10 Ways To Improve Your Sales Writing Without Being Sleazy
The minute you add the word “sales” in front of anything, it makes most people think “eww” and sends a shiver down your spine –
I know exactly what that feels like.
And, unless you’re a money mindset coach (and even then, most will admit their own financial foibles), writing sales copy can make you feel like you’re surrounded by saguaro cacti *ouch*.
What most copywriters won’t tell you is: we feel weird about writing our own sales copy too! But we spend most of our time writing other people’s copy. Not only is it easier to sell on behalf of someone else, we love to big-up our clients – in business, as in life, cheerleading for others is so much easier because there’s no Inner Critic to deal with.
We small business owners and solopreneurs have to write a lot of our own content. It’s hard to keep putting ourselves out there, especially when it comes to selling. But it doesn’t have to be so tricky (or prickly).
Here’s my list of 10 things you can do to make your sales writing sound more natural and not feel like you’re rolling in cacti to get it done. Get ready for a new process and a mix of mindset, strategy, and action. (FYI, “copy” means any kind of written content, hence “copywriters” are writers who help businesses, as opposed to non-fiction authors and novelists.)
Afraid of sounding like a sleaz-ball in your sales copy? Try implementing these ten tips!
So, what counts as sales writing?
In my opinion, sales writing covers much more than simply the point of sale. First, you have your traditional and typical selling spaces, such as:
- Sales pages
- Sales Emails
- “Buy” buttons
- Product descriptions
As far as I’m concerned, sales writing also includes your:
- Web copy – many of the pages on your website are pitch your brand, product &/or services.
- Headlines – action-oriented headings are a vital part of sales copy
- Non-sales email marketing, such as:
- Subject lines
- Pre-pitch and non-pitch emails
- Freebie sequences/autoresponders
- Lead magnets – yes, what you’re offering is free, but you’re still pitching for their email address and permission to sell to them further down the line.
- Freebie landing pages
- CTAs – Calls-To-Action, like “Subscribe” or click-through text.
How to write authentic and compelling, sleaze-free content
There are lots of measures you can take to remove every ounce of potential sleaze from your words and still retain powerful sales messages which are true to your brand. You can apply the points in this list to the clear majority of writing you work on; however, I’ll give you an actionable example related to sales writing under each point.
1 | Realize how your dream customers see you
First up, some mindset to help you get into a different zone and ready to sell. Throughout this process, I know you’re going to second-guess yourself, but rather than think “I need to sell to XYZ without sounding pushy,” try and understand your customer’s perspective. If you imagine your customer journey as a story – the narrative you build together – they are the hero of the story, and you are the guide. You’re a helpful force, a mentor or leader who helps your customers navigate their journey with you and your business.
That means they’re looking to you for guidance and help to solve their problems.
Actionable: List the ways you (or a particular product/service) can guide your customer from their problem through to your solution – how does that story play out? What’s your role in their hero’s quest? What things (handouts, experiences, activities, etc.) do you give them? These are the tangible features of your product/service.
You can’t sell if you don’t know who you’re selling to.
2 | Find the true essence of your ideal clients
You can’t sell if you don’t know who you’re selling to. First, I want you to tear up the rulebook on buyer personas (aka client avatars/profiles) – stay with me… Personas are too restrictive and one dimensional. They take up too much time and are based more on fiction that fact. If you don’t know what a buyer persona is, even better!
Second, make sure you have clarity on the core purpose of your business – things like your values, ethos, “big why,” mission and the impact you want to have on people.
Third, pinpoint your unique value proposition (UVP, aka unique selling proposition/USP). Your UVP could be your technique/process, a product, invention or inventive way of doing what you do. It’s what makes your offerings different from your competitors.
Actionable: Finally, identify the commonalities of your ideal clients. You have more than one dream client – people with different jobs, hobbies or tastes. But they all share a common ground, things that pull you together. Write down their shared:
- Values, philosophies, and outlook on life
- Certain pains, problems, frustrations, fears
- Desired outcomes not yet achieved
- Any extra non-negotiable specifics, e.g., you only work with fashion bloggers/mothers, etc.
