Opinions needed from real copywriters.

25 replies
I've been wondering about this for a while and wanted some opinions from some real copywriters.

So there's copywriting.

There's selling. In person, face to face, over the phone, infomercials, etc.

They all come down to one thing: The Art of Persuasion

My question is, they're all very similar, but curious how much of a carryover they all have.

For example,

If you're a good copywriter, would it be fairly straightforward to transition to an in-person/over-the-phone/infomercial salesman?

And the other way around. If you're a good in-person seller / persuader, how easy would it be to get into writing copy?

And finally, if someone were to master the art of persuasion (on a general level AND a sales level, everyday interactions, getting desired results from people, etc), how easy would it be to transition into a rockstar copywriter?


For example I look at a professional salesman. I'm not talking the stereotypical sleezy one, I'm talking a PROFESSIONAL SALESMAN. Genuine, results-oriented, providing solutions to people. Knowing the process, the breakdown, mastering the call to action, closing real sales, providing top service, over delivering, I'm talking the salesman who dominates. A guy who UNDERSTANDS the system, and KNOWS what it takes. A skilled professional.

If this guy wanted to start getting into writing copy, would it come natural to him? What would he need to learn and sharpen in order to become successful in copywriting? Would he need to get familiar and develop things like writing styles, formats, layouts? Keep in mind he is a salesman who's in the KNOW with things like emotional triggers, logical reasons to buy, actually CLOSING the sale and not just selling the customer, etc.

Looking forward to hearing opinions.
Thanks all
#copywriters #needed #opinions #real
  • Profile picture of the author splitTest
    Originally Posted by ahakimi View Post

    My question is, they're all very similar, but curious how much of a carryover they all have.

    For example,

    If you're a good copywriter, would it be fairly straightforward to transition to an in-person/over-the-phone/infomercial salesman?

    And the other way around. If you're a good in-person seller / persuader, how easy would it be to get into writing copy?

    And finally, if someone were to master the art of persuasion (on a general level AND a sales level, everyday interactions, getting desired results from people, etc), how easy would it be to transition into a rockstar copywriter?
    Copywriting greats Bob Bly and David Ogilvy would back me up on this: writers are often shy, so it's not as easy for a copywriter to transition to face-to-face selling as it is for a good salesman to become a copywriter.

    Regarding salesmen becoming copywriters -- noted adman Claude Hopkins mentions in Scientific Advertising that some of the best copywriters are former door-to-door salesmen.

    Of course, that transition will depend on how comfortable you are with writing... Some people truly hate writing.
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by splitTest View Post

      .

      Regarding salesmen becoming copywriters -- noted adman Claude Hopkins mentions in Scientific Advertising that some of the best copywriters are former door-to-door salesmen.
      And some of the best copywriters aren't. So it's pretty much a wash.

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author Action Man
    Originally Posted by ahakimi View Post

    I've been wondering about this for a while and wanted some opinions from some real copywriters.

    So there's copywriting.

    There's selling. In person, face to face, over the phone, infomercials, etc.

    They all come down to one thing: The Art of Persuasion

    My question is, they're all very similar, but curious how much of a carryover they all have.

    For example,

    If you're a good copywriter, would it be fairly straightforward to transition to an in-person/over-the-phone/infomercial salesman?

    And the other way around. If you're a good in-person seller / persuader, how easy would it be to get into writing copy?

    And finally, if someone were to master the art of persuasion (on a general level AND a sales level, everyday interactions, getting desired results from people, etc), how easy would it be to transition into a rockstar copywriter?


    For example I look at a professional salesman. I'm not talking the stereotypical sleezy one, I'm talking a PROFESSIONAL SALESMAN. Genuine, results-oriented, providing solutions to people. Knowing the process, the breakdown, mastering the call to action, closing real sales, providing top service, over delivering, I'm talking the salesman who dominates. A guy who UNDERSTANDS the system, and KNOWS what it takes. A skilled professional.

