Why Selling Online No Longer Sells

Bobby Kennedy

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Why Selling No Longer Sells

Easy comparison shopping via the web has made savants of consumers. We no longer believe words. We want numbers. “Real data.” Words sounds too much like sales. Translation: half-truths or outright lies to advance the seller’s agenda.

A few things coalesced this week to make me reflect on sales and selling. First, the book “They Ask, You Answer.” It’s a face-palm experience, as in, why the heck didn’t I figure that out earlier (simple and obvious).

Second, I signed up for a service online that vets virtual assistants (V.A.s) to support my business. I filled out their information form (noticing they claimed to protect my privacy). Then I received a text message on my cell phone from the founder and (two days later) a voice mail from a salesperson welcoming me. Didn’t expect these, and they weren’t welcome. I wanted to keep them at “email’s distance” until I could look into their business more.

They no doubt wanted to impress me with their responsiveness. But they hadn’t made the sale and had no right to intrude. I interpreted their behavior as pushy. And I’m from New York, a.k.a., Pushy-Town, USA. They may have lost a sale to me by setting a poor tone from the start.

Kennedy Copywriting
(<- Not my car...)

Third, I’ve been reflecting on how important my car backup camera has become. My driveway is long but somewhat narrow. When I turn around, I have little room to navigate before I hit something I shouldn’t be hitting. The camera has prevented me from ever hitting anything.

I wasn’t keen on these cameras at first. “This rear camera has changed my life,” the car salesman told me. I recall thinking what a bunch of malarkey. These guys will say anything to sell a car. I had to buy a car, and I had no time for sales chatter (I owned a dirty VW diesel that VW bought back from me). 

I lived in Brooklyn in 2016, and I was hitting bumpers. Just before going to the dealership, I backed up and smacked a bumper, then looked back to find two irate faces screaming at me. Oops. How I wished I could have avoided these experiences!

So I bought a smaller car, and I used the camera. I no longer hit bumpers. I could park in far more places than before — a big deal in Brooklyn where you have to hunt for an open parking spot in most neighborhoods.. And I came to rely on it for getting to within an inch of an obstacle. The rear view camera changed my life.

The sales guy might have framed it better. 

Look, I know you’ll hear a lot of sales talk when you’re buying a new car. I know it stinks, right? But one innovation that might make a big difference is this rear-view camera. If you live in Brooklyn and need to fight to find a space that looks too small, you’ll love it.

This would have anticipated a chief concern of mine. But I didn’t know that the rear camera could make a difference. He would have also assuaged my concern that I was just fielding more sales talk. And I might have purchased a larger car.

Kennedy CopywritingThe book They Ask, You Answer, by Marcus Sheridan, is a game changing view to marketing on the web. 

Over ten years ago, Sheridan was the co-owner of a pool installation company in Virginia. Things weren’t going well because of the recession and pool sales plummeted. 

So he racked his brain for solutions and launched a new campaign. He’d educate prospects on his website and answer even the tough questions that all pool installers avoided.

His pool company’s search results increased and better prospects became better sales. He learned that his first task was to educate and reassure customers. Be bold, open, and transparent about your strengths, and you’ll earn customers' trust.

One of the great takeaways: Focus on the 5 questions all companies try to avoid answering. Sheridan suggests web pages covering questions such as

1. What’s the price and cost?
2. What are the problems and what could go wrong?
3. How does your product compare with competitors?
4. What do customers think about your work?
5. Who are your best competitors?

Companies avoid answering certain questions because they worry about the competition (but competitors already know about you).
They worry about scaring off customers by revealing prices. But if your price scares buyers, they’re probably bad fits for your business.
To help focus on content creation and business success, ignore the bad fits and competitors.

Take on the most challenging questions from buyers. Most customers put more faith in teachers than salespeople. They also buy more often if they feel in control of the buying process and not subject to the salesperson’s personal agenda of an easy sale.

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