secret to salesWant me to buy something from you online?

Sure you do. But in your enthusiasm, I hope you don’t jump out too soon to ask for the sale. A car salesperson doesn’t expect me to sign a contract as soon as I step onto the lot. Experience has taught me not to make snap decisions, because of the times I did, and shouldn’t have.

Successful sales pro’s know how to build temptation before they ask the buyer to buy. That’s why the sequence of marketing messages is so important. Let’s consider a particular sequence that’s most likely to draw me, your web visitor, closer to a cash transaction.

1. Show you understand what I’m trying to accomplish.
2. Point out the obstacle that’s keeping me from accomplishing it.
3. Explain the type of solution I need to overcome that obstacle.
4. Introduce your product as the perfect embodiment of that type of solution.

At it’s most basic, the formula for selling has always been this: Problem > Solution. Johnny’s slide into third base leaves a big nasty grass stain on his uniform. Then, a confident mom rescues the dire situation with New Improved Tide with Dirt-Destroying Crystals. Problem > Solution.

The four-step sequence is just a more nuanced and complete approach to persuading me that I simply can’t live without your product.

1. Show you understand what I’m trying to accomplish.

But don’t do it like this: “Here at Zounders Corporation, we understand that keeping your family safe is important.” First of all, this first step should be all about me, from my point of view, not yours. Second, if you make a vague and obvious statement in your first sentence, I’ll assume the rest of your text is vague and obvious. So obviously, there’s no point in reading it.

Instead, cut right to the core: “Your family depends on you to keep them safe, and you take that role very seriously.”

Okay, what have you just done? You’ve shown that you understand what motivates me, on a deep personal level. By doing so, you’ve created a connection of sorts.

You’re also validating my circumstances and feelings, and that’s surprisingly important. What you’re not doing (at least yet) is pushing your product.

2. Point out the obstacle that’s keeping me from accomplishing it.

Continue with something like this: “Unfortunately, violent neighborhood gangs have been roaming your neighborhood, trying to recruit your children.” This of course is the ‘problem’ part, the obstacle that could keep me from accomplishing my mission as a good parent.

What’s also pretty important here is that you’re empathizing with my worrisome plight. And I guess it makes me feel a tiny bit better that someone understands, and is outraged by the same things as I am.

BTW, notice that you’re still not selling anything.

3. Explain the type of solution I need to overcome that obstacle.

No, still don’t mention your product; we’re not there quite yet. First, point out the general type of solution that would help me overcome the nasty thing that’s keeping me from fulfilling my duty.

Try this: “What you need is a deterrent that sends gangs fleeing in disgust, never again to return.”

Well, now you’ve made me curious that such a thing might exist. And curious people read further. Maybe you’ll point out that gang members are so obsessed with being cool that they physically avoid anything that might suggest that they’re uncool.

What you’re really doing in this step of the sequence is educating me, giving me the ammunition I need to make better decisions in solving my own problems. However you’re also getting me to frame my issue on your terms.

4. Introduce your product as the perfect embodiment of that type of solution.

Okay, now you can finally mention what you’re selling. You’ve already established credibility, and built up anticipation, so I’m open to what you have to say next. Which wouldn’t have been the case if you had introduced your actual offerings any earlier than this.

Last message — the big payoff: “Purchase your Barry Manilow Master CD Collection now, then point your biggest speakers out the window. After a few minutes, you’ll never see another gang member again.”

Good job — you’ve given me what I need to fulfill what’s emotionally important to me. Plus your sequence of messages gave me a logical rationale for buying. So this is the step for converting me from web visitor to paying customer.

Be flexible in adapting this message sequence to your marketing.

Of course in reality, I’m not going to wait til the bottom of your home page to find out what you’re selling. So briefly introduce your product up front, then go back and do the sequence. You can also condense things a bit by combining steps. The important thing is to keep those four dynamics in mind, one way or another: Validate, Empathize, Educate and Convert.

Also, it’s considered a website best practice to put a call-to-action button in my face as soon as I land on the home page. Heavens no, I’m not ready to click it at that point. But after I’ve come to the end of your message sequence, I’m much more primed for buying, so it’s a great idea to repeat that call-to-action.

And in case you thought using Barry Manilow music to eradicate gangs was a silly example, communities have actually used that tactic successfully. Look it up.


What specific points can be sequenced to captivate your online buyers? I can write fresh, marketing-smart messages for your home page and more. Let’s explore buyer issues, and position your brand as their perfect solution. Let’s talk.