    If this guy wanted to start getting into writing copy, would it come natural to him? What would he need to learn and sharpen in order to become successful in copywriting? Would he need to get familiar and develop things like writing styles, formats, layouts? Keep in mind he is a salesman who's in the KNOW with things like emotional triggers, logical reasons to buy, actually CLOSING the sale and not just selling the customer, etc.

    Looking forward to hearing opinions.
    Thanks all
    its better to sell shetland ponies to eskimos?

    not a good niche unless you want to starve to death..smiles

    Jim
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    I've worked with several 7 figure a year copywriters, and they have as varied backgrounds as could be.

    Best woman came from graphics arts, never sold a thing in her life.
    Highest paid was a former janitor who was mentored, he too, never sold a thing.

    Do I think a sales background helps? Yes. And NO. Sometimes a sales person has picked up some bad habits and may have difficulty overcoming some of the more nuanced points to writing copy.

    Sales provides some keen insights into human behavior, and a person with a study of psychology may also have a beginning head start.

    Those selling you copywriting courses, like to spin in it their direction.

    Desire and motivation (as in most fields) will beat the experienced person more often than not.

    My opinion is, it doesn't hurt you to have sales and psychology backgrounds, but whether it helps or not...is pretty much up to you.

    gjabiz
    PS. Sometimes I prefer a blank slate...who can comprehend what is taking place at the point where prospect meets copy...than someone who comes into the game KNOWING too much.


    Originally Posted by ahakimi View Post

    I've been wondering about this for a while and wanted some opinions from some real copywriters.

    So there's copywriting.

    There's selling. In person, face to face, over the phone, infomercials, etc.

    They all come down to one thing: The Art of Persuasion

    My question is, they're all very similar, but curious how much of a carryover they all have.

    For example,

    If you're a good copywriter, would it be fairly straightforward to transition to an in-person/over-the-phone/infomercial salesman?

    And the other way around. If you're a good in-person seller / persuader, how easy would it be to get into writing copy?

    And finally, if someone were to master the art of persuasion (on a general level AND a sales level, everyday interactions, getting desired results from people, etc), how easy would it be to transition into a rockstar copywriter?


    For example I look at a professional salesman. I'm not talking the stereotypical sleezy one, I'm talking a PROFESSIONAL SALESMAN. Genuine, results-oriented, providing solutions to people. Knowing the process, the breakdown, mastering the call to action, closing real sales, providing top service, over delivering, I'm talking the salesman who dominates. A guy who UNDERSTANDS the system, and KNOWS what it takes. A skilled professional.

    If this guy wanted to start getting into writing copy, would it come natural to him? What would he need to learn and sharpen in order to become successful in copywriting? Would he need to get familiar and develop things like writing styles, formats, layouts? Keep in mind he is a salesman who's in the KNOW with things like emotional triggers, logical reasons to buy, actually CLOSING the sale and not just selling the customer, etc.

    Looking forward to hearing opinions.
    Thanks all
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  • Profile picture of the author Jennifer Hutson
    Originally Posted by ahakimi View Post

    For example,

    If you're a good copywriter, would it be fairly straightforward to transition to an in-person/over-the-phone/infomercial salesman?

    And the other way around. If you're a good in-person seller / persuader, how easy would it be to get into writing copy?
    In my opinion, it's not as easy as you'd think to transition from one to the other.

    I'm great on paper, but absolutely terrible in person. The thought alone of selling someone over the phone or in person makes me shudder.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm very sociable and have an easy time talking to people, but for me, verbally selling someone is much more difficult.

    Copywriting is about formulating a well-thought-out plan of action. You have a beginning, middle, and end – a very clear blueprint of where you want to take your reader.

    With phone or in-person sales, you're constantly changing your plan of attack – answering questions on the fly and completely improvising the direction of the entire conversation.

    They're very different types of selling when you get down to it.

    Copywriting = Controlled
    Phone/In-person sales = Improvised
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    • Profile picture of the author splitTest
      Originally Posted by Jennifer Hutson View Post

      In my opinion, it's not as easy as you'd think to transition from one to the other.

