Two questions for Claude Whitacre on sales objections and marketing

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Hello everyone,

I had a couple of questions for Claude to answer that may help everyone else out, so here goes.

My first question is what to do when prospects say that a service is not in their budget? Sometimes I feel this is a legitimate condition to not buying, and other times I feel it's just a brush off. What would you say to find out if a sale is possible? I normally just take it at face value and move on.

My second question is not sales related but relates to positioning and service offering, and really I just wanted to hear Claude's opinion. Most companies already buy content from someone else already, so I get people who are dissatisfied with their current service replying to my emails.

I've been toying with the idea that I could instead offer long-form blog articles of 1000 words or more exclusively. The first reason this came to mind was that it differentiates my offering from other content marketing companies that 'do it all,' and it's unlikely that someone has seen an offer presented like this before, but could still be in their field of interest.

Secondly, it's something that would complement what they're used to buying, so it's not about them rebuying an existing service or competing with what they already have apart from budget. In terms of fulfilment I'd also much rather provide one large article than four small ones, and the value to their business is generally greater in terms of SEO (time on page, backlinks, bounce rate etc), but this only matters if they believe this could be true for them too.

For some context, I'm targeting SMBs who have a blog and already publish content. So as a business owner yourself Claude, and say you were already buying content, how would I need to present this offer so it appears to dovetail into what you are doing with your blog already, as well as worth the premium price tag?

Thank you.
#claude #marketing #objections #questions #sales #whitacre
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

    Hello everyone,

    I had a couple of questions for Claude to answer that may help everyone else out, so here goes.

    My first question is what to do when prospects say that a service is not in their budget? Sometimes I feel this is a legitimate condition to not buying, and other times I feel it's just a brush off. What would you say to find out if a sale is possible? I normally just take it at face value and move on.
    The "It's not in the budget" objection occurs because you positioned your offer as an expense (at least in the buyer's mind).

    Budgets are there to control expenses, not facilitate growth.

    You need to position your offer as a profit center. And it needs to be done up front.

    I used to get that objection, and I would say "Of course it's not in your budget. It's not an expense. It's a profit generating tool". But it works far better if you don't have to say it, and you position yourself that way from the beginning.

    You need to talk to business owners with "Dollars in-dollars out". I know it's about content, but you have to tie it in with additional profits made.

    Here are a few examples o how to handle this;
    "Some people bring up budgets. If you tested out your marketing, and found that for every dollar you paid out, it lost 50 cents, what would your budget be for that?" And after they say "Nothing", you ask.

    "If you had a way to pay out $5 for every dollar invested, and it paid out this $5 within a few months...what would your budget be for that?"

    You have to keep asking (in different ways) until they say "I'd put in as much as I could". That's the answer you want.



    You want to shatter the idea of budgets. You need to break their train of thought...how they see your offer.

    This may sound self serving, but my book Selling Local Advertising has a whole chapter on how to overcome the "Budget" objection.

    What your selling isn't exactly advertising, but that's not a bad way to position it. Content that gets seen. Content that generates sales.

    I may come back to this, but there are others here that know more about content creation.


    Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

    and the value to their business is generally greater in terms of SEO (time on page, backlinks, bounce rate etc), but this only matters if they believe this could be true for them too.
    You have to position it as not content, but a way to get them seen by high quality prospects.

    Here's a question to ask "Have you ever had someone contact and buy from you because they saw something you wrote online?" (Yes). "Would you like more of them?"

    The actual method you use to generate this interest from prospects is less important to the buyer than the fact that it brings in customers. And it brings in customers because they read what you right. And they read what you write because they find it online. And they find it because it gets ranked highly. And it gets ranked highly because you are an expert in writing content that shows authority and gets ranked by the search engines.

    That's what you bring to the table. But it starts with them getting more customers.

    That's why budget doesn't matter.
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  • Profile picture of the author Matthew North
    Thank you for this. I do own your book on Selling Local Advertising so I'll re-read it. Content that gets seen and read by high-quality prospects was the winner in this post, as well as content that brings them more business.

    I'm working on how to communicate these benefits obliquely because as we said in another thread, it's a crowded market with many businesses repeating these same benefits, although it is the most logical and powerful reason for them to buy. Differentiating it with long-form content was one idea to stand out and be different, but I'm still working on how to nail the execution of this.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

      Thank you for this. I do own your book on Selling Local Advertising so I'll re-read it. Content that gets seen and read by high-quality prospects was the winner in this post, as well as content that brings them more business.

      I'm working on how to communicate these benefits obliquely because as we said in another thread, it's a crowded market with many businesses repeating these same benefits, although it is the most logical and powerful reason for them to buy. Differentiating it with long-form content was one idea to stand out and be different, but I'm still working on how to nail the execution of this.
      One idea that sometimes works (depending on many factors) is creating a unique feature in your offer (Like long form content), and spending most of your presentation focusing on that.

      For years, I sold a vacuum cleaner that was great quality...but was like many other brands. But it had one feature (An automatic height adjustment) that was unique. Most of the presentation centered on how that was a huge benefit, and everything circled back to that feature.

      This accomplished several things;

      It made the machine impossible to shop, because it was a unique feature...that they now saw as essential.

      It was impossible to compare prices with other brands, because this was a unique machine, and comparisons fell apart.

      I named the feature "The only vacuum cleaner with a brain", to differentiate it from everything else, and create a mental image in the prospect's mind.

      Your long form content can be that. Unique, only presented by you, and you can name it something that is appealing and provides value.


      "Unique custom articles long enough to get your whole story out, and make your phones ring" may be a place to start.
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      • Profile picture of the author Matthew North
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

        One idea that sometimes works (depending on many factors) is creating a unique feature in your offer (Like long form content), and spending most of your presentation focusing on that.
        Thank you for your reply. Why does this idea only work sometimes, and what would be the factors that help it along?

        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post


        Your long form content can be that. Unique, only presented by you, and you can name it something that is appealing and provides value.

        "Unique custom articles long enough to get your whole story out, and make your phones ring" may be a place to start.
        That's great! I'm going to work with this on the page, exactly what I needed, thanks.
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by Matthew North View Post

          Thank you for your reply. Why does this idea only work sometimes, and what would be the factors that help it along?
          Your "Unique feature" can be in several forms...

          An actual physical feature.

          A process of manufacturing, delivery, or instruction. For example, Domino's "Hot pizza delivered in under 30 minutes or it's free" (paraphrasing)

          A unique branding. For example, all tobacco was toasted in the 1960s. But one tobacco company said that their tobacco was toasted. It didn't matter that all tobacco is toasted (I'm assuming), it mattered who made the claim.

          Like the life insurance companies that say "Your premium can never be raised"...Well, that's how life insurance works. But if you make the claim, it sounds like you are the only one providing that benefit.

          The key here is that whatever way you make your offer unique, it has to be seen as a huge differentiating benefit, in the customer's point of view, not yours.

          They have to imagine your unique feature as a deciding factor, one they want.

          You can also use this positioning while using other strategies. For example, you can be the "Long copy guy" and the "We write unique well researched articles that are edited for search engines to rank highly...guy"

          You can do this in a bullet point list of benefits you offer. You just need to make sure that a few of these benefits at least sound unique to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author DABK
    Love the discussion.


    Wanted to say something from the point of view of someone who's been pitched content a times or two.


    I say no for many reasons.


    Sometimes the pitch itself is poorly written (as in typos, improper capitalization, etc.).


    Sometimes the pitch itself is poorly written (as in, they do not understand what I want or need).


    Sometimes, they pitch me and have no idea what kind of business they're dealing with. Well, often, not some times.



    Some know, so they pitch along the lines: We've worked with (business type) company before and know that x, y and z is important...


    But they miss the point. All they say is true, but it does not apply to me. And they could have known it had they bothered to read articles on my site(s).


    I know some other business owners who complain about the same things I do.
    One of them, wedding dresses, hates that the writing is not soft enough (I seen samples she likes. To me, and apparently all the writers that approached her but one (whom she hired), saw nothing but pointless fluff in thee.


    You can differentiate yourself by subniching your writing:
    if you approach wedding dress shops, you talk to them about the elegance and flufffulness of your content, if that's what they have on their site;


    if you approach a mortgage broker who specializes in renovation loans, you talk about your renovation loan content...


    if a mortgage broker who specializes in renovation loans and has conversational style content filled with specific details, you match that.


