The one time that you SHOULD make your prospects feel stupid

I remember one time trying to sell insurance to a prospective client and I fell into the terrible industry insider habit of using an acronym instead of the actual name of the insurance product. That client called me out on it (rather harshly, but for good reason) and reminded me that I was the expert and she didn’t know what the acronym meant. It put me in my place and I’ve never forgotten the lesson.

In general, it’s a bad idea to make your prospects feel stupid. Salespeople lose sales because they (unintentionally) belittle their potential customer by speaking down to them or by acting in a condescending manner. It can be easy to do, especially if your profession requires a lot of education or qualifications, or if there are a lot of difficult-to-understand intricacies (like with the insurance I was selling).

But there is one time when it’s okay to make your prospects feel stupid.

Okay, I don’t mean that you should actually TELL someone that that they are stupid. You should always sell positively and professionally! But it’s okay to construct your sales presentation in a way that your client draws their own stupidity inference:

Without explicitly stating it, it’s completely acceptable to make your prospect think: “I would be stupid if I didn’t buy this right now.

Apple does this brilliantly. By setting up their products as brilliant innovations of genius (and by setting up “the other guys” as a foil) it makes it very clear who the hip buyers should emulate. They do this pretty consistently in their various marketing efforts and particularly in this series of videos…

They’ve done it so brilliantly that Blackberry embarrassment has become a thing. (Note: I’m a Blackberry user. Don’t judge me.)

Apple isn’t the only one but I have to say that they are probably one of the most effective I’ve ever seen. Their marketing not only promotes their products but it tells users that they’d be STUPID to buy something else. (Again, they never do this explicitly… and that’s the beauty of this method).

As business owners, many of us approach a potential sale (i.e. when we make a sales presentation or when we write a sales letter) and we try to sell with the minimum amount of selling. We try to close the deal with as little sales effort as possible. So rather than building deep sales tactics into everything we do, we simply slap a thin coat of selling on everything and then wonder why no one is buying. But if you want to tip the Scales of Purchase in your favor, one of the ways you can do this is to make your prospect feel stupid about not purchasing your product and about even considering purchasing anything else.

The way to do this is to consider all of the possible sales outcomes and to overwhelmingly point them in the direction of buying now while setting up a disdain for any other option.

The usual sales outcomes are…

  1. Buying now (awesome!)
  2. Delaying the purchase
  3. Buying from someone else
  4. Buying an alternate solution (i.e. a substitute solution from an indirect competitor).
  5. Putting up with the problem

To help increase the likelihood of closing the sale, your sales efforts should make the potential buyer think “I’d be stupid for not buying now!” by establishing the buy now option as the best option and every other option as a terrible choice.

Here are some ways to “make your prospects feel stupid”…

  • Overwhelm them with value. (By the way, have you read my primer on value? It’s a must-read if you want to sell more.)
  • Sell with the Chain of Agreement.
  • Learn to think that objections are awesome and masterfully handle every objection a potential customer offers up.
  • Stir up a sense of urgency.
  • Highlight the cost of not acting right now and put that cost in terms that your clients can understand.
  • Increase the scarcity of the your solution. (This one is tricky because a lot of businesses use a false sense of scarcity).
  • Make it INSANELY easy to buy — as few hoops as possible.
  • Overwhelm them with testimonials of other people who are completely happy.
  • Set up all other choices as a foolish foil against buying now.

Note: I want to be absolutely clear here! I would never advise that you belittle your prospect or actually make them feel stupid. However, you can sell more by selling so effectively that your prospect thinks “I would be stupid not to buy this right now!”

The Scales of Purchase: The secret decision-making process that all potential buyers go through

Imagine a scenario where you are interacting with a potential buyer. It doesn’t matter if you sell face-to-face and you walk them through your showroom or if you sell over the phone or online or you are a real estate professional or financial advisor who sells your services in the comfort of their living room.

Whatever the actual scenario is, it’s you selling to them. And before they buy from you (or sign up or commit to a program or whatever you’re selling), something secret goes on in your potential buyer’s mind.

The Scales of Purchase are weighing!

… will they weigh in your favor or against you?

These Scales of Purchase represent all of the reasons for buying from you compared to all the reasons against buying from you. As your prospect listens to your sales presentation and interacts with your marketing material, they put an imaginary weight on one side of the scale or the other. It’s unconscious and it’s ongoing throughout the entire sales funnel relationship.