      I'm great on paper, but absolutely terrible in person. The thought alone of selling someone over the phone or in person makes me shudder.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm very sociable and have an easy time talking to people, but for me, verbally selling someone is much more difficult.

      Copywriting is about formulating a well-thought-out plan of action. You have a beginning, middle, and end - a very clear blueprint of where you want to take your reader.

      With phone or in-person sales, you're constantly changing your plan of attack - answering questions on the fly and completely improvising the direction of the entire conversation.

      They're very different types of selling when you get down to it.

      Copywriting = Controlled
      Phone/In-person sales = Improvisation
      Good points.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark 99
    Before I got into copy I was a salesman for various companies and a wide range of products. From Yellow Pages advertising to selling chemicals and a ton of stuff in between.
    I was very successful without putting in a lot of effort learning. It just seemed to come naturally to me and I was always one of the top sales reps where ever I went.

    Copywriting on the other hand has been a challenge, in fact the most difficult skill I have ever learned. I have been at it for over 2 years and am only in recent times seeing consistent results and the rewards I set out to achieve. Copy writing is hard work but if you study the right stuff, work hard and set your goals then you can succeed.

    In answer to your question: I think it would be a lot easier being a master copywriter transitioning to face to face sales than salesman to copywriter but I guess that depends on your personality like split test said.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnRussell
    Take a look at Perry Marshall's Marketing DNA test. It will help you understand whether you are better scripted or live etc.

    It's a really telling test.

    The same principles apply face-to-face. I sold face-to-face for 15 years. I did well but would never be a rock star.

    For me it's scripted (copy) all the way...
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  • Profile picture of the author Abhinay Reddy
    Well Dude, look.

    Both are different transitions.

    The most important thing in a sales call, or sales presentation is your tonality.

    As Jordan Belfort says "Tonality is 98% of the sale".

    So phone salesmen must train their sales tonality to the best.


    Whereas that's not important in copywriting.

    In Copywriting, the words you use and the phrases you use play the game.

    Copywriting works perfect for people who are shy to actually speak on the phone, or speak in front of the camera.


    And morever you kinda have better control in a sales call, or one-on-one sales pitch as you can always tailor the pitch according to the other person's needs and requirements which is not possible through a sales presentation or sales letter.

    However, both work perfect but for different archetypes of people.

    It's easier for door-to-door salesmen, phone salesmen,etc to be copywriters but it's quite tough vice-versa.

    Just my opinion
    Ab
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  • Profile picture of the author jjosephs
    Well think of it like this...

    The in-person selling process is immediate and fast paced. Get the attention, identify the need, alleviate the risk, close the deal...

    In written copy, you also have to do all that... But copywriting lets you construct your own unique highway of imagination. There's an intimacy, deliberation and nuance which is hard to capture in person till you know someone much better (or at least after a few stiff drinks)

    While copywriting mimics the rhythm and structure of live sales, it also has the ability to steer the copy in directions that would make a live salesman sound like a raving maniac... If he could even remember it all.

    Copywriters are often voracious readers, not just marketing books, but a huge array of topics. This is the stuff they bake into their writing.

    My point is, the old adage "copywriting is just sales in print" doesn't tell the whole story. The medium is the message, and people experience print and web copy differently than a live human being.

    Embrace the difference.
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  • Profile picture of the author angiecolee
    It's the same in every industry, sales based or no.

    There are several professions in every industry that have overlapping skill sets. That doesn't necessarily mean one job can easily transition to the other, but the SKILLS are transferable, so it's up to the person to apply that knowledge and adjust.

    Think about someone who lays foundations deciding to be a sculptor who works in stone.

    Same basic skill sets: construction, basic engineering, laying foundation, working with rebar and maybe concrete

    Differing skills: details, finishing, designing something with a completely different end use

    Some people can't make that transition. Some can.

    It's up to the person. Can they grow and adapt, or are they really only good at the set of skills they're good at?
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  • Profile picture of the author ahakimi
    Great insights from everyone. Thanks all.

