How to lose a sale in 3 seconds

30 replies
Hi everyone,

I've been lurking around the forum for a couple of weeks, but this is my first thread. The amount of useful information here is incredible, and just wanted to say thanks to all of you for taking the time to share your experience and thoughts.

I hope I'll be able to make a small (hopefully constructive) contribution to the discussions here and there. So I'll start with a little story that happened to me recently, which isn't about copywriting per se, but it has everything to do with it, I think.

---

I was approached on the street a few days ago by a nice looking guy wearing a white coat. He started explaining how he's from an NGO supporting AIDS research and if I had a couple of minutes to talk. I reluctantly said yes, knowing that he's gonna ask me for something.

But then he said "The number one cause of death among women aged 15 to 45 is AIDS and we want to...". There he got my attention. What? It wasn't cancer, or heart disease, or pulmonary whatever? I was intrigued, and I was in the target group he was describing.

He went on for 1 minute or so, and then he got to the selling part: he showed me a form and would I fill it in and give a monthly donation for AIDS research.

I wasn't ready yet, though I could have been convinced at that point.

I asked if they had a website so that I could research a bit before giving my money. And he said "Yeah, there's a website, but, you know, we're on the streets till 5p.m. and then we like to gather at the organization and put all the forms we got in a pile and be proud of them".

Guess what? Yup, he lost me. I said "That sounds nice, but..", asked for their website (with all the intention to check it out) and left.

I remembered because today I saw some guys doing the same. And I realized that I never went to check that website, although I genuinely wanted to. I delayed and I was a lost sale.

If, instead of talking about him and his nice pile, he would have said that I could make the difference between life and death for a woman just like me, well, there's a good chance they might be getting my money every month.

That's the little story, hope it wasn't a total bore.

Sabina
#charity #lose #sale #seconds
  • Profile picture of the author SMSWriter
    Not at all, Sabina. Thanks for sharing! I'm new too and your post does illustrate a potent lesson on sales, which most copy is designed to do. It's ABC -- Always Be Closing.

    He didn't close the sale, so he lost it.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6036616].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    Hi Sabina

    Welcome to the forum, and thanks for sharing.

    Yes, I can fully relate to your experience. When I worked in direct sales, it was literally DRILLED into us (I still have the holes in my head to prove it) that if we didn't "close" on the day, we weren't getting the sale.

    Oh, sure, clients said they'd call us back, said they were nearly convinced, they just wanted to think about it, yadda yadda.

    99 times out of 100 they never did.

    Your example perfectly illustrates why closing is such an important skill.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6037774].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author dardar
    Double glazing guy called the other day,I threaten to shoot him in the end,if he did not go

    I started of with 'I want to think about it',didn't take the hint.
    Signature
    Its dark but...I glow!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6038411].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    Therefore all salespeople should give up at the first sign of resistance.

    Riiiiight.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6038776].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Steve Hill
    Originally Posted by sabinavarga View Post

    I asked if they had a website so that I could research a bit before giving my money. And he said "Yeah, there's a website, but, you know, we're on the streets till 5p.m. and then we like to gather at the organization and put all the forms we got in a pile and be proud of them".

    <...>

    If, instead of talking about him and his nice pile, he would have said that I could make the difference between life and death for a woman just like me, well, there's a good chance they might be getting my money every month.
    The sad thing is, the salesman probably thought he WAS closing. But his mistake was that he made it about himself...not about what matters to his prospect. As Sabina pointed out, proper focus probably would have worked in her case.
    Signature
    Learn more - earn more: Books for Copywriters
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6039007].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I agree. The salesman talked about how many forms he had and that he would be proud of them. He should have been focused on how to entice you to part with your money and he was closer than he realised.
    Signature

    Cheers, Laurence. Writer/Editor/Proofreader.
    Website / Blog for more info.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6039285].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Welcome Sabina. It's nice to have a woman in here every so often. It kinda keeps the barking dogs in check. Hope you stick around.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6039412].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author sabinavarga
      Thanks everyone for your replies!

