And turn even your worst salesperson into a sales machine
by Pablo De Hoyos
I started my first company at the age of 16. It wasn’t a successful project, but I didn’t invest much or lose much either. At the age of 24, I went bankrupt with my first serious company. We did everything wrong and I ended up with a personal debt of +$83k, no company and no income source to pay the debt. After that, I spent two years doing door-to-door sales for my new project: a marketing agency.
There’s something weirdly exciting about turning a complete stranger into a customer. The way adrenaline runs through your body is a feeling that no one who hasn’t done door-to-door sales knows. Whoever has done it understands it perfectly.
In a few months I was able to pay off all my debt and take my parents on a trip to Europe as a thank you gift for everything they had given me.
While creating marketing campaigns for my clients, I’ve learned a trick or two. There are many companies in which it is perfectly clear that marketing is the engine of sales. But for high-ticket companies with inside sales teams (as was my own agency), it’s not so clear cut.
Despite the thrill of taking a prospect through the entire sales cycle, I’d rather close more sales. And if possible, close them more easily and quickly. While doing marketing campaigns for my clients, I learned how to develop a tool known as a sales letter. So, I’ve spent the last 5 years implementing it for myself and helping other founders do the same. So what can a sales letter do for your company?
You can use it in written or video format to increase your lead conversion rate. You can increase sales volume and you can scale your business quickly if you know what you’re doing. Implemented correctly, it allows you to raise your prices while you increase sales volume.
Not to mention, for the right company (with gross contribution <$500), you can take a lead from stranger to customer without human interaction. It’s like infinitely cloning your best salesperson.
Historically, many companies have used the sales letter to sell millions or even billions of dollars, but still… launching a successful sales letter can be tricky.
If the message doesn’t resonate powerfully in your prospect’s mind or you don’t use the right structure, it can be difficult (and very expensive) to turn your efforts profitable. According to a qualitative study by Failory.com measuring common reasons why startups fail,
“marketing problems were both the most abundant and the most deadly. 46 out of 83 startups mentioned a marketing problem as the main reason for the failure of the project.”
So if there are so many companies failing because of marketing problems, how do we explain why some select companies seem to explode overnight using these types of sales assets?
What is the difference between these ultra-successful organizations and the rest?
How come some startups grow exponentially while others just disappear?
We recently took one of our clients (Grupo AmasB) from 8 months without sales to $1.75M in 9 months by implementing our sales processes. They raised their prices substantially, the service was relatively complex, and the decision makers were educated high-level executives.
I started to find a formula that worked very well for me […] and it started to work out. […] Between February and March we sold about 6 projects that in total must have been about $1.75 million.Danky Sáenz, Grupo AmasB
So how do we help hundreds of other founders 3x their sales? How do we take companies from being on the verge of bankruptcy to millions in revenue? How do we get high performing sales teams closing +30% of their opportunities?
The secret is in the sales process.
With a good sales process, and a powerful sales letter, any salesperson can become a deadly deal-closing machine.
Take the case of this sales letter from The Wall Street Journal as an example:
It is one of the legendary sales letters, having been successfully promoted from 1975 to 2003, generating over $2 billion in subscriptions for the newspaper.
A well crafted sales letter is worth millions. It can save you from hiring incompetent agencies, spending thousands in a commercial spot that does not bring in sales, or in training a sales reps who will leave to join another company in 6 months. It can make your marketing efforts profitable, and increase your conversion rates.
Now, in which scenarios does this work?
Pretty much always. The only thing that changes is the format in which you present it (letter, report, short video, long video, webinar, etc).
- If the sale price of your solution is <$200, you need a VSL (Video Sales Letter) + e-commerce.
- If the sale price of your solution is >$200 but <$1k, you need a webinar or a VSL + e-commerce.
- If the selling price of your solution is >$1k but <$3k, you need a webinar or VSL + inside sales.
- If the sale price of your solution is >$3k, you need a VSL or sales letter or report + inside sales.
This is obviously a generalization, but the point is that in any scenario in which you sell a high-tech solution, you need a sales letter in one of its different formats.
So the question is: How do you develop a killer and effective sales letter for your company?
There are several things that we must take into account. What you will discover is a battle proven process that has been used to generate billions of dollars over the decades. Technology has changed the delivery format, but the fundamentals of human psychology and persuasion remain the same.
This is what we are going to cover:
- The psychology behind all sales
- Capturing the attention of your prospects
- Developing a solid sales argument
- Making your prospect want you to sell to them
- Case studies and evidence – why they’re important
- The perfect structure
The psychology behind all sales
The first thing to understand is the psychology behind any sale. These are the foundations and everything else derives from these, so it’s essential to understand it perfectly. And although we can talk about it for hours, I think it can all be summed up in the following:
A sale happens when:
- you make an attractive promise, and
- you provide sufficient evidence that you can keep that promise.