    I'd be more interested now to hear about some real life experiences from people that found skill X from their Sales training helped them with X in their copywriting, and real life examples of some carryover that they have used. I'd like to delve into the minds of those who have utilized the skill set from one and applied it to another; it tells a lot about how a person thinks.
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    • Profile picture of the author Abhinay Reddy
      Originally Posted by ahakimi View Post

      Great insights from everyone. Thanks all.

      I'd be more interested now to hear about some real life experiences from people that found skill X from their Sales training helped them with X in their copywriting, and real life examples of some carryover that they have used. I'd like to delve into the minds of those who have utilized the skill set from one and applied it to another; it tells a lot about how a person thinks.
      The one thing I learnt a lot from offline sales and persuasion is the strategy of sales.

      Dude, see no matter how you are selling, or where you are selling, the things to be established in your prospect's mind remains the same.

      The Eager want, the emotional box, the logical box, etc. So this is one important thing that i learnt.

      Ab
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    Originally Posted by ahakimi View Post

    I've been wondering about this for a while and wanted some opinions from some real copywriters.

    So there's copywriting.

    There's selling. In person, face to face, over the phone, infomercials, etc.

    They all come down to one thing: The Art of Persuasion

    My question is, they're all very similar, but curious how much of a carryover they all have.

    For example,

    If you're a good copywriter, would it be fairly straightforward to transition to an in-person/over-the-phone/infomercial salesman?

    And the other way around. If you're a good in-person seller / persuader, how easy would it be to get into writing copy?

    And finally, if someone were to master the art of persuasion (on a general level AND a sales level, everyday interactions, getting desired results from people, etc), how easy would it be to transition into a rockstar copywriter?


    For example I look at a professional salesman. I'm not talking the stereotypical sleezy one, I'm talking a PROFESSIONAL SALESMAN. Genuine, results-oriented, providing solutions to people. Knowing the process, the breakdown, mastering the call to action, closing real sales, providing top service, over delivering, I'm talking the salesman who dominates. A guy who UNDERSTANDS the system, and KNOWS what it takes. A skilled professional.

    If this guy wanted to start getting into writing copy, would it come natural to him? What would he need to learn and sharpen in order to become successful in copywriting? Would he need to get familiar and develop things like writing styles, formats, layouts? Keep in mind he is a salesman who's in the KNOW with things like emotional triggers, logical reasons to buy, actually CLOSING the sale and not just selling the customer, etc.

    Looking forward to hearing opinions.
    Thanks all
    I've had great success in both, but for completely different reasons, so I'd say no...you can't simply translate one to the other.

    Although, I do believe going from sales person to copywriter is much easier than the other way around.

    The same principles apply, but that's about as far as it goes.

    In person, there's more pressure to think quickly, respond to concerns with confidence, show confidence in your body language, voice tone and pace...without having time to craft, edit and refine your response. All on the fly. You're like the Marine parachuting out of the helicopter and directly into a chaotic ground war....and the only ammo you have it what you're carrying.

    With copywriting, you have time to craft and refine your response. But you also have to keep the person engaged in what is essentially a one way communication. That takes patience, insight and strategy. You're like the spy, the sniper or the assassin who has to sneak in behind enemy lines, alone, find the target and nail it on the first shot.

    Turning a trained Marine into a sharpshooting spy is just a matter of reapplying the same skills. But turning that sniper into a live action combat soldier takes reapplication, and a whole new set of skills executed in real time. Otherwise, he's going to get shot down long before he has a chance to do anything.
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    • Profile picture of the author ahakimi
      Great analogy sethczerepak, I think this nails it.
      So the "correct" answer would all come down to the individual's learning ability and ability to persist and master that new skillset.

      Awesome stuff.
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      • Profile picture of the author Nancy Wharton
        This is my first post EVER on the WF, but I thought this was such an interesting conversation...I'm moving from a music career to copywriting and I have been able to find parallels between performing and copywriting. Grabbing a crowd, holding a crowd...getting them to hang on your next word....

        I think any skill set that you've excelled with (in any career) can be applied to a new pursuit if you really assess your strengths. If you've been a confident sales person, that would certainly lend to some success in a sales writing capacity. You would be armed with specific selling knowledge but maybe it would limit your ability to go outside the box?

        That said, confidence in any vocation - be it a killer waitress, an amazing painter, a fantastic medical assistant....whatever - all of these things take confidence and engagement in different ways. Customer service (which is so under appreciated) offers ENDLESS insight into the myriad shades of humanity and that's where the key to making sales sits.

        I can't sell ANYTHING in person because I have absolutely NO pokerface. For instance, I couldn't, in good conscience, sell someone a $200 lambswool sweater because I think paying that much money for a sweater is insane and it reads on my face. This renders me useless in a retail setting.

        But if given the time to craft a clever and compelling pitch to the elitist lambswool sweater community with time to research their wants and tune in to their needs till I have the info I need to get them buying? Well, that's like music to my ears!
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        • Profile picture of the author CopyMonster
          Originally Posted by Nancy Wharton View Post

          This is my first post EVER on the WF, but I thought this was such an interesting conversation...I'm moving from a music career to copywriting and I have been able to find parallels between performing and copywriting. Grabbing a crowd, holding a crowd...getting them to hang on your next word....

          I think any skill set that you've excelled with (in any career) can be applied to a new pursuit if you really assess your strengths. If you've been a confident sales person, that would certainly lend to some success in a sales writing capacity.
          Thanks for posting. Absolutely.

          I can't sell ANYTHING in person because I have absolutely NO pokerface. For instance, I couldn't, in good conscience, sell someone a $200 lambswool sweater because I think paying that much money for a sweater is insane and it reads on my face. This renders me useless in a retail setting.
          But what if it wasn't your pokerface or anything at all to do with your face?
          What if it was just about the stuff floating inside your head?
          What if you didn't believe everyone had the same beliefs and values as you?
          Just wondering...
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          Scary good...
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          • Profile picture of the author Nancy Wharton
            Originally Posted by CopyMonster View Post

            Thanks for posting. Absolutely.

            But what if it wasn't your pokerface or anything at all to do with your face?
            What if it was just about the stuff floating inside your head?
            What if you didn't believe everyone had the same beliefs and values as you?
            Just wondering...
            Oh - it's TOTALLY about what's floating around in my head! I confess!

            Of course not everyone has the same beliefs and values as me....I guess this goes back to assessing strengths and acknowledging limitations. I did indeed struggle with standing behind/selling something I didn't "believe in."

            Interestingly, I worked with a great copywriter and he sussed this out in me almost immediately and made me write a letter on something I might've taken this type of issue with.

            It was a GREAT exercise to face my own biases, overcome them and just DO THE WORK. I think copywriting has a way of making you break down your pre-conceived notions (re: price, usability, end-results) and tear it all down forcing you to appeal to your customer and their audience alone. This was a fun challenge for me and really changed my perspective.

            So, I guess what I learned is that copywriting & it's persuasive element can sometimes require a willing suspension of disbelief. And that I, personally, am better at it on paper than in person.
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  • Profile picture of the author Curtis2011
    I disagree that sales is about persuasion.

    Why? Because if you are selling a product that actually provides value to your target market, and you are advertising it to your target market, then very little "persuasion" is really necessary.

    In other words, with the right research, preparation, and product, selling a product is more about presentation than persuasion, ie "how can I communicate all of the value that my product provides in a way that my customer will instantly understand that this is exactly what they already want?" rather than "how can I convince this person to give me money for this thing I want to sell".
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    • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
      Originally Posted by Curtis2011 View Post

      I disagree that sales is about persuasion.

      Why? Because if you are selling a product that actually provides value to your target market, and you are advertising it to your target market, then very little "persuasion" is really necessary.

      In other words, with the right research, preparation, and product, selling a product is more about presentation than persuasion, ie "how can I communicate all of the value that my product provides in a way that my customer will instantly understand that this is exactly what they already want?" rather than "how can I convince this person to give me money for this thing I want to sell".
      If a prospect has already decided to buy, the next question he asks himself is, "Who should I buy it from?"

