I knew a fella in my twenties who was capable of selling sawdust to a lumber mill. In fact, I’m sure we all knew someone like this fella. The chap with the amazing charm that instantly makes you feel at ease, as though you’re part of some “special conversation.” This gent is the archetype of the charming, yet schmoozy, salesman. For years, I always wished I had this ability to charm and sell and envied those who could. It wasn’t until years later that I came to realize this type of sales skill isn’t always the best when it comes to building a business and gaining brand advocates.
Why? Well, the main hiccup with this charming sales tactic is that the individual rarely asks questions to understand you and your problems. They engage you by getting you to ask them questions, but never listen to what you are curious about or problem you’re having.
When you walk away from the conversation, you realize you weren’t fully engaged as you’re now feeling uncertain, almost buyer’s remorse-like, but not quite. Sure, you feel good, but not assured; content, but not satisfied; clear, but still oh so murky on what you and the individual talked about and agreed to. The more you think about it, the more questions you discover you have. This was a one-sided conversation where you were left merely answering “yes” or “no” rather than providing insight into why you were talking to this individual in the first place. They believe they have the solution for you, but don’t understand the real problem.
While this sales tactic isn’t wrong per se, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to building sustainable sales or relationships.
Starting Effective Business Relationships with Content
Think about the business purchases you’ve made where you are investing in value, not buying a product/service. Why did you decide to move forward with the company/solution you did? Did the company you purchased from sell to you as the charming sales archetype above, or did they engage you through questions and conversations that focused on you and your pain?
Chances are, they listened to your real problem and provided a real solution. They didn’t sell you a solution for a problem you never had, leaving you wondering what you just bought. You knew what you invested in and how it would relieve your pain.
Your content – whether website, newsletter, or landing page – is the exact same. Your content should “listen” by engaging your reader with value. When engaging from a place of value, you are creating more clarity in your conversations, letting readers understand what their next steps are and why. Beyond the text, you are able to have deeper conversations because your content demonstrates that you will listen and provide real solutions.
Readers want to know WIFM, the “what’s in it for me” value. This is rarely features-focused, and may not include why you believe they need your product/service. So, demonstrate that you’re there to provide their true WIFM.
Examining Your Written Sales Content
So, is your content “selling” by talking about what’s so great about your business…or is it listening to your reader by asking them questions or speaking to their pain with the right solution? Are you engaging them by meeting them where they’re at…or pushing a service on them?
For instance, “We create great content for businesses!” is more product focused, less value-driven, and much less engaging than “Is content creation making you want to pull your hair out? “
Breaking it down:
|We create great content for businesses||Is content creation making you want to pull your hair out?|
|– product focused (content selling)
– business focused (We)
– excludes reader from the convo
|– value-focused (maintain your sanity)
– reader focused (You, your)
– engages the reader with a question
Both highlight that content is the service, but one focuses on the value behind the service. Both are selling, but the focus on the priority who (reader) and what (their value) is more evident in the second.
Sales Content Driven by Value
The sole purpose of your content may be to sell, which, hey, is not wrong! Businesses must make sales to stay in business. Not to mention, if your business is online, you’re going to have content where the purpose is to make sales! So, even if the purpose of your content is to sell, notice if your content is selling in a way that reinforces your brand rather than contradicts it.
For example, if your brand is known to be fun, friendly, and welcoming, sales content that is pushy, exclusive, or negative can harm your brand rather than increase sales. If you continue to have this discrepancy between brand and sales content, you’ll eventually lose brand advocates due to the inconsistency between your sales techniques and brand personality.
This is why the skillset of being able to sell sawdust to a lumber mill is not always the best technique. After all, if you have to convince someone to purchase from you, you’re not connecting with a long-term client.
Develop content that engages readers and makes them feel like they are investing in a solution and you will never be seen as the charming, yet schmoozy sales archetype again!
Curious about examining your content? Have a few ah-has from your own content experiments? Share them below or contact The Write Harle for a chat!