    Most content writers would approach both brokers with the same stuff... Yes, it requires you have extra knowledge... Or the ability to acquire it or mimic it, but people pay for extra knowledge...



    By the way, I know there are those who buy content just to be posting something on their site (and they want to pay little for it). And those, you'd approach differently.... Like I'm approached all the time.


    You need, like Claude already said, to connect your writing to future income... and to the style of the buyer... or the style they want to show the world.
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    • Profile picture of the author Matthew North
      Originally Posted by DABK View Post

      Love the discussion.
      Wanted to say something from the point of view of someone who's been pitched content a times or two.
      This is excellent info thank you. Your insights as business owner who already buys content from a marketer's point of view are very valuable.

      I do some research before emailing each company, for instance I look at their blog and see what kind of content they are publishing. I then write one sentence about what the company is doing already and save that in my spreadsheet. There's a field in my software that inserts this one line piece of research for each person automatically, as well as using their name, business name and industry.

      After reading your post, I realised that I could do better by expanding on this piece of research by including not only what they are publishing and what the style of the writing is, but how my articles could complement what they are doing already, as well as bring them more traffic and leads overall. I could also rewrite these research statements to reuse them in my cadence.

      I'm always looking for ways to improve this process, and how to make my emails feel more personal, so thanks.

      Originally Posted by DABK View Post

      By the way, I know there are those who buy content just to be posting something on their site (and they want to pay little for it). And those, you'd approach differently.... Like I'm approached all the time.
      Yes, I've come across this before and I'd like to filter out those people so I'm not spending time calling them, perhaps another step in the process that I need to research. I can see who clicks on the links in the software, so I could create a separate landing page that qualifies them further, i.e for only people who want to buy articles that generate results instead of just another thing to stick on their blog.
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  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    It all sounds like you are playing blind archery.

    Firing off reasons why they should buy from you
    without using the reasons they want to switch from existing provider..

    The reasons are in the mind of your prospects.

    You say your clients come to you
    because they are dissatisfied with their existing provider.

    This is going to sound too simple
    but it has worked in my old lawncare biz
    plumbing business in Auckland and USA
    builders in Auckland and USA.

    I discovered three reasons for
    calling me.

    They were and still are the reasons the plumbers and builders
    got the phone calls when switched to using
    these insights.

    The Auckland plumber had a 1,100% increase in calls year over year.
    (I have posted the before and after ad here)
    The USA plumber added an extra $30k per month revenue.

    The USA builder had to turn off his Google ad after
    spending less than $50 so he could do the $150k worth
    of build jobs.

    Right from the get go the focus was
    calling out the three problems, saying they will
    never happen with you
    and if they do you have a penalty
    that is scary to you.

    Jay Abraham in his book of case studies told about a pest control company
    that specialized in food manufacturing plants.

    The big cost to those types of business is
    if a health inspector found any bird or rodent droppings in the plant it's shutdown.

    So the pest control company said they would pay all costs of lost production
    if it should ever happen.

    In my lawncare biz I said if I don't turn up on time, don't clean up
    after me, don't do what I say I would do, my penalty is $1,000.

    Back then the average cut was about $30.

    Backing oneself with these types of penalties thins the heard down to one!

    So recognize patterns inside the complaints,
    don't let them happen to you. and recognize they have been burnt
    and you have to go to extraordinary lengths to have them trust you.

    Best,
    Ewen
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    • Profile picture of the author StevenTylerPjs
      Ewen,

      There are two examples that I used to hear on the radio, here locally.

      1. A real estate team that guaranteed to sell your house in 90 days or less, otherwise they would buy it.

      2. A lawyer that guaranteed to get you out of your timeshare, otherwise they would buy it.

      Neither make that offer anymore in their new ads. They were both new to my market when I heard the ads offering the guarantee. Honestly, I didn't believe either of them. I assumed there would be some loophole they could use to wiggle out of their guarantee, or just plan ignore it. But the ads did always get my attention.

      For your lawn care biz, since I'm sure it wasn't you at each job, did you ever have to pay the $1000 because one of your crews made a mistake?
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      • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
        Originally Posted by StevenTylerPjs View Post


        For your lawn care biz, since I'm sure it wasn't you at each job, did you ever have to pay the $1000 because one of your crews made a mistake?
        Once.

        When I started at $50.

        Then I worked my way up to $1,000.

