write that sales letter. Announce that seminar. Prepare to launch that product you’ve been sitting on for the past 5 years.

In 2020, you’ll either look back and see that the actions you took in 2014 (even though they may seem amateurish in hindsight) moved you toward in creating something great… or you’ll look back and regret waiting for the “perfect moment.”

What will you see when you look back?


Strategic Truth-Telling

The world is full of phonies, deceivers and cheats. In the arenas of advertisers and salespeople, this seems to be especially true.

Empty promises, bogus guarantees and plain ol’ swindles pervade the marketplace. Most people automatically tune out a large percentage of overt advertisements. No one trusts salespeople; they are often dismissed before they even speak. (Believe me, I’ve been there.) We all know it’s true. That’s just how things are.

In spite of that fact, a profound longing exists inside of each of us: a longing to believe. Gary Bencivenga, one of the few living legends of copywriting, teaches that “Almost everyone in the world… is desperately searching for someone to believe in. Be that person, and you can write your own ticket.” The dishonest climate of the day makes the search for that kind of person difficult. Those found to be trustworthy stand to benefit immensely.

Telling the truth can be used as a powerful business and marketing strategy.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating a Machiavellian view of dealing with truth. 100% honesty is the only way to business. Customers and prospects deeply desire to believe, but they have been forced into skepticism. Only one arrow can pierce the armor of doubt: TRUTH.

How Can Truth-Telling Be Used As a Marketing Strategy?

When we think of establishing our credibility and building trust, we usually picture a long-term process. And it is. Allowing events to progress naturally, it can take months or years to get where you want to be.You should never tell lies or deceive. Customers need to know you’re not going to mislead them or take advantage of them. Don’t settle for marketing that is simply credible. Actually be the company that your customers can trust.

Let’s consider another perspective. Most of my readers market their products and services using direct response methods. What is one defining characteristic of direct response marketers? We do not wait for “events to progress naturally.” We don’t wait for prospects to eventually stumble across our offers and maybe buy something. We take action to cause individuals in our target audience to respond in a particular way.

Strategic truth-telling relies on the same principle.

Rather than relying on chance and (passively) watching trust grow over time, it is possible to inject “moments of truth” into otherwise normal interactions. Build your believability factor actively, purposefully. The “que sera, sera” approach is not a viable strategy.

Let me state emphatically that integrity is not a strategy. It is a way of life.

Now for the good stuff. Let’s discuss 4 specific truth-telling techniques. You will no longer have to hope that you are gaining your audience’s trust. Take action! Implement these steps and gain control of building your believability.

1. The Preemptive Strike

Have you heard the famous story about Claude Hopkins and Schlitz Beer? How one advertising campaign that took Schlitz from 5th place to being in a dead heat with the number one brand in a few months?

Hopkins tells the tale in his book, My Life in Advertising. I won’t repeat it here, but do yourself a favor and look it up. There’s a great lesson to be taken from the narrative. The major take-away from that campaign: be the first company to “tell the facts,” and you gain supremacy in the minds of your customers and prospects.

Instead of just talking about how totally rad your product is, tell the story of why it’s so great. What do you do that makes what you do so impressive?

Is there a way you can use this concept in your own marketing? Think of some aspect of your process, one ingredient you use, or anything that you can tell your audience about that they don’t know. You don’t have to be the only company doing it. You don’t have to be the first company to do it. You just have to be the first to say it. Once you’ve said it, you own it. Anyone else to make similar claims will be seen as a copy cat.

There are so many voices screaming for the attention of the masses. And as much as businesses may think they’re being unique, nearly all advertising sounds the same on the surface. You can stand out by coming at the issue from a different angle. Give meaning to the claims you make about your product, service or brand by using this classic technique of preemption.

2. Full Disclosure

Voluntary vulnerability is startlingly effective at creating credibility. I think there are 3 reasons for that.

Firstly, no one does it. Everyone is too scared to take the risk. Plus, they’ve spent so much time trying to appear to be perfect. They can’t afford to let that illusion disappear. By being one of the rare few that will be open and honest, you position yourself as one of the rare few companies or individuals worth listening to.

Secondly, you show that you care more about the truth than about your image. Your image is how you want to appear. But reality is what really matters.

