By Tony Wales
This is the second article in a four-part series to help publishers succeed in selling their books. This article describes the second key: selling the benefits of your publications.
The first key is preparing yourself with proper knowledge of your publication. See the article, Four Vital Ways to Improve Your Success in Bookselling
When I go to the store to buy a shirt, my main concern is not my collar size or sleeve length. My 16 inch collar and a 33 inch sleeve are mere features, helpful background information. Rather I go looking for a shirt which will serve various needs. These may include benefits such as: Are the shirts in the store are well made (no loose threads or other flaws)? Will it be long-wearing, good material? Will it look good on me and work with my other clothes? This mixture of personal and practical needs informs my decision to buy. They are the benefits that may lead to my purchase.
Similarly, when we are selling publications, we need to focus mainly on benefits not features. Provide your customers with answers to questions such as: What will this publication do for the reader? Does it fit with the customer’s profile? If your customer is a bookshop, will your publication fit in? For example, if your book is a novel, do they have a fiction section into which it can go? Or if your customer is a church, what will your book offer that particular congregation?
Although product details are important, our temptation is to load up our customers with detailed features, such as length, price, author or even content. But these facts are insufficient. I have often seen books and their product info presented to potential customers without the key reasons to buy: the benefits to the customer and end-user.
Increasingly successful selling depends on you being prepared with a clear idea of the benefits that your book will bring to readers and therefore give your customer reasons to buy your publication. Always remember that your customers are making an investment by putting your book on the shelf. You need to prepare them to sell it to their own customers.
The late motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar made a key point with this simple poem:
“If you want to sell John Jones what John Jones buys,
You’ve got to look through John Jones’ eyes”
Too often we try to sell our publications without looking through our customer’s eyes.
So here are some action points you can take:
- Prepare your reasons for the customer to buy your publication
- Include the book’s benefits in all your sales materials and especially on the cover of the book. Review your sales materials, catalogues and book covers to see if they reflect this important principle. Don’t be afraid to make changes!
- Aim to constantly try to understand your customer’s needs as you present your publications
Selling the benefits is the second step to successful selling. Next time we will look at the third great principle of selling: Asking for the order.
Tony Wales is a board member and trainer for MAI based in the UK. See his first article on bookselling for publishers.
Photo above courtesy of Owen Salter