Simple as that.
Actually achieving this can be tricky, but as long as you make a compelling promise and your prospects believe you can deliver on that promise, the sale will close.
For example, if the promised result is less valuable than your price, the promise will not be attractive.
Let’s say your solution saves your customers $1k/mo. of administrative work. If you’re aiming to charge $3k/mo. for that solution, it doesn’t matter how certain the prospect is that you’ll deliver. He’s not going to buy.
On the other hand, if you have a very compelling promise, but the prospect doesn’t think you can deliver on it, they’re not going to buy.
Suppose your solution allows your clients to increase their sales by $10k/mo. and you priced it at $3k/mo. The promise sounds good. However, if the prospect thinks there is a 5% chance that you will deliver, the expected value would be $10k * 5% = $500. Therefore, he will not buy.
Finally, let’s say your solution can save your customers $7k/mo. in taxes and you are charging $3k/mo. for said solution. The offer sounds good, and if you’ve given the prospect enough certainty that you can keep that promise, he’s going to feel stupid saying no.
This is a simplistic framework, but there really is nothing else at stake.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to work X or Y hours for the client.
It also doesn’t matter if your solution is a great innovation. Tech must be used as a tool to achieve a result more efficiently, not as a value proposition by itself.
If your promise is compelling enough and the prospect thinks you can deliver, he will buy. Nothing else matters.
Under this premise, we are going to develop everything that follows, starting with how to make an attractive promise.
Capturing the attention of your prospects
One afternoon I was stopped at the traffic light at my hometown. The heat was overwhelming, so I closed the windows and cranked up the air conditioning to its highest setting.
I was listening to music and was distracted, totally inside my head when a street vendor came up to knock on the window.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I just waved him “no thanks” without really looking at him, and went back to business.
He knocked the window again. «What’s his problem?» I thought. I had already told him that I wasn’t interested.
I made the gesture with my hand again, this time more aggressive. At this point I was outraged internally. «Why is he so insistent?» And yet, the vendor was still there. At this point I was already refusing to even turn and meet his eyes.
Then he knocked the window again, this time more insistent. Finally, I made eye contact and it turns out that he was not trying to sell me anything. He was pointing at the bottom of my car. He was trying to tell me I had a flat tire!
From one second to the next, the street vendor went from annoying interruption to welcome news. How did he go from being a disruption to a guest so quickly? Because he had something to tell me that I instantly recognized as important, urgent, and of value to me.
What your sales letter headline says and how you say it is absolutely critical. You have about 2 seconds to create interest and generate curiosity.
There are millions of different ways to write an attention-grabbing headline. Perhaps the simplest and most powerful is the following structure:
How to [GET RESULT] without [GREATEST FEAR]
This is a simple and straightforward title structure that works with any desirable benefit. “How” is one of the most powerful words you can use in a headline.
- How to delegate without worries
- How to improve the productivity of a sales team without paying more in commissions
- How to save 30% in taxes in a completely legal way
Notice how in the last example we’re not using the word “without”, but it’s implying that we’re not going to do anything illegal, which could be the biggest terror for people in a niche.
As you see, one of the best ways to write a catchy headline is to start with your catchy promise. What is the one thing you do for your customers? What result do you offer them?
So, we’ve made an attractive promise in out headline. We already have their curiosity, but we cannot rest on our laurels. We quickly have to engage them into out sales letter.
Developing a solid sales argument
The best way to start getting your prospect’s attention is by providing evidence that we can deliver on that promise.
Providing enough evidence and building enough trust in a stranger to invest their money in your company is not an easy task.
Since we’ve captured our prospects’ attention and they’re reading our sales letter, we need to send a powerful message quickly.
And the backbone of a powerful message is a strong sales argument.
If you ever took a logic class in college, the following concept will sound familiar (and if you didn’t, it’s pretty intuitive anyway):
The modus ponendo ponens is one of the rules of inference and valid argumentation. We know that if A is true, then B is true. Suppose A is true. Therefore, B is also true.
- If it’s raining, I’ll use an umbrella.
- It’s raining.
- Therefore, I will use an umbrella.
Your sales argument should be the statement that, if true, then your prospects will buy from you. It would look something like this:
“If I get people to believe that (my solution) is key to (achieving a specific result), and the only/best way to do that is through (my mechanism), then they will buy.”
“If I get people to believe that getting their meals selected and prepared by professionals is key to weight loss, and the best way to do that is through my personalized meal delivery service, then they will buy.”
