After 11 years in sales, I’ve put together and delivered more sales presentations, briefings, and demos than I care to remember. But the nice thing about repetition is that after a few dozen presentations you get very good at reading body language.
You can easily tell when the audience is engaged, when they’re confused, when they are bored, uninterested - even angry and inpatient. (And that’s a good thing because you can quickly switch gears in response to this feedback!)
I’ve seen it all. I’ve had people fall asleep on me (great boost to my self-esteem, as you can imagine). I’ve had others so excited, they almost cried (ok - maybe I didn’t really see tears).
Luckily, I’ve never had anyone walk out on me or ask me to leave.
But that changes when you write copy. In essence, a direct response piece - whether it’s a sales letter, an email, self-mailer, or landing page - is a sales presentation on paper.
And every time a prospect tosses your letter in the recycling bin - or hits the delete button -– he or she is in “walking out on you” right in the middle of your pitch.
**A Tough and Demanding Audience**
So here’s how you can start using this technique to strengthen your copy: Imagine you're presenting your idea, concept or product to a room full of potential prospects. But this time, the “ground rules” are tougher than usual.
Your prospects have agreed to sit down and pay attention. They will not interrupt you. However, they’ve made it clear that if anyone loses interest at any point during your presentation (even in the first 10 seconds) that person is allowed to walk out of the room.
Yup. They can just pick up their notepad and leave for good.
Rude? Maybe. But that’s your incentive to try and keep as many folks engaged as possible. The more “attendees” you still have in the room at the end of your presentation, the better your score.
By putting yourself under this kind of pressure, you’ll be forced to take a harder look at your copy. You’ll have to now make sure that all the critical elements are present.
You’ll also be forced to trim the filler that doesn’t add anything to your core message - and cut out the empty hype that will send attendees running down the hallway screaming in pain.
**Critical Elements to Consider**
Here are some important elements to pay particular attention to:
* Prospect Pain. Do you understand the prospect’s problems? Do you understand what’s keeping him or her up at night? Are you demonstrating a good understanding of these issues?
* Positioning. How are you positioning your product? What’s your angle? How does this relate to the prospect and his or her problems?
* Benefits. Are you clearly articulating the product’s benefits as they relate to your prospect’s problems?
* Proof. Are you offering enough credible proof to back up your benefit claims, or are you resorting to hype or empty, overused statements that no longer carry any weight (such as claiming you have a “robust, scalable solution that offers seamless integration. ”)
* Credibility. Why should your prospects believe you? What have you done for other similar businesses facing similar challenges? How successful have you been in solving these problems?
* Value Proposition. Call it the USP (Unique Selling Proposition), value prop, key differentiator, or whatever you like. Just make sure you’re clearly communicating: why you, why they should care, why now.
* Call to Action. Do you have a clear call to action? How attractive (and relevant) is it to your audience? How many of those left over in the room will take you up on it (honestly)?
These aren’t all the factors to consider, but it’s a good start.
So before you send out your next piece, run it through this litmus test. Imagine yourself having to pitch this idea to a group of potential prospects. Ask yourself: would most of them walk out on me, or would most stay engaged till the end? How many would then take me up on my offer?
Better yet, put yourself in THEIR shoes. Would YOU stay and listen to the whole presentation, or would you lose interest and walk out?
This little exercise will force you to make the copy stronger, more compelling, more sincere. And this will pay off in better conversion rates and higher quality leads or sales.
© Copyright 2005, Ed Gandia. All Rights Reserved.
Ed Gandia is a freelance copywriter specializing in the software and technology industry. An 11-year sales veteran, Ed has consistently turned around struggling sales territories through his hard-hitting copy and focused lead generation methodology. To learn more - or to subscribe to his monthly lead generation e-newsletter - go to http://www.edgandia.com