      Convincing him to buy it from you instead of somebody else most definitely requires persuasion. In some cases, a lot of persuasion is needed to "seal the deal".

      Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author JoeInTheMiddle
    An ability to communicate well in person doesn't automatically carry over to communicating on paper. So much goes into face to face sales that doesn't apply to copy writing and vice versa. Being a good salesman can involve reading body language, knowing when people are ready to walk, making people like and trust you etc.

    I know a couple of great salesman who can barely put pen to paper. However, I also know one salesman in particular who is a fantastic people person and can also convey himself brilliantly through written text.

    In answer to your question, I really think it all depends on the person.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      I'm not a great copywriter. But I am an elite salesperson. 35 years of direct experience, plus 5 books, plus sales training......in my niche of in home sales, I'm thought of as a minor celebrity.

      I've also studied copywriting. All the same books you guys have. Watched all the DVDs of the greats... not to create sales letters, but to make my personal selling better.

      Both advanced copywriting and advanced selling are deeply complex. Maybe equally so.

      I can tell you that studying copywriting has improved my selling. How? It gives reasons why what I'm doing, is working. It shows more clearly the structure of a persuasive argument. Copywriting teaches the components of building a presentation.

      I've learned the best use of language from my copywriting studies.

      The same with marketing. Studying the great marketers, has really boosted the results I get when selling. In fact, my biggest gains came after applying a strong idea from reading great copywriting....or a great book on copywriting.

      It's like studying a book on logic, when you are debating. It gives you structure....you learn the principles.

      I know from talking to several copywriters at the Warrior events, that copywriters are bright. It may be their only common trait.

      Would sales experience help a copywriter? Not necessarily. But studying great copy certainly helps in high end selling.

      And if you're a great copywriter, you know how to sell. You may not be great at it in practice..but you know the process well.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeHumphreys
    Originally Posted by ahakimi View Post

    I've been wondering about this for a while and wanted some opinions from some real copywriters.

    So there's copywriting.

    There's selling. In person, face to face, over the phone, infomercials, etc.

    They all come down to one thing: The Art of Persuasion

    My question is, they're all very similar, but curious how much of a carryover they all have.

    For example,

    If you're a good copywriter, would it be fairly straightforward to transition to an in-person/over-the-phone/infomercial salesman?
    No, not necessarily. It's two different skillsets.

    And the other way around. If you're a good in-person seller / persuader, how easy would it be to get into writing copy?
    It depends on whether you enjoy doing loads of research and the entire writing process. Most people don't.


    And finally, if someone were to master the art of persuasion (on a general level AND a sales level, everyday interactions, getting desired results from people, etc), how easy would it be to transition into a rockstar copywriter?
    It's a journey, not a destination. To get to rockstar copywriter status (whatever that means) takes ongoing work and continual work on improving your skills. For me, it took me a number of years to reach the skill level I'm at now and I'm still working on getting better all the time.
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  • Profile picture of the author wrcato2
    Great conversation. I agree with Alex, it really is a wash because there are great sales people that can think fast on their feet, sound slick, look slick, and use similar verbiage that a copy writer will use to persuade.

    The problem with face to face sales people vs. copy writer is the copy writer will always outsell the best sales person. Why because we know where our hungry market is. We can spend a week on a sales message and then send it out to thousands or millions.
    Lets see the sales person do that in a year.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by wrcato2 View Post

      Great conversation. I agree with Alex, it really is a wash because there are great sales people that can think fast on their feet, sound slick, look slick, and use similar verbiage that a copy writer will use to persuade.

      The problem with face to face sales people vs. copy writer is the copy writer will always outsell the best sales person. Why because we know where our hungry market is. We can spend a week on a sales message and then send it out to thousands or millions.
      Lets see the sales person do that in a year.
      You don't think a great sales person knows how to find his ideal, tested, proven, highly likely to buy market? I wrote a book on that very subject.

      The top direct marketers have great sales letters. They also have affiliates. But you know what many of them also have? Telemarketers.

      But the essence of what you say is true. One salesperson won't contact 100,000 prospects in a month.
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