3 | Whereabouts are your ideal clients on their sales journey?
There are numerous touch points where potential customers interact with your business. Your wider audience can include “cold” community members who’ve just discovered you on Instagram, to “warm” leads who’ve come close to making their first purchase, to “sizzling hot” fans who recommend you to their friends and buy almost everything you release.
Actionable: List the ways your audience members are different – where they originate from, their brand-awareness, how problem and solution aware they are, etc. Write down how you can target their different needs, as well as their similar ones.
4 | Infuse your writing with your authentic personality
Phew! Now you’re ready to start writing. Quieten your Inner Critic because I want you to know: you are unique. You’re distinctive – there is not a single other person on the planet like you, and I (your ideal client) want to hear the real you.
It’s time to drop the mask. Don’t try to be the someone you think your audience wants to hear, just be yourself.
Actionable: To write in your natural tone of voice, write as you speak. Unless you’re producing a corporate case study or a (non-emotional, pure-facts) press release, please bring your authentic self into every word you write.
5 | Validate and forge deeper connections
We search out people who understand us – we’re all seeking something – support, friendship, acceptance, compassion…
Demonstrating empathy for your dream clients will help you connect on a deeper level and inject authentic and compelling storytelling into your sales copy. Purchases are made on an emotional level, so it’s vital that you bring emotion into your writing.
Actionable: How can you validate the way your ideal customer is feeling? Listen to your networks, interactions, and feedback. Keep a note of phrases that repeat themselves in your testimonials and that potential customers use when they’re seeking help with the kinds of problems you solve. Make use of these phrases in your sales writing and quote your testimonials too (they contain brilliant social proof).
Demonstrating empathy for your dream clients will help you connect on a deeper level and inject authentic and compelling storytelling into your sales copy.
6 | What is the real goal of your sales copy? (especially important for headlines)
Different pieces of copy have their own job to do. A subject line must encourage opens, a headline to click-through or read more, press subscribe or share, and so on. But there is really only one purpose for your sales copy: to compel action. Spark the curiosity of your ideal clients and keep them captivated by using headlines and subheadings which compel action by offering the promise of something more. Irresistible headlines are:
- Emotive – strong, emotional, passionate language
- Compelling – need-to-know, fascinating, creates anticipation
- Useful – helpful, deals with a pain point
- Specific – distinguishing ultra-relevant words/phrase
- Accurate – makes sense, factual, tangible, clear & on-brand
- Intriguing – mix & match 2 – 3 the following “Curiosity Sparks” to catch your ideal client’s attention:
- Caution (teamed with a positive)
Here are some examples of different headlines I’ve written for clients:
- Transform your sputtering web traffic into a client-attracting, cash-generating machine
- Finally, the get-fit program where you NEVER have to weigh yourself again
- Live the life of a professional musician - an immersive and transformational experience like no other
- You know first impressions matter – let’s create eye-catching visuals which make your ideal clients stop in their tracks
- Write outstanding headlines faster with this indispensable list
- 7 best places to find + convert subscribers on your blog
You can see the different Curiosity Sparks I’ve combined and that I don’t give away the full solution, to compel the action of wanting to find out more.
Actionable: Try matching a precise pain-point with a much-desired, transformative &/or superlative outcome. You can find 507 words for creating magnetic, emotional & authentic headlines on my blog.
7 | Use specific details to storify your writing
Specificity (the quality, condition or state of being specific) helps your audience suspend everything else they’re doing and pay attention to YOU. Think of it like making the story your own or setting the scene, for example, your walk in the park is different from everyone else’s walk in that same park at the same time of day – what they’re wearing, the way they act, who they’re with, what they notice.
Landing page headline for gluten-free bakery’s email list:
10 tasty gluten-free cupcake recipes – yours free
Storified: Cupcakes without the bellyache? Yes please! Whip up 10 tasty (+ simple) gluten-free cupcake recipes – all yours for $0
Actionable: In your writing, use a couple of your five senses – touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. How else can you storify your writing with specific details?
8 | Make your CTAs stand out
You can make your Calls-To-Action more interesting by explaining the action in more detail, such as what they’ll get for subscribing or buying.
Actionable: You’re banned from saying “Subscribe,” “Sign up,” “Buy Now”! Reduce fear of the unknown and clarify exactly what they’re getting (e.g., Yes – Give me the free recipes; Unlock the Vault).
For a purchase button, invoke their “Future Self” – the aspirational, happy ever after, how their life will improve, for example, yes – Book me in; Enroll now; YES – I’m ready to [result]!.
You can make your Calls-To-Action more interesting by explaining the action in more detail, such as what they’ll get for subscribing or buying.
9 | Communicate the physical & emotional results
As I’ve mentioned, emotion is an integral part of good sales copy. When working on longer content, like a sales page or sales email sequence, you can go into more detail about the features and benefits of your product/service. It’s important to understand that the features are the concrete things your customer receives, whether that’s a unisex onesie or a coaching mastermind, any handouts/sessions/vouchers/etc.
Benefits, on the other hand, are the emotional and physical results – how the experience makes them feel, including any physical “symptoms” or changes in circumstance.
Actionable: List all the features of the offering you’re writing sales copy for, then list every emotional and physical result you can think of. Incorporate the most powerful/important ones into your content.
10 | Give them only one option
This might feel a bit harsh, but this a tried and tested rule. In certain places, like on your blog, business card and general newsletter, having sidebars, footers, social media links, etc. works well. But in sales copy, including pre-pitch content (like a lead magnet landing page and associated email sequence/autoresponder), you should give just one option, so they subscribe vs. don’t subscribe, buy vs. don’t buy.
You’re not squandering traffic; you’re qualifying your ideal clients for that particular offering and making their choice easier.
Actionable: Make a checklist for your sales copy which includes, for example, removing social media links, headers, footers and so on.
Bonus 1 | Is your sales copy delivering?
Rather than focusing on conversions and statistics, make sure you’re prioritizing the person behind the number. If you want to make sure your copy is a place of purpose, heart, and value, you need to know: it’s not about you.
Actionable: Keep asking yourself this question, especially for sales writing: “What’s in it for them?” How are you communicating the value for your ideal client, from their point of view?
Bonus 2 | Discover what works for your business
At the end of the day, you must experiment. What works for one company, even your competitor or market leader, may not work quite the same way for your business.
Actionable: Test, test, test until you find out what works. A/B testing is available on many email, landing page and ad platforms – try different headlines and content out to see which performs best. If you’re just starting to sell online and you’re really worried about your audience’s reaction, you can always add a P.S. text link which lets them opt-out. You’ll probably find, as one of my clients did, hardly anyone actually opts out!
Ask your audience what they want. Then go create it.
Bonus 3 | Remind yourself of your core purpose
When you’re writing for yourself – especially with sales copy – your Inner Critic can become loud, vocal and extra mean. If you’re finding it difficult to quieten that scathing voice, or you’re getting distracted or bogged down in feeling like “I can’t do this sales copy thing!”, remind yourself of your original purpose, the positive impact you want to make on others and why it matters to you.
Actionable: What’s the story behind why you started your business or created this product/service – show your passion by telling us that story – we want to hear it!
Putting it all together
- You are the dream guide/mentor/leader/solution for your dream customers
- Find your ideal clients’ common ground
- Meet them where they are on their sales journey
- Infuse your writing with your (amazing, unique, distinctive) personality
- Use empathy and emotion to validate how they’re feeling, forging deeper connections
- Compel action with your sales copy (and use intriguing headlines)
- Storify your writing with interesting, specific details
- Clarify what they’ll receive with your CTAs
- Include the physical and emotional results (the benefits of your offerings)
- Limit choice to make it easier - give them only one option
- Make your sales copy deliver by asking “What’s in it for them?”
- When your Inner Critic rises up, remind yourself of your core purpose
It may seem like a lot of steps but, once you’re in the habit, writing sales copy will become much easier (and feel more natural). I know you can do it!
written by jeda pearl
Jeda is an intuitive copywriter + content strategist. She helps heart-led creative entrepreneurs make deeper connections with more of their ideal clients with compelling, magnetic language. Visit her website.