        The point, which most don't get,
        it's not just about the self imposed penalty.

        It forces you to make sure your internal systems
        deliver the outcome your clients expect.

        Get other advantages too...

        like...

        become the highest priced in your market
        Get the cream of available clients
        No late payments
        Less wear on equipment
        Sell the biz at a higher valuation multiple, faster.

        Best,
        Ewen
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by ewenmack View Post

          Once.

          When I started at $50.

          Then I worked my way up to $1,000.

          The point, which most don't get,
          it's not just about the self imposed penalty.

          It forces you to make sure your internal systems
          deliver the outcome your clients expect.


          Get other advantages too...

          like...

          become the highest priced in your market
          Get the cream of available clients
          No late payments
          Less wear on equipment
          Sell the biz at a higher valuation multiple, faster.


          Best,
          Ewen
          Ewen; Phenomenal insight. I'm stealing it.
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        • Profile picture of the author StevenTylerPjs
          I understand the idea of forcing yourself to ensure your operation delivers the proper results. With the examples I gave, they just sound "too good to be true".

          Even with a lawn care biz, 'stuff' happens. A crew is running late because of traffic, a laborer is lazy and doesn't clean up, etc.

          But I can be a pessimist and focus only on what could go wrong, instead of optimizing what usually goes right.
          I would be afraid that the one time something went wrong, my rep is then ruined. I guess that's not realistic though (unless you're always dropping the ball). And that thinking is what holds people back.

          Appreciate the insight. Like I said, I always noticed those ads when I heard them on the radio. They always intrigued me. I'm sure they worked well for the companies using them.
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          • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
            Originally Posted by StevenTylerPjs View Post


            Even with a lawn care biz, 'stuff' happens. A crew is running late because of traffic, a laborer is lazy and doesn't clean up, et
            Here's how I handled it.

            The most common reason for turning up late was rain.

            So I would say that if I got rained out I would be delayed for the days of rain.

            For example, if I cut the lawn on a Monday and there was two days of rain, then I would turn up on a Wednesday.

            They totally got it.

            Best,
            Ewen
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    If it's not in their budget, work with those who do have a budget. Don't waste your time with those who look for the cheap or free way in.
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      Originally Posted by talfighel View Post

      If it's not in their budget, work with those who do have a budget. Don't waste your time with those who look for the cheap or free way in.
      Price is seldom a real objection. "No budget" is usually just used as a smokescreen for quickly blowing off pests. By going in with price before building value or positioning, you will always lose. But if you present enough value with substantiated results, the "budget" is rarely an insurmountable issue. Personally, I never mention price at all until the prospect asks.
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  • Profile picture of the author myob
    Dominos pizza also once had a performance guarantee - delivered in 30 minutes or the pizza is free. They are still recognized for fast delivery even though the guarantee has been canceled for years. Delivery drivers were getting into too many accidents.

    Fed Ex gained a huge competitive edge over UPS by guaranteeing overnight delivery by 11am. That is no longer advertised (nor possible), but their image of efficiency still lingers.

    Another one of my favorite examples is Sit N' Sleep mattress commercial, "We beat any advertised price or your mattress is FREE! They have never given away a free mattress yet, even though it sounds like a bold claim.

    Offering a performance or product guarantee is applicable even for affiliate products. All products I sell always includes an unconditional "ironclad" money-back satisfaction guarantee.

    Usually the vendor (ie Amazon, Clickbank etc) will already have this in place, but having a branded commitment guarantee to high performance and quality assurance upfront is a very formidable competitive position.

    Bold guaranteed claims always grab attention, and is generally far more cost-effective than competing by racing to the bottom in price.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by myob View Post

      .
      Another one of my favorite examples is Sit N' Sleep mattress commercial, "We beat any advertised price or your mattress is FREE! They have never given away a free mattress yet, even though it sounds like a bold claim.
      I love that guarantee. Customers have it in the back of their mind that they just...may..get...a free mattress.

      But of course, it's always possible to beat anyone's price. And no merchant is going to say "If I sell you that mattress for $800, I'll lose $50. So I'll just give it to you for free".

      A customer recently asked me "If I find this somewhere else for a lower price, will you refund the difference?"

      I said "If you find it somewhere else for a higher price, will you pay me the difference?"

      Yup, sometimes this is fun.
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