Mar 12, 2008

Sales Lesson Learned From Radio

Today, I was listening to my local public radio show. While listening, I realized they were off their "regular" programming for a pledge drive. I listened to their requests for money, and realized that these guys are MASTERS of SALES COPY! I'm not kidding. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if their phones were ringing off the hook. Here's the sales lesson I think anyone paying attention could have learned from them:

Sales Lessons Learned From Radio:

Lesson #1: Ask for the business (but don't specify how much).

When you ask for a donation, don't ask for a specific amount. They weren't asking for $500 per person. They were offering suggestions of $50, 20, 5, 500 - whatever people were comfortable with. What they were going for was a NUMBER of DONATIONS. All they wanted was 1,600 donations. I suppose they already ran the math on average contribution, and knew they'd reach their goal if they had more donations than normal. So, rather than end the drive at, say, 1,500 donations, they'll end it at 1,600. Not a bad idea, huh? Ask for the business, just make sure you don't try to direct which plan people buy or how much money they give you. They know what their form or proposal said. They'll make the best choice given their situation if you've led them to buy properly.

Lesson #2: Two Magic Words: CALL NOW (or BUY NOW).

These guys knew how to sell. Rather than say "call us when you're ready", they said these TWO magic words: "CALL NOW." Ah. Nice. See, they knew that if you didn't call now, you may not ever. They were looking for the instant conversion. Why not go for the money? If you're going to go for the money, the best time is almost always to go for it NOW, while the buyer is in front of you!

Lesson #3: Three more magic words: SIMPLE AND EASY.

Then, rather than say, you'll be on hold for 3 minutes, then we're going to ask you for a bunch of information, no, instead, they said these TWO MAGIC WORDS: Call now. they said THREE MORE magic words: It's SIMPLE AND EASY. I just love that phrase. SIMPLE AND EASY is a phrase that simply sells. Nobody wants anything complicated. No matter what you're selling, you always ought to use this phrase: our service is simple and easy.

Lesson #4: Instruct HOW to BUY.

What follows SIMPLE and EASY? Ask for the order. For example: It's SIMPLE and EASY to PLEDGE. Just dial 1-888-555-5555 and make your pledge now. They could just as easily have said "Just click this form. Just put your name here..." etc. Demonstrate that it truly IS simple and easy to buy, and the prospect will likely do it.

Lesson #5: Use FEAR OF LOSS as a motivator.

They threatened the fear of loss. Instead of saying "we know you love this show so please support it", which would sound like a beggar, they said, "If you enjoy Democracy Now, you need to act now to keep this show on the air. Your pledge is what brings this show to you every weekday at this time." See, they threatened the end of the show if the listener didn't pledge. It's a fear tactic. How would you feel to lose your favorite show? Probably pretty bad, right? They probably knew this. Their copy writer also probably knew "fear of loss" is one of the biggest motivators.

Lesson #6: Use HOPE FOR GAIN as the other motivator.

Next, they offered a GIFT. I couldn't have written a better idea in there at this point, myself. Gifts usually represent a "HOPE FOR GAIN" to the prospect. For example, a sweepstakes, grand prize, special discount if they call now, etc.; these are all hope for gain tactics. Frankly, if you want to win customers, offer a gift. After all, you can't just go around threatening the fear of loss without giving a chance to win MORE back by doing what you suggest. Thus, offer the HOPE FOR GAIN in the form of a gift. People will almost always sign up for a gift. Here's how they positioned it: "If keeping Democracy Now on their air isn't enough for you, then pledge over certain thresholds and we'll include a gift as a way to thank you for doing the right thing with your pledge. At $50, we'll include a boxed set of CDs.. at $150, we'll include the wine package from ABC Winery (can't remember the winery name), and at $500, we'll include tickets to the Symphony, the wine package, and the CD's - all for simply supporting a show you want to listen to and pledging like you'd probably do anyway, and best continuing to enjoy Democracy Now."


They THANKED THE LISTENER. How many times do we forget to thank the buyer? Make sure you don't make that mistake. I tend to send thank you's to every person who buys a product or service from me. I just think it's good form. George H. W. Bush sent "thank you" notes all through his career. Sometimes, he sent as many as 500 "thank you" letters a month. Do you think it helped him succeed? Whether you agree with his politics or not, you can't fault his sales follow-up strategy of saying "thank you". My Dad still has a letter from his son on his refridgerator. Clearly, it worked for Dad, who bragged that he got a "letter from the President" later that week. Expressing an attitude of gratitude is likely to help our sales "lift-off" to higher success.

Lesson #8: Follow-up the VERBAL with WRITTEN and gain UPSELL opportunity.

While we're at it, you ought to say thank you often - when you're in front of the client, and after the fact, through email and the mail. If you're not grateful for their business, your competition might be. But say you're grateful through a written letter. Of the first three jobs offered to me after college, every single one of them said they hired me in part "because you were the best who followed up with me with your letters and phone calls." Yes, say "Thank You" and follow-up your sale. Do it often, too. So, follow-up the VERBAL thank you with a WRITTEN thank you which might also set-up a future referral or additional sell. The best time to sell someone something is when they just bought, so they could also offer me a letter in the mail thanking me for purchasing, and offering a bonus gift if I included three referrals of friends who might pledge, or something else like that.

So, that's the lesson learned from the radio station. It gave me a reminder of what to say in some copy I'm working on right now. In addition, it reminded me to send a "thank you" letter to one of my recent clients. If you're stuck selling, try paying attention next time you hear people asking for money or selling something. After all, you just might learn something new that you can use in your bag of sales tricks.

Happy selling.

Copyright © 1999-2008 by Scott Andrews, CEO of ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved.

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