      Yes, that was my point. It wasn't so much that he didn't try to close -- cause he did, but that he made it about himself/the organization, when all I cared about was how my money was going to help.

      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      Welcome Sabina. It's nice to have a woman in here every so often. It kinda keeps the barking dogs in check. Hope you stick around.
      Thanks, I'll try to stick around.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6041286].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author DanMurray
    Too many people make the FATAL error of thinking THEY are more important that whoever they're selling to. BIG MISTAKE!

    Daniel
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6041393].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jimbo13
      Just out of interest, if he hadn't lost you at that point and had said something else, would you have filled in his forms or would you have gone home, looked on web and donated via their website if it tallied with what he was telling you?

      Dan
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6041463].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author sabinavarga
        Originally Posted by jimbo13 View Post

        Just out of interest, if he hadn't lost you at that point and had said something else, would you have filled in his forms or would you have gone home, looked on web and donated via their website if it tallied with what he was telling you?

        Dan
        Hi Dan,

        I think that for a monthly donation, which is a long term commitment, the pitch should have been longer, explaining exactly how the money goes to research, and how maybe I get a newsletter updating me on their work, etc. It's hard to say now if I would have been convinced by another pitch, but what's certain is that my interest was lost when he changed focus from helping women to helping him on his efforts that day.

        For a one time donation, it would have been easier to convince me. They could have then followed up with some emails saying 'look what your money is doing, click here to continue donating every month'. Getting a smaller commitment, and then going for the bigger one.

        And I would have gone to their website if I had a flyer or business card or something to remind me.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6041632].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author wilmath
        Not one, but two missed opportunities.
        The call to action is flawed because it is going to be extremely difficult to convince people to give their personal financial information to a complete stranger on the street. Had he given her a brochure, flyer or even a business card the sales pitch could have continued.
        On the other hand. They have a riveting headline, why not put it where millions, instead of a few, could read it. Direct mail, PPC or even posters where women congregate would have reached a much wider audience - at a cheaper price. Even if they were volunteering, their time could have been better spent broadcasting the message rather than cornering people.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6041635].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author WittyBlogger
    "I'll come back to you later." <-- NEVER!

    Well, in any kind of sales, you don't want them to procrastinate. Not when you're the one selling, anyway. It should be done in a "now, now, now!" fashion - something that pulses a craving through the reader's mind.

    -WittyBlogger
    Signature
    7-figure entrepreneurs aren't made overnight. You can make money online with a full time income through blogging and making words crackle with energy. ;)
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6045958].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Will Edwards
    It is a lovely story Sabina and your analysis is good too. He was focused on his own need rather than yours.

    Will
    Signature
    Whether you are a Reader, an Author or a Website Owner, we have something for you!

    Books that Inspire
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6053379].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author artgirl
      Originally Posted by Will Edwards View Post

      It is a lovely story Sabina and your analysis is good too. He was focused on his own need rather than yours.

      Will
      Excellent, eye-opening post Sabina and perfect analysis Will!

      Help others first and your rewards will follow!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6055693].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author JonMills
    Some people love their piles You should offered him some hemorrhoid cream
    Signature
    http://www.thecopywriterwhisperer.com/ Persuasion at it's best!
    http://www.affiliateorganizer.com/ Organize your entire online business - Super affiliates give it the thumbs up!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6054433].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Shadowflux
      You make a good point. There are a few opinions as to why this guy failed to sell you on his charity but here is why I think he failed:

      You have to make the customer relate to the product or service.

      His statistics grabbed your attention because they relate to you. When he started talking about "piles of forms", however, he showed that you're just one of many people. You need to let the customer know what your product or service can do for them. It doesn't matter if thousands of other people are using it, individuals only care about how it can benefit them.

      On a side note, however, it's good that you didn't give this guy any money. I've seen plenty of these types of people scattered throughout Manhattan. They always try a variety of different tactics but I always tell them, as politely as possible, to go away. Want to know why?