If A happens, then they will buy. After we have this written down on paper, our next task is to focus all our efforts on making A happen.
Note that—for A to happen—your solution and/or mechanism have to be sufficiently unique. If they are very easy to replicate, then it won’t be the case that «the only/best way» to get the result is through your means. And therefore B will not happen either: they won’t buy.
Making your prospect want you to sell to them
You may remember the influencer marketing boom on Instagram that started around 2014-2015. People with relatively large audiences started doing so-called product reviews on their digital channels, and those reviews generated sales in droves.
This worked because people were used to traditional ads and an influencer review felt like a recommendation from a friend. It felt refreshing and trustworthy.
When brands discovered the power of this strategy, it caught on immediately. However, it was a passing fad. With so many «influencers» promoting all kinds of products (which later came to light that they didn’t even use or know about), the general public stopped trusting these reviews. It became, simply, one more advertising strategy.
The point of all this is that the modern human is so drowned with advertising everywhere he turns that he is trained to ignore it. Nowadays, people ignore influencer recommendations as much as possible.
So, how do we get your prospect to want you to sell to them?
The answer is through valuable content.
Your prospects want to be informed, learn new things, be better people, or just have some fun. Any type of content that achieves one or more of these things is going to be attractive to your prospects.
If you deliver it such that they learn about your sales argument, they will enjoy being sold to.
This works for all kinds of solutions. Many people believe that information can only be used to sell more information. But the reality is that if you define your sales argument correctly, providing information about that sales argument can be very persuasive (and even entertaining).
What do your prospects want to know about your solution? How can they be better in their work or life with information about this solution? How can you entertain them while they learn about this?
Case studies and evidence – why they’re important
The easiest way to provide evidence that a product works is with a demonstration of the product in action.
It’s what every infomercial in history has done.
In a service company, you can’t demonstrate the service in action. The best «demonstration» is usually case studies, success stories or testimonials.
For this reason, the best marketing in the world is not enough if it doesn’t go hand in hand with a great service. You can have the most compelling promise ever, use the most persuasive words, and have the most addictive content on the internet. If there is no evidence that the service works, you will struggle to close the sale.
It is not impossible. All businesses have to start somewhere. And usually, that place is not with success stories from past clients.
But you are definitely not maximizing your marketing results.
If you include evidence in your sales letter that you can deliver what you promise, marketing becomes much easier. The more evidence you have, the more credible your promise is.
That is why you need to offer a great service and generate success stories.
It is also important that you take the time to collect these success stories. If your customers are the happiest on Earth, but you’re not telling your prospects, they won’t know. This seems obvious, but I know many companies that don’t give it due importance.
The best structure to present a case study is as follows: Talk about the initial situation, then the final situation or result obtained. This is understood very well in the fitness industry with the typical «Before and After».
The more clearly you describe this transformation, the more powerful the case study will be.
The perfect structure
Finally, let’s look at the tried and tested structure where it all comes together. All the elements that we have talked about come together in a single document perfectly designed to generate sales.
And although it seems that we are doing many things at once, the objective is only one. That people believe in our sales argument.
The perfect structure looks like this:
- Three proofs
- Calls out the audience and establishes a connection (with a painful problem)
- Eliminates responsibility and introduce your thesis (sales argument)
- Establishes credibility
- Value content 1
- Value content 2
- Value content 3
- Value content 4 (optional)
- Value content 5 (optional)
- Summary of value content
- Enter two options and your solution
- Reiterate who this is for
- Show more case studies
- List the benefits
- List the features (optional)
- Present the offer and make a CTA
- Give warning
- Give guarantee (optional)
- Give bonus (optional)
- Recap the offer
This is the structure. As simple as that.
There is not much more to explain because all this arises from the foundations that we already covered.
This structure was designed in the last century and has been perfected over decades. So it’s important that you stick to this structure, especially when you’re just starting out. Once you have a little more experience you will be able to make some changes in the order, skip some things or add others.
The structure works.
But, it is key to remember that the structure is nothing without the right fundamentals.
As good as it is, this structure is not going to solve a poorly developed messaging. So, if you have the fundamentals in order, the only thing that follows is to translate them into this structure.
As for the production, it is not recommended to spend too much time on it, until the message is validated. This can take anywhere from 2 to 8 iterations, so speed is key.
The longer you spend doing each iteration, the more money you’re losing in advertising, overhead, and opportunity cost. So you have to make the iterative cycle as close as possible to validate the messaging as soon as possible.
If you develop a sales letter, in the right format, with the steps outlined here, you can improve the close rates of even the lowest-performing sales reps in your organization. Even for complex deals and the most educated decision makers.
If you need help developing your sales processes, based on a powerful sales letter, click to schedule a call: