How to Sell Without Pitching

No one likes to be sold, especially today's consumer. With marketing messages everywhere you turn, the 'sales pitch' tends to join the rest of the 'white noise'. So how do you increase sales without pitching your product? There are ways that smart marketers are using today that's giving them results they've never seen before. Let's look at three of the best ones:

Behavioural Targeting

About a quarter of online marketers use behavioural targeting. There are a few ways to approach it.:

You can segment your customers and prospects into categories like - most loyal, most profitable, and those about to buy. If one customer never fails to renew their order or top up their supply, then you target that customer with special deals only for premium customers, first-to-know insider tips and the like. The profitable customers may be more open to cross-selling and value-add offers. The ones that nearly bought, might just need a nudge like a discount or other incentive.:

Use your web analytics click-stream data to predict visitor interests and purchase intentions. The data shows which pages were visited, how long a time spent on each page, and which ads were clicked. One marketer I know runs a coffee website. At first he thought he was catering only to connoisseurs but his data showed that many more novices were visiting his site and seemed to want to know how to make the best cup of coffee. So he changed his content slightly to meet them in the middle. In fact his home page addresses both types of customer simultaneously. Not only does he see a higher CTR but his sales have increased 30%.:

You can use time zone differences to send emails at a particular time of day or seasonal times of the year. For example if you sell chocolates market heavily around Valentine's Day and Mothers Day - not just Easter. Obvious, but a good example.

Permission Marketing

This was coined by Seth Godin, a well-respected online marketer. It's the antithesis of "interruption marketing" which prevailed in the mass media days. It's still used in TV and radio, though.

Permission marketing is getting permission from your prospect before advancing to the next step in the selling process. For example you may have a list but instead of blasting them with your product lines you might ask if they'd like to receive info on a particular line of products?

It's great for one-to-one marketing when you are dealing with premium customers or your niche is very specialised and there's some competition.

You can use incentives to ask customers to be involved in your marketing. Say they bought one of your products in the past but haven't bought anything recently. Send them an email asking if they would mind filling in a survey to help you better understand their needs. In return you'll give them a 20% discount on their order if it exceeds $20, or, you can give them a voucher for $20.

Survey questions should ask what are their current and short-term future needs. For example, you may ask the question "What do you need most right now?" followed by "Do you want to know about offers or news about this need?" So you not only have their permission but you know exactly what they are receptive to.

But don't leverage that permission by resorting to cross-selling and up-selling. Market to them only as far as they've given you permission. As Godin says, it's about "turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers".

Finally, a not so new technique and that is -


The best way to describe this little beauty is by example. All advertisers know about product positioning. It has two aspects - presenting your product in the way you want it to be perceived, and, how your sales message makes the prospect feel about himself.

I'll use a classic example of a direct mail campaign for a series of audio cassettes to learn the English language. The famous headline said "Do You Make These Mistakes in English?". Well at first they ran with the headline "Do you Make Mistakes in English?". Yes the difference is only one word - but what a powerful difference.

Try it on for size. How do you feel when I ask you:

a) Do You Make These Mistakes in English? OR

b) Do You Make Mistakes in English?

Notice that a) is more specific. It asks you if you make particular mistakes. Your curiosity is aroused. What if "these" mistakes are the same ones I keep making? I have to know. It doesn't make me feel dumb but is actually sounding helpful.

Whereas b) is more confronting, even accusing. I feel more defensive when I read it. I feel self-conscious but not in a constructive way. You can imagine which headline out-performed the other and why.

So you see the tougher marketing climate of today can make things far more interesting. Without the blind pitch you can apply psychology and strategy to your marketing. You can enjoy the satisfaction of learning about your customer's needs so your interaction with them is not so faceless. Long term, it can only increase your sales.

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   Matilda Reich
   Online Marketing Consultant & Copywriter
   Infodesign Copywriting

© 2010 Matilda Reich Infodesign Copywriting™