      Years ago, my brother was looking for a job. He managed to get hired by one of these "charities" and his job was exactly the same as the guy you ran into. The main office was a conference room which was being rented from a hotel on 34th street.

      It was exactly the same deal as you described. They stand around, ask for donations, come back to the "office" and hand in all their forms.

      I tried to do some research about the company but there was nothing on the web about them. No website, no press releases, no ads, nothing. I even went to the "office" with my brother one day. There were no signs, no posters, nothing to indicate that this was a real business.

      To make a long story short, my brother eventually quit because he found a better job. The "charity" was closed down soon after. It turns out that it was a total fraud.

      Not only that but the owners of the "charity" suffered a class action lawsuit because they never paid many of their employees!

      Just because people claim to be from a charity doesn't mean it's true. You should also never never never never give your personal credit card information to some guy on the street, no matter what his t-shirt says!
      Signature
      Native Advertising Specialist
      Dangerously Effective
      Always Discreet
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6054594].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author sabinavarga
        Originally Posted by Shadowflux View Post

        Just because people claim to be from a charity doesn't mean it's true. You should also never never never never give your personal credit card information to some guy on the street, no matter what his t-shirt says!
        It's true that there are a lot of scams out there and you make a good point. Too bad that the real NGOs that simply want to help a cause have to suffer because of the ones that try to trick people.

        If I see the guy/or someone from that organization again somewhere around I'll just ask for an email and redo their whole communication campaign .
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6055440].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author The Marketeer
    Welcome to the forum.

    Thanks for sharing that interesting experience with us.

    If you felt that the service they were offering was a valuable one despite the disappointing sales closing technique, then would you ever consider offering them some feedback on their sales process so that maybe they could use that to improve their service?

    And while you're at it just let them know what you do, if that niche is one you're interested or have any experience in.

    You never know where that could lead...

    Worst case scenario, they'll close more people and have a larger research fund to reduce AIDS related deaths amongst women.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6057806].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author ccurtin1
      You gave him a closing cue- you asked a question. That is what all salespeople want from a potential client. He was just ill trained to handle it.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6065459].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author SBCopywritingGuy
    I think he didn't do a good enough job of drawing you in. True, he got your attention but he wasn't able to capitalize on it.

    He didn't paint a well enough picture of the benefits of you contributing to his cause. He should have shown you pictures and results of contributions people have made. He could have even shown you case studies of women who are in remission because of the results of cancer research.

    It just sounded like he wanted you to feel sorry for someone and fill the form out.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6071212].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author DougBarger
    Sabina,

    Please don't feel guilty about the few women 15-45 who died due to the lack of
    funding for research that would have saved their lives.

    Just because you didn't contribute your part, doesn't mean any more than one of their lives was directly lost due to your neglect.

    And it could have been any other woman who was asked for support who didn't because of some hangup about the guy happy he had forms to prove he was making a difference to save more women's lives at the end of the day.

    Not just you.

    So, if the still small voice of your conscience tries to pipe up and get you to accept responsibility for the consequences of your choice...just tell it to be quiet.

    Eventually, it will go away for awhile.

    Just kidding.

    Welcome to the forum and solid 1st thread.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6071739].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author sabinavarga
      Originally Posted by DougBarger View Post

      Sabina,

      Please don't feel guilty about the few women 15-45 who died due to the lack of
      funding for research that would have saved their lives.
      Thanks Doug! Now that's a lot closer to persuasion .
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6071858].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author SteveSki
    Originally Posted by sabinavarga View Post

    "The number one cause of death among women aged 15 to 45 is AIDS"
    He would have lost me right there unless he could provide solid proof that his claim was true and not a BS fact told in the hopes of swindling money for a bogus charity.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6076860].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author The Marketeer
    Just in case you start hearing any other little voices that jump to incorrect conclusions...

    I thought I'd clarify what I meant in my initial reply.

    Firstly I wasn't trying to make anyone feel guilty about anything. Everyone has the free will to exercise however they wish.

    I was just trying to highlight the possibility of how a little constructive feedback can sometimes go a long way.

    Without feedback we'd never know what we're doing wrong or how to improve our skills.

    Also that unsolved problems that we notice all around us can sometimes be opportunities depending on how we look at them.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6077301].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author sabinavarga
      Originally Posted by The Marketeer View Post

      Just in case you start hearing any other little voices that jump to incorrect conclusions...

      I thought I'd clarify what I meant in my initial reply.

      Firstly I wasn't trying to make anyone feel guilty about anything. Everyone has the free will to exercise however they wish.

      I was just trying to highlight the possiblity of how a little constructive feedback can sometimes go a long way.

      Without feedback we'd never know what we're doing wrong or how to improve our skills.

      Also that unsolved problems that we notice all around us can sometimes be opportunities depending on how we look at them.
      Hey, thanks for both of your replies. I don't think you made anyone feel guilty and I didn't see it as an attempt to, anyway .

      I agree with you, feedback is essential no matter what you do. Giving and receiving feedback are two different sets of skills, but both require to leave our ego at the door - ideally.

      All the conclusions of the little story I told occurred to me after it happened. At that moment, it was just a 5-minute happening in my daily shopping for groceries, but I only thought about it and analyzed it days after. If I'd reached all these conclusions on the spot, be sure that I'd have given them some feedback (and even maybe offered to help with some ideas) .

      I've actually Googled them to send some feedback, but couldn't find their website -- or just couldn't identify it with what the guy described to me.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6077444].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author The Marketeer
        Originally Posted by sabinavarga View Post

        Hey, thanks for both of your replies. I don't think you made anyone feel guilty and I didn't see it as an attempt to, anyway .

        I agree with you, feedback is essential no matter what you do. Giving and receiving feedback are two different sets of skills, but both require to leave our ego at the door - ideally.

        All the conclusions of the little story I told occurred to me after it happened. At that moment, it was just a 5-minute happening in my daily shopping for groceries, but I only thought about it and analyzed it days after. If I'd reached all these conclusions on the spot, be sure that I'd have given them some feedback (and even maybe offered to help with some ideas) .

        I've actually Googled them to send some feedback, but couldn't find their website -- or just couldn't identify it with what the guy described to me.
        Glad to hear you made the effort to contact them. It's quite strange you couldn't find any info about them online. I hope they were legit.

        One of my favourite films is Groundhog Day. It has a very powerful message. Anyone wanna take a guess why?

        Again for the benefit of any "Quick Draw McGraw's" out there, I wouldn't dream of putting any new warrior through any guilt trips especially if they've done nothing to warrant it.

        And it's a bit too early for that anyway. Maybe after 100 posts or so...

        We'll save the guilt trips for the copy eh?
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6080923].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author JamesCx
    I don't think I've ever parted money or details with someone on the street. However, online is a completely different story... I imagine it must be far harder to sell in situations as you described since they're stopping people going about their day-to-day duties, with little to no interest in a subject and attempting to get money from them. Very difficult IMHO, in comparison to selling products which people already have an interest in!

    Good to hear things like this though; even if it doesn't help me out personally, I'm sure the experience will be extremely helpful to other people!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6077570].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author ejunkie
    There is a great sales & marketing lesson in that story.

    Moreover, a skeptic that I am, i checked the statistic about aids & women on the World Health Organization's website.

    At least the guy got that right. Here it is. Scroll down a bit and you will find it there.

    However, it isn't 15-45 ... it is 15-44. But that's ok.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6176534].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author sundown16
    it wasn't boring Sabina
    it made us think.. if you're selling it's NOT about you
    listen to your prospect is MORE important then talking to
    your prospect
    good lessons to bring to the online marketing table
    listen.. and give, give and give

    my 2 cents
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[6194632].message }}

Trending Topics