The Five “Why’s” of Sales

It came in the middle of a Michel Fortin teleseminar on copywriting a few years ago. Fortin was interviewing the legendary direct-response writer John Carlton, and he let Carlton do most of the talking. But in passing, and without elaboration, he mentioned his philosophy on the sales process.

The most important word to your customer, said Fortin, is “Why?”. From attention to interest to desire to action, there are five “why’s” that need to be answered.

Here’s what the client wants to know:

  1. Why me?

  2. Why your product or service?

  3. Why from you instead of a competitor?

  4. Why at that price?

  5. Why now?

A few examples (elaborations are mine):

If you do home remodeling, your prospect needs to be dissatisfied with something about his or her home; decide that new windows or a remodeled kitchen will improve the situation; become convinced that you are the best one to do the job; believe that your work is worth the money you charge; and that now’s the best time to get started.

If you’re a Ford dealer, your customer must be convinced that he needs a new car or truck; that a Ford is a better choice than a GMC, Dodge or Toyota; that your store is a better place to buy than another Ford dealership; that your price is a fair one; and that now is the time to buy.

If you offer anti-aging medical services, your customer needs to decide she needs to improve her appearance; that the procedure you offer will make her look the way she wants to look; that your practice is the best place to get the procedure; that your price represents the best value; and that now is the time to get it done.

It’s not enough to tell your customer each of these things — you need to show that customer why.

Although advertising will begin the process and move it along, in most cases it won’t completely answer all of these “why’s” by itself. The rest of the process will happen when your customer calls, looks at your website, or walks into your store or office. But before your prospect pulls out wallet, credit card or checkbook, all of the “why’s” need to be answered — and answered to the customer’s satisfaction, not yours.

Make sure you know where you are in the sales process with each customer. Which “why” do you need to answer next?

Question: When you lose sales, which “why” is the one you’re most likely to have missed? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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