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Sales Lead Blogs – The Art of Selling with Your Blog

Selling with blogs?

It’s not so long ago that I might have gotten myself lynched for merely suggesting such a distasteful thing.

Slowly though the blogosphere is coming around to the idea that commerce is not necessarily evil, that in fact businesses need to make money and that they do that by selling stuff.

Blogs are actually well-suited to generating sales leads.

Look at the AIDA formula

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

Without even resorting to pressure sales tactics you can easily see how blogs with the right content can tick off the first three almost casually. The last, “action”, can be trickier but as you will see, the solution is common sense.

So how do you create Attention, Interest and Desire with a blog?

Collectively you can call this creating attraction. Already in this business and indirect profit blogging series we have covered that blogs are ideal for generating attraction.

Blogs gather you a targeted audience, then drip-drip-drip the necessary benefit-lead, fact-filled, objection-busting content to your prospects – without feeling like they are being sold to.

Think about it, how do you like to be “sold”, would you rather have an in-your-face pressure sales presentation, or would you like to take information in on your own terms and schedule?

With your blog you can sell with information. Present the ideas, proof, testimonials and case studies. Your prospects warm to the idea, then you show them where they can go to find out more and buy.

So we get to Action

Nothing happens until your prospect takes action. You can’t wait for them to work it out for themselves but on the other hand ask for too much too soon and you blow it. Get them ready then offer them the opportunity to take action. Keep offering the opportunity, wherever it is relevant.

It’s no good having lots of great persuasive content without giving the prospect a way to buy in. You must have action links and buttons. Help them do what you want them to do.

My personal approach is a series of small agreements.

  1. Click through to blog
  2. Read content
  3. Subscribe to blog
  4. Sign up to email newsletter/course
  5. Free sample
  6. Low cost product
  7. Higher cost product
  8. Big-assed profit rocket ;)
  9. Retire

You get the idea :)

Too many people try to go from (1) to (8) without the intermediate steps.

It’s like walking into a bar and asking the first likely candidate for your, um, affections, to go back to your place for … coffee … before you have even introduced yourself or bought them a drink.

So you have to woo your prospect. Give a little, show you are trustworthy and your stuff is good. Get them to believe your promises and reward that trust. Each step reinforces the relationship and desire builds.

Trust and belief are critical

Your prospects have to believe. How can you convince people that don’t know you to believe what you say? Well you can’t get 100% belief, and it would be foolish to try to get someone to take your word on everything from the first second of meeting you.

What you can do though is be genuine, approachable, open and most of all listen. Empathise. Provide as much proof and evidence as it takes to sway them enough to give you their first chance. Once they are pleased, and continue to be pleased the barriers come down little by little. Delight them early on, and keep positively surprising them.

Small things mean a lot

Part of customer service is solving problems, big ones, small ones, free or expensive, it doesn’t matter. Give without expectation of reward and the reciprocation effect comes into play. People want to return the favour. So give first. Small things initially, leading to bigger things.

Most people reading this will know I am a geek. Many geeks like science fiction, comics, that kind of thing. I have a favourite comic-book-guy. Why is he my favourite?

I often end up buying something from him but he never sells to me. Not once has he ever gone into a sales pitch.

He is a fan himself, not a salesman. The love of his stuff just oozes out of him and he really knows his stuff. When he doesn’t know an answer he will find out for you. If he won the lottery he would still be there the next morning, and the next. When he talks about Daleks, Spiderman, Battlestar Galactica, it is as a fan. He doesn’t jump on you as soon as you walk in and when you ask for help won’t hesitate to recommend an alternative, lower-priced item if he thinks it would be a better purchase. There is never any hassle with returns, in fact he is mortified when there is the slightest problem and moves heaven and earth to make you happy. He tells stories, makes jokes, gives you snippets of news and gossip. Geeks flock there from miles around even though his prices are often higher and he holds less stock than some of the bigger chains. His assistants are all just like him, in fact some are even more so – they hang out there on their days off, helping people when they are not even getting paid. It’s more like a social club than a shop.

Reading that over, think how you can translate this into your blog

  1. Genuine passion for the topic
  2. Expertise, credibility, authority
  3. Honest recommendations that really work
  4. Welcoming, helpful, rewarding information, given freely
  5. Customer evangelists, social proof, reduced barriers and risk

But … Blogs are all about “free” … right?

True, blogs are all about giving free information. Bridging the gap between free and paid is often an intimidating challenge. Don’t think of it as a difference between $0 and $N, consider it more as a challenge to show value and more value.

I give away an ebook, I write articles and don’t charge for them. People ask me questions, I answer their questions. If everything I did was free then I would soon be broke. Still I get training, coaching, consultancy and writing work. Even though I am doing one thing very wrong. I will leave that as a little pop-quiz to see if you have been taking notice ;)

The Power of Cliff-Hangers

You know the score, in books, films and tv, right at the end the hero gets into a climactic scrape and you wonder how the hero will solve the problem this time. Cliff-hangers sell the next episode, next book, film sequel.

It’s the same with selling with blogs. Don’t give it all away, hold back some stuff that needs paying for. Hint at the solution, and talk about how your solution worked well in the past. If your prospects think it is worth paying for (and it is your job to convince them) then they will pay gladly. In fact they will ask you how to pay and if you would be willing to sell it to them!

If you are selling software/gadgets/widgets you can talk about what it does, how it compares to alternatives, provide case studies of other users with before and after, interviews with happy customers, give tips on modifications and clever ways people are using it that you never anticipated. If your prospect has been unaware of your solution, or sitting on the fence about taking the plunge, this will either provide all the evidence they need or give them an idea that they can’t execute without purchasing.

“Wow, I hadn’t thought of that, instead of getting a DVR and DVD player I could just get a Mac Mini then I would also be able to play my music and show off my cat pictures with front row … and I see they are on offer … and my birthday is coming up soon”.

You are not actively “selling” or overtly persuading, they are convincing their own minds through the evidence and ideas you are presenting.

Call to actions that get clicks

A call to action could be as simple as “for more information …” but you will find that you need to work a little harder to get a better result.

What do you want the prospect to do. Why should they do it? Is there any way you can strengthen the compulsion to take action?

  • Benefits
  • Urgency
  • Clarity

How about for getting signups to your free webinar (where you will educate then pitch) “limited seats available … enter your email address in the form below now to reserve your free place … “. They are promised a free and valuable offer in return for taking action right now.

Summary

I hope you can see where blogs can fit into your sales process. With a blog you can build a terrific amount of awareness, attention and desire. Blogs are perfect for attraction.

Once you have your prospects warmed up you can send them to your sales site for final conversion. Yes, I said website. In the next part I will cover where blogs fit into an overall web strategy!

Bottom line, use your blog to build desire effectively and you will find you are generating hot leads faster than ever before, without resorting to strong-arm pressure sales tactics. Better for you and your customers I am sure you will agree.

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Comments

  1. Great tips Chris, but where’s YOUR call to action?

  2. Great tips Chris, but where’s YOUR call to action?

  3. Aah, you spotted it – and so fast, winner of the pop-quiz :)

    I will try and work out a prize for you …

  4. Aah, you spotted it – and so fast, winner of the pop-quiz :)

    I will try and work out a prize for you …

  5. lol Chris, That was the longest post and very impressive i read on your blog.

    True need to focus what you are and where you want to sell. Thats what matters. You cant sell everything on blog. Stick to what you can do best, master it and then sell it.

    having proof with every post is really important. I had seen news on google where posts are without any proof of the news they make. Many times i see its a complete copy paste. I wonder how google doesnt find it.

  6. lol Chris, That was the longest post and very impressive i read on your blog.

    True need to focus what you are and where you want to sell. Thats what matters. You cant sell everything on blog. Stick to what you can do best, master it and then sell it.

    having proof with every post is really important. I had seen news on google where posts are without any proof of the news they make. Many times i see its a complete copy paste. I wonder how google doesnt find it.

  7. So who made the rules? You know what? They said that you couldn’t sell on forums. Welll…guess what? People sell on forums. And some dope on some blog came up with rules that you can’t sell on blogs. And well, many dopes followed.

    The point is: When you start up a blog, you’re selling.

    You’re selling your ideas.
    Your point of view.
    And hey, if you’ve got product/services that help the customer–and you hope that the customer is going to figure it out, then only one thing is going to happen. The customer will read your blog, but buy from someone that indeed sells.

    Sean
    http://www.psychotactics.com

  8. So who made the rules? You know what? They said that you couldn’t sell on forums. Welll…guess what? People sell on forums. And some dope on some blog came up with rules that you can’t sell on blogs. And well, many dopes followed.

    The point is: When you start up a blog, you’re selling.

    You’re selling your ideas.
    Your point of view.
    And hey, if you’ve got product/services that help the customer–and you hope that the customer is going to figure it out, then only one thing is going to happen. The customer will read your blog, but buy from someone that indeed sells.

    Sean
    http://www.psychotactics.com

  9. @Ashish – believe me I could have kept on writing, perhaps there is an ebook there waiting to get out? :)

    @Sean – yup whenever someone says “you can’t” or “this is just how it is” or “must/ought/should” there will always be someone else who goes against the popular “wisdom” and profits from it. :)

  10. @Ashish – believe me I could have kept on writing, perhaps there is an ebook there waiting to get out? :)

    @Sean – yup whenever someone says “you can’t” or “this is just how it is” or “must/ought/should” there will always be someone else who goes against the popular “wisdom” and profits from it. :)

  11. If people don’t want to buy what you’re selling, and find that you spend more time selling than informing or entertaining, they’ll quit reading the blog. So if the selling doesn’t bother, it will stay. The “market will tell”.

  12. If people don’t want to buy what you’re selling, and find that you spend more time selling than informing or entertaining, they’ll quit reading the blog. So if the selling doesn’t bother, it will stay. The “market will tell”.

  13. Selling is convincing. Blogs can become great sales tools. Your regular visitors are prospective loyal buyers. You already have a kind of bonding with your visitors and they are more likely to be convinced to buy from you – your product or service or the product or service you recommend. But most of the loyal buyers are very much delicate to handle, they may get hurt so quickly if you push or directly sell to them.

  14. Selling is convincing. Blogs can become great sales tools. Your regular visitors are prospective loyal buyers. You already have a kind of bonding with your visitors and they are more likely to be convinced to buy from you – your product or service or the product or service you recommend. But most of the loyal buyers are very much delicate to handle, they may get hurt so quickly if you push or directly sell to them.

  15. Well, no one said you should become a spammer. But if all a blog does is talk, then it’s yakkity yak–and others yakkity yakking along. It may make better sense to simply close down the blog.

    But then again, it may appeal to your sense of vanity. You may indeed believe that people are so eager to hear what you say. And they might be. The point is still relevant. If you tell, you don’t necessarily sell. You have to sell, to sell.

    How much you sell; where and when you sell; those are just logistics.

    Sean
    http://www.psychotactics.com

  16. Well, no one said you should become a spammer. But if all a blog does is talk, then it’s yakkity yak–and others yakkity yakking along. It may make better sense to simply close down the blog.

    But then again, it may appeal to your sense of vanity. You may indeed believe that people are so eager to hear what you say. And they might be. The point is still relevant. If you tell, you don’t necessarily sell. You have to sell, to sell.

    How much you sell; where and when you sell; those are just logistics.

    Sean
    http://www.psychotactics.com

  17. And just for the record, when we first started out on the Internet in 2001, we had a website with great content for a good year or more. How do we know it was great content? Because we had thousands of subscribers who signed up for the newsletter, even though the only incentive was the newsletter itself (which it is, to this day).

    The point was, our community grew only once we sold. Once we started selling our first product called the ‘Brain Audit’—that was the first time we started getting a real response. That’s when we started getting evangelists. Even today at the Psychotactics site, we give away loads of product on website conversion, and other stuff. It all helps to create a factor of trust. But you don’t get raving fans and you don’t get community. And you certainly don’t get a cent in el banco.

    If you really want a relationship factor involved with clients. If you real want to separate the yak from the customers, you’ve got to sell.

    Talk is cheap.

    Sean
    http://www.psychotactics.com

  18. And just for the record, when we first started out on the Internet in 2001, we had a website with great content for a good year or more. How do we know it was great content? Because we had thousands of subscribers who signed up for the newsletter, even though the only incentive was the newsletter itself (which it is, to this day).

    The point was, our community grew only once we sold. Once we started selling our first product called the ‘Brain Audit’—that was the first time we started getting a real response. That’s when we started getting evangelists. Even today at the Psychotactics site, we give away loads of product on website conversion, and other stuff. It all helps to create a factor of trust. But you don’t get raving fans and you don’t get community. And you certainly don’t get a cent in el banco.

    If you really want a relationship factor involved with clients. If you real want to separate the yak from the customers, you’ve got to sell.

    Talk is cheap.

    Sean
    http://www.psychotactics.com

  19. Yes one of my biggest lightbulb moments was when I discovered you have to sell even free stuff.

  20. Yes one of my biggest lightbulb moments was when I discovered you have to sell even free stuff.

  21. Yup, that was the teleclass I did in April. And see, you’d be raving about that a little more, if you had to pay for it ;)

  22. Yup, that was the teleclass I did in April. And see, you’d be raving about that a little more, if you had to pay for it ;)

  23. Ha, no I had come to the realization via a much more painful and expensive route :)

  24. Ha, no I had come to the realization via a much more painful and expensive route :)

  25. It’s actually amazing how hard it sometimes is to give away something of quality for free, because people become suspicious. At least in offline life. Online, however, there’ll always be an audience for free information.

    So my planned sales funnel is to continue offering free advice on my blog, then add free teaser e-books, and if the response is good,then a few paid e-books. If you’ve established trust in your writing, you can eventually monetize your blog indirectly (without ever running an ad). Or so the theory goes :) I’m going to test it.

  26. It’s actually amazing how hard it sometimes is to give away something of quality for free, because people become suspicious. At least in offline life. Online, however, there’ll always be an audience for free information.

    So my planned sales funnel is to continue offering free advice on my blog, then add free teaser e-books, and if the response is good,then a few paid e-books. If you’ve established trust in your writing, you can eventually monetize your blog indirectly (without ever running an ad). Or so the theory goes :) I’m going to test it.

  27. Chris, I thought you said that your readers weren’t that interested in selling issues? (of course I was begging for links at the time 8-). I’ve been reading your feed for several months, and I think that this might be one of your best posts, especially for those out there wondering what they are doing and what they should do next. I will be posting a free e-book on my blog soon, and I promise to give you a heads up. Thanks for your great work! xoxoxo johnonsales

  28. Chris, I thought you said that your readers weren’t that interested in selling issues? (of course I was begging for links at the time 8-). I’ve been reading your feed for several months, and I think that this might be one of your best posts, especially for those out there wondering what they are doing and what they should do next. I will be posting a free e-book on my blog soon, and I promise to give you a heads up. Thanks for your great work! xoxoxo johnonsales

  29. @Raj – I look forward to seeing what you come up with :)

    @John – I think more likely I said “not yet ready” and “I am trying to bring people along” or words to that effect ;)

  30. @Raj – I look forward to seeing what you come up with :)

    @John – I think more likely I said “not yet ready” and “I am trying to bring people along” or words to that effect ;)

  31. I was late getting around to reading this one; it’s now Sunday, but it was worth it.

    You hit the nail of the head when you say, “Genuine passion for the topic” — in my book, that’s the key ingredient.

    Far too often people start blogs or websites simply for the monetary gain. They grab a template, toss up some Google Absence or some Amazon affiliate stuff and get right to work trying to make a buck. It’s so easily spotted through the writing that they really aren’t passionate about the topic.

  32. I was late getting around to reading this one; it’s now Sunday, but it was worth it.

    You hit the nail of the head when you say, “Genuine passion for the topic” — in my book, that’s the key ingredient.

    Far too often people start blogs or websites simply for the monetary gain. They grab a template, toss up some Google Absence or some Amazon affiliate stuff and get right to work trying to make a buck. It’s so easily spotted through the writing that they really aren’t passionate about the topic.

  33. Yes but we should be glad of the people blogging half-heartedly – they make the rest of us look *good* :) I had the pleasure of listening to the photographic lighting wisdom of David Hobby (of http://strobist.com fame) today. Now that is a man who has genuine passion, and the expertise to back it up. When you find it there is no mistaking it and even the best actors can’t fake it.

  34. Yes but we should be glad of the people blogging half-heartedly – they make the rest of us look *good* :) I had the pleasure of listening to the photographic lighting wisdom of David Hobby (of http://strobist.com fame) today. Now that is a man who has genuine passion, and the expertise to back it up. When you find it there is no mistaking it and even the best actors can’t fake it.

  35. Hey Chris -

    One of the lovely things about selling through a blog is that you can provide exceptional support for consumption in (virtually) real time. Customers can post a question, ask for help, or register a bug easily, and other customers don’t have to wait for your updated FAQ to benefit from the information.

    It also provides a forum for community members to find out about new uses for existing products, tricks and techniques, etc.

    In this sense, selling through your blog is a customer service.

  36. Hey Chris -

    One of the lovely things about selling through a blog is that you can provide exceptional support for consumption in (virtually) real time. Customers can post a question, ask for help, or register a bug easily, and other customers don’t have to wait for your updated FAQ to benefit from the information.

    It also provides a forum for community members to find out about new uses for existing products, tricks and techniques, etc.

    In this sense, selling through your blog is a customer service.

  37. Yeah blogs can be good for customer service, for example saving people emailing or calling support for downtime updates etc

  38. Yeah blogs can be good for customer service, for example saving people emailing or calling support for downtime updates etc