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How do you sell a salesman?



3:20 pm on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Based on this thread [webmasterworld.com] I actually realized that this is what I'm trying to do. My target market are all salespeople. They have all been "Carnegie-ized" and "zigged" out and, if anything like me, respond to marketing copy with the enthusiasm of a tortoise.

I will be using three techniques for certain: candid honesty, "features and benefits" and "educating terminology".

What would be a good way to present the information?

...how do you sell a salesman?


4:29 pm on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rcjordan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Good question, BH. All salesman like to think that they know everything about their craft, i.e., the "I can sell ice to Eskimos" syndrome. They also tend to poke fun at the used car salesman type. (He's all plaid jacket and white bucks.) I'd play those angles along with the candid honesty, features and benefits and educating terminology you mentioned. One very important bullet under "terminology" should be industry-specific buzzwords and acronyms.


5:12 pm on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

The hardest thing for me to learn, and the most productive for ad copy - get in the surfer's shoes.

Think, what would I be thinking about/looking for had I found my site as a visitor? Give them what they are looking for as quickly as possible. It will probably be features and benefits. Lay down the deal, while being concise.

Since you're dealing with salespeople that are somewhat immune to marketing copy, I would stay away from fluffy, buzz-like words, unless extremely appropriate. Explain what you have to offer quickly in plain English.

Site visitors have a very limited attention-span, give them the details without making them dig. The promotion page that the above linked thread was about is way too wordy, way too much information, IMO.

Evaluating the surfer's perspective can be quite rewarding. We often get locked up in the "this is what I want the surfer to do" mentality, when we should be saying "what would the surfer do on this page, and what can I change to make them do what I want."

Think in terms of being the salesman that just found your site, immune to hype, and looking for something. How would you react to your site in those shoes.


5:26 pm on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

>>>>>Lay down the deal, while being concise.

How concise? I have a lot of info to share but I don't want to do it all up front.

What do you think about bulleted lists laying out the features and benefits followed by a clincher followed by the closing statement all inside of say 400px wide by 900 px long?

>>>>He's all plaid jacket and white bucks.

heehee...I can't afford to alienate the older crowd rc ;)


5:45 pm on Mar 26, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rcjordan is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>I have a lot of info to share but I don't want to do it all up front.

I wouldn't do it all upfront. I'd write the pages in pyramid style;

headline > the best info > detailed info

IMO, the headline should be the benefit, the next page should be the best features and an explanation of how it produces the benefit, and the detailed info should bat clean-up.

>>>>He's all plaid jacket and white bucks.

If possible, your copy should somehow imply that your product or service isn't for the plaid jacket and white bucks type, but for the professional salesman that wants blah-blah-blah, yada-yada-yada.


9:09 am on Apr 1, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member marcia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

This is a very interesting discussion to me. I've had a number of years experience in sales, and to be honest, can't transfer the skills to the web at all.

I attribute this to the fact that most of my selling and closing was done during the "qualification" phase of the sales process. During that phase, if it is properly done, a sales prospect will often himself/herself tell you almost exactly what it will take to close the sale. More often than not this is the case.

If the ability to do this can be translated into happening on a web site, I just haven't found the way yet.


4:02 pm on Apr 2, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>a sales prospect will often himself/herself tell you almost exactly...

I know what you mean. Dealing with customers face-to-face was always comfortable for me - I could usually find out what it would take to "close the deal" just by conversation and body language. People generally broadcast (without realizing it) what is going on inside their head.

The web world is a much different one, where you can't tailor your "pitch" to individual customers, changing your tone and points accordingly. You have to publish your pitch one way, one format, one delivery per site - for many, many different customers.

This is why I think it is so important to indentify your user demographics - find out what most of your visitors are like, and tailor to that demographic. IMO, it can be much harder than face-to-face tailoring, but when done properly, can produce very good results.

I think the key is focus on demographics, and tailor to them the best you can. Evaluate and hone your tailoring over and over until it is highly polished.

With Boneheadicus' situation, he has the demographic pretty well nailed down. He just needs to get his tailoring tools out and put them to work. Some things like "how concise?" can only be learned by trial and error, and by going by gut feel.

That's my take, anyway.


1:33 pm on Apr 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You have to realize that the only "sales wannabes" that will be interested in your product will be just that. The long winding road to sales professional is littered with folks who thought they were sales people. Most sales profesionals don't buy books, seminars or "how to" material, they are already established and profitable and would probably not be interested in any "how to sell" type material. That being said, you should now have a better idea of who your target market is and you can craft accordingly.

BTW, most sales professionals live off of one truth, that is "buyers are liars", you just have to find out what they are being evasive about and why. Saves lots of time!

When was the last time you were honest with a sales person?


10:15 pm on Apr 7, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I think I'm honest with salespeople all the time. It's the bloody salespeople who are the liars. How can you tell when a saleman is lying? His lips are moving.

I was told this story last night. A friend's child wanted some rollerblades of a particular brand and style. Went to the store. Salesman told this 8 year old that they didn't come in his size. Eight year old pulled out the manufacturers booklet and very loudly showed that they did so, as other customers looked on. That was one embarrassed salesman who didn't make a sale.


1:22 am on Apr 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member woz is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>It's the bloody salespeople who are the liars.

Lets not generalise too much here. There are sales people who lie, and there are sales people who don't.

Just the same as there are SEOers who spam, and there are SEOers who don't. But to label all SEOers as spammers would I am sure get the fora members *pretty hopping mad*.

I sometimes work in the Sales area, and pride myself in telling my prospects the truth. And yet I have worked with sales people who have lied to their clients more often than not.

It is indeed unfortunate that certain professions seem to be branded without the benifit of redress. Lets just give the general "sales people" force the benifit of the doubt shall we?.



12:36 pm on Apr 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Yes, but in proportion, I think salepeople will lie much more often than buyers. Buyers frequently don't have a reason to lie. They want what they are looking for. The saleperson does though. The salesperson in the example I gave felt that he could sell something he had in stock to this little kid and get his commission. He figured the kid wouldn't know that he was lying. Turned out he was wrong. Lesson to be learned, don't assume that your customer is ignorant.

A slightly different humorous story: I once went with my girlfriend to a used car lot. She was looking for a car. The used car salesman was amazingly prototypical. Wouldn't talk to her at all. Kept talking to me, because as all used car salepersons know the men make the decisions about buying a car. I wasn't interested in a car. My girlfriend would ask a question and he'd address the answer to me. After about ten minutes of talking to me as we walked around the lot, and me not saying a word, it finally dawned on him that I might not have anything to do with the purchase other than being present. By that time he had lost any chance of a sale. We laughed for an hour afterward. Lesson to be learned, figure out who your customer is.

Another story: Saleperson walks into a hardware store. Sees an 18 year old kid lounging around. Asks, "Are you the owner?" Turns out the kid was. Had inherited the store. Instant sale. Lesson to be learned: treat your customer with respect, even if you aren't sure if he's a customer.



7:35 pm on Apr 8, 2001 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Excellent observations and really just point to who the "how to sell" material should be marketed to. Since the rollerblade guy and the used car sales guy (that market is really flooded with sales wannabes) are not yet successful, they are prime candidates for the whole "how to really sell things!" market.

Good luck, I'm done with this thread, I still stand by what I said, "buyers are liars", they usually just don't know it and NEVER admit it.


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