Thirdly, an emotional element comes into play. Putting yourself or your company in a position of openness is not logical (or at least it doesn’t appear to be so). The result is that the listener is almost forced to react emotionally, not just intellectually.

Everyone loves the inside scoop. Confessions are always a hot ticket. When people feel like you’ve told them something “intimate” you become more of a person than a salesperson. More of a friend. Trust flows easily in that environment.

Show that you have nothing to hide. Prove that you care more about the customer experience than about your image.

This should be an aggressive technique. Remember, we’re thinking of injecting truth deliberately for the purpose of building trust. Maybe it’s as simple as endearing yourself to your email list by telling an embarrassing personal story. You didn’t have to let anyone know about the time you were tricked into climbing into a high school locker, only to find yourself locked in and abandoned (yes, that happened to me).

Make the information interesting, but also find a way to make it relevant.

Also, admit when you’re wrong, when you don’t know the answer, or when you can’t help someone. It always pays off in the long run.

3. Flattery Will Get You Nowhere – Unless It’s Genuine

No one likes a “yes man” or a butt-kisser.

If you want to be believed, have the guts to challenge conventional wisdom or popular opinions. Speak your mind. Be confident and speak authoritatively. You do not have to agree with anyone all the time, even if they’re paying you. In fact, that’ll do more harm than good for all parties involved.

That doesn’t mean be arrogant, or purposely combative. But don’t fall for the line of thinking that says “the more I tell this client how much of a genius he is, the more business I’ll get.” Think more in terms of “the truth will make you free.”

Is it just me, or do people who always have flattering words on their lips seem to be up to no good? Either they don’t have minds of their own, or they’re sycophants. It’s hard to respect either. Don’t be that person or business.

This is less a technique to be used than it is a position to be adhered to. We’re talking about strategy. You want to set yourself up as the person who will tell the truth no matter what it costs. That’s who people will trust. People will believe in you, and that’s how you get to write your own ticket, as Bencivenga says.

I’ve had a client ask tell me that I didn’t have to agree with everything he said. His ideas were great; I wasn’t trying to be obsequious. The point is that my posture was weakened slightly by the appearance that I was just going along with whatever he said. That’s not the place you want to be in.

4. Be A Giver

You should always seek to give more than you take. Provide more value than you charge for.

You should be educating your customers, not just selling to them. Education is one of the most compelling selling tools in existence. But you should give valuable content and actionable information to your audience at least as often as you ask them to buy something from you.

Being a giver is one of the surest ways to become a trusted person or organization. Of course you need to generate revenue. Your customers understand that. But if the only time they hear from you is when you have a sales pitch, you become a nuisance. They feel as if you look at them like dollar signs instead of human beings.

If you want to build credibility, to be the person or company that others believe in, help them get what they want out of life. When you look out for the needs and desires of other people, you begin to operate on a higher level.

Blogs, newsletters and content-rich emails are popular for a reason. We live in the information age. Perhaps telling the truth has never been such an important element of business success.

Be strategic in your execution. Blogs should be focused. Create content so that visitors know what to expect and how to get what they need. Self-promotion is not an effective way to gain trust. Providing info that improves people’s lives is a great way to become a trusted expert.

You can either promote yourself, or do high-quality work that does the promoting for you. Which do you think works better?

Final Thoughts

Most business people you know let their businesses “drift downstream” and hope for the best. My hope is that you are not one of those individuals. There are some things that you can’t control (the weather, for example), but there are nearly always ways to move forward with purpose and vision. Strategic truth-telling is another way to take more control over your life and business.


Tactics Vs. Strategy

What do you think is the biggest difference between successful people and businesses, and unsuccessful ones?

  • Wealthy parents/investors?
  • The right connections?
  • Positive thinking?
  • “Luck?”

While any of these could have a significant impact on one’s future success, none of them fit the bill.

The more experience I gain and the more I learn from high achievers, the clearer it becomes that strategic thinking paired with sustained action is the gamechanger in business and life.

Continue reading “The Noise Before Defeat”  on the Evolution Magazine website.


Quote of the Week 57

It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt


Why You’re Not Making Any Money Online

Ryan Healy listed 12 reasons why most people don’t make any money in their internet “businesses.”

If you’re experiencing difficulty getting money flowing online, this will help. You might see yourself here.

Check out 12 Reasons You Can’t Make Your First $50 Online.