For example…

  • They see that the product comes in blue and that’s exactly the color they want… one small weight goes on the reasons to buy side of the Scales of Purchase.
  • They want it delivered immediately but you need to pick up the item from the warehouse so it won’t be delivered until tomorrow… one small weight goes on the reasons not to buy side of the Scales of Purchase. (Unless they really needed it today, in which case it’s one large weight that goes on the reasons not to buy side of the Scales of Purchase).
  • They ask you how much it costs and you tell them. And since price is important to them, and since your price is relatively high… one large weight goes on the reasons not to buy side of the Scales of Purchase.
  • You tell them about your amazing 100% no-questions-asked money-back guarantee… one small weight goes on the reasons to buy side of the Scales of Purchase.

Throughout your entire sales funnel — from the moment the potential buyer first notices your company to the point where their finger is hovering over the buy now button — they are adding unconsciously adding weights to the Scales of Purchase. These imaginary weights vary in size, depending on how important that one particular factor is to the customer.

Your job as a salesperson (regardless of what you actually do for a living, you are a salesperson), is to overwhelm them with many heavy-weighted reasons to buy!

That’s why it’s so important to list your features (small weights on the reasons to buy side) with benefits (large weights on the reasons to buy side). That’s why you should restate your benefits in different ways, since some word pictures might resonate with prospective buyers better than others. That’s why it’s so important to hammer home the concept of value.

But let’s not just stop there! Here are other ways to tip the Scales of Purchase in your favor:

  • By handling objections effectively, you can remove them as reasons not to buy… and in some cases, you can even transfer those imaginary weights to reasons to buy!
  • Customers pay attention to how you talk about price (just like border guards) so make sure that you are speaking positively and confidently about the price of your product or service.
  • Listen to how your prospect describes their problem and the solution they seek and parrot back some of their language to them (only if it truthfully describes your product or service, of course). You’ll more clearly resonate with the exact message they’re looking for.
  • And the easiest and fastest way to get them to add weights to the reasons to buy side of the Scales of Purchase is to ask them questions and demonstrate how your solution addresses every concern they have.

That’s not the only thing you can do to increase your ability to tip the Scales of Purchase in your favor. You can also increase the size of the weights on the reasons to purchase side of the scale by doing this…

  • Stir up a sense of urgency to motivate them to weigh the solution more heavily in favor of buying.
  • Establish a sense of credibility and authority as a thought-leader.
  • Build trust with the customer.

Before every purchase, a customer is unconsciously weighing the Scales of Purchase. You can tip them in your favor with some of these strategies.

This concept is related another blog post of mine — Selling with the Chain of Agreement — because by selling with the Chain of Agreement, you are only moving forward every time the person puts a weight on the reasons to buy side of their Scales of Purchase.

25 ways that real estate professionals can position themselves as local experts

One of the ways that real estate professionals market their services is by positioning themselves as “local experts” — someone who knows the city/neighborhood/community extremely well.

I’ve always been torn about the value of this marketing technique. (In fact, I listed it as one of 5 marketing tactics that real estate professionals use that can hurt their business. See all five here: Free home valuations, claiming to give great service, doing kitcshy things like wearing a chicken costume, guaranteeing a home sale, and positioning yourself as a local expert). But among those five dangerous marketing tactics, the local expert one is the one I’ve been most on-the-fence about.

I think there can be value in positioning yourself as a local expert — just remember that you are serving the buying market and not the selling market. I think there COULD be value in this positioning but the real estate professionals positioning themselves as local experts often do very little to convince me that they are local experts. In the marketing I’ve seen from real estate agents claiming to be local experts, it all appears to be just a thin coat of marketing paint without any real substance behind it.

IF you are going to position yourself as a local expert than go all out and BE the local expert. Here are 9 ways to actually be the local expert:

  1. Shop at the stores in your area. Eat at the restaurants; get your hair cut at the salons; shop at the little mom and pop stores. Don’t just do it once to get a feel for the area… Become known by each store owner and their staff. Stop by and say hello without asking for anything back. Make it YOUR neighborhood… just Don Corleone and other mobsters do.
  2. Write the ebook about your local community. Check out this video to learn more…
  3. Write articles in your community newspaper.
  4. Write a series of definitive Squidoo lenses on your local area.
  5. Write magazine articles about your local area (depending on the magazine, they might be read by a wider audience but the fact that you’ve written them will help build credibility).
  6. Use Foursquare (connected to Facebook and Twitter) to actively promote your activity in the local area. Watch this video for more information about using Foursquare to become a local expert.
  7. Tweet regularly about news that is happening in the area. Become the “on-the-ground” journalist for that area.
  8. Monitor social media for mentions of your neighborhood and comment on them.
  9. Find local blogs and become an active commenter and guest poster
  10. Use Storify to tell the story of your neighborhood. Draw in information, videos, and social content that describes your local market.
  11. Start a website about where you live. (I live in the East Kildonan area of Winnipeg so if I were a real estate professional, I would buy EastKildonan.com or something similar, and create content that told stories about that area.
  12. Start a podcast and interview locals (business owners and residents) about  the area.
  13. Start a Facebook page for your local area.
  14. Record videos of local sites and post them on your website or blog. Watch this video for more information about using video to become a local expert.
  15. Become active politically, advocating or lobbying for the area. If your area needs a new park, spearhead that effort.
  16. Walk the streets of the area you live. Wave to people mowing their lawns. Pick up the garbage.
  17. Organize a couple of events (like a street-wide garage sale or barbecue) — you don’t have to do every single street but a couple of them will make a big splash.
  18. Memorize the map: Know the streets — the active ones, the quiet ones, the one-way streets, and the shortcuts! (That’s how you can spot someone who really knows an area… if they know the shortcuts.
  19. Promote local charities.
  20. Visit local churches.
  21. Find out what fundraisers and activities there are in your area and promote them.
  22. Check out event websites (like EventBrite.com but there are several) and watch for what’s going on. See if you can participate in some way.
  23. Memorize the locations of parks and the names of restaurants and coffee shops.
  24. Offer to speak at local schools, Toastmaster groups, etc.
  25. Study the statistics — demographics, crime rates, average income, etc… and find ways to put a positive spin on these numbers if they aren’t all rosy.

Two things will happen when you adopt even some of these activities…

First, you will become the local expert of the area and people in the area will come to think of you as “their” real estate professional. They may get you to list their house and help them move elsewhere.

Second, outsiders who are looking to move into the area can’t help but bump into your name several times online and offline while researching the area. They may get you to help them buy a house in the area.

What I’m working on this week (Dec. 17 – 21)

The year is almost over and this is really the last fully work week we have in 2012.

I’m in crazy wind-up mode around here — pushing to get stuff done before the end of the year. Not all of it HAS to be done by the end of the year (and I can tell you right now that not all of it WILL get done by the end of the year) but I love starting with a blank slate, so having stuff done by the end of the year will help.

That means I’m working on stuff like…

  • Wrapping up an ecourse.
  • Wrapping up a small handful of ebooks.
  • Completing the scripts for a video series for a client who is rebuilding his sales funnel.

I’m also putting some of the pieces in place for next year — figuring out what I want to start up or what I want to keep building on. Being fully booked through 2015 have put me in an interesting position. I still believe in the importance of marketing my own brand but I can market my brand with the bigger picture in mind and position myself now for how I want to promote myself when 2016 rolls around. In other words, the marketing I am doing today isn’t about trying to find new clients today; it’s about building my business and my brand for the future. What a difference!

So I’m working on stuff like…

  • Wrapping up my sales funnel book.
  • Planning a long-term marketing campaign around the products and services I’ll be offering in 2015).
  • Putting some pieces in place to strengthen my existing brand.

I’m also spending some of my time that was formerly dedicated to marketing to build passive cash flow income streams as a way to increase my income without increasing my workload.

So I’m working on stuff like…

  • Wrapping up my sales funnel book.
  • Planning my next book.
  • Building content for my free graphite course.
  • Rebuilding a website that I was running for a while then shut down because it wasn’t performing the way I wanted it to.

And just in case you’re worried (although I know you’re not), I am aware that being fully booked through 2015 isn’t a guarantee that things will stay the same. Perhaps one of my clients decides that they don’t need my services any more. I’m good. I have several alternatives lined up that should ensure a smooth transition. I’ve always been a big proponent of contingency planning.

I might put in a few hours of work next week but this is the last big push to the end of the year. I want to make it count!

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10 ecourses a mortgage broker should write

Mortgage brokers work are always looking for people who might need a mortgage. But in my experience, people just don’t always realize the value that mortgage brokers provide. Ecourses are a way for mortgage brokers to capture more leads while also explaining their value to potential clients.

Here are 10 ecourses that a mortgage broker should write:

  1. A crash course on credit scores and what minimum scores are required for a mortgage.
  2. What steps a person can take to prepare to apply for their first mortgage.
  3. Mortgage 101: How mortgages work.
  4. How to find the best mortgage for your needs.
  5. Qualities of a good mortgage broker.
  6. (For real estate investors) Why you should make a mortgage broker part of your “power team”.
  7. Credit-repairing steps to take if you were declined for a mortgage.
  8. What to do AFTER you’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage.
  9. How to find a mortgage broker, real estate agent, and attorney to help you buy a house.
  10